So today is my actual birthday. THIRTY TWO. Holy crap.
I’m generally okay with adding another ring to the tree trunk, but I will admit I had a mini freak- out woe is me party for one last night. I had a cupcake and got over it. For good measure, I had another this morning and now I’m ready to embrace 32 head on.
The cupcake is what I share with you today. Vanilla base. Lemon filling. Vanilla frosting.
While not technically fruit, the lemon part of it does break my no fruit in dessert guidelines. As with the Peach Upside Down Cake, my reason for labeling this my favorite, and for always making it my birthday cake also dates back to summers spent on the river up in Canada.
I’ve already mentioned that for our birthdays, Little Buddha and I enjoyed grandma’s Peach Upside Down Cake. But there are TWO of us, and therefore two birthdays to celebrate. Therefore, the second cake we all enjoyed came from the now-nonexistent Iroquois Bakery. The bakery was a Buffalo establishment, around for 65 years, before it was forced to close its doors back in 1995, just about the time we all stopped summering in Fort Erie, strangely enough. Every year, we got the same cake…a towering simple spongy vanilla with lemon in the middle, dressed in a light whipped frosting. It was also adorned with these weird wafer like flowers on them for decoration. I have no idea what they were or how to recreate them, so I won’t’ be doing that.
While I don’t have the Iroquois cake recipe, and I enjoyed it back before I tried to dissect every treat I consumed, I do remember the essence of it, and, in order to recreate that essence, I’ve hodgepodged a recipe together that serves my purposes, and taste buds, just splendidly.
The cake base I bring to you courtesy of The Hummingbird Bakery in London. I feel in love with this little Notting Hill bakeshop back in 2005 when I studied there, and, after painstakingly trying to recreate the cake, a cookbook came out. Just for me (or so I like to think). Last night I realized the base of this cupcake is a lot like the Peach Upside Down cake base. No wonder I like it so much!
Note #1: I made cupcakes because I bring these to work much like a second grader would bring them to school, but this recipe would make a nice size two-layer. Also, best to make the lemon curd the day before so that it can cool.
Makes about 18 cupcakes
Note #2: The method for this cake is a bit different than your normal cake batter, so pay attention.
For the cake (adapted from The Hummingbird Bakery):
2 cups flour
1 ½ cups sugar
3 tsp baking powder
6 TB butter, room temperature
1 cup whole milk (or buttermilk)
1 tsp vanilla
- Preheat the oven to 325F.
2. In a large mixer bowl, add the flour, sugar, butter, baking powder and salt. Mix together until it is a sandy consistency.
3. In a separate liquid measuring cup, add the milk, eggs and vanilla.
4. Slowly add the wet to the dry, mixing until just incorporated. Do not over mix.
5. Add the batter to cupcake liners, filling about 2/3 of the way through.
6. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until the cake springs back when touched and a tester comes out clean. Set aside to cool.
Make the lemon curd
Lemon curd is ridiculously easy to make and so delicious. Now I want to make some more Orange Bread just so that I have something to use with this lemon curd!
Makes about 2 cups
4 egg yolks
2 whole eggs
¾ cup sugar
½ cup fresh lemon juice (from about 2-3 lemons, depending on the size)
4 TB unsalted butter
2 lemons, zested
- Heat all the ingredients except for the butter, in a small saucepan. Keep it stirring every so often until it coats the back of a spoon. Remove from heat.
- Once off the heat, add the butter and mix in until melted and incorporated. Set aside to cool.
For the frosting
3 cups powdered sugar
8 TB butter, room temperature
2 TB milk, or more depending on your desired consistency
1 tsp vanilla
Food coloring of choice
- Beat together the butter and sugar, slowly to avoid a cloud of sugar blowing back in your face.
2. Add the vanilla, milk and food coloring, adding more or less milk depending on how thick or thin you desire.
- When the cupcakes are cool, take a knife and hollow out the center of each, making sure to keep the “lid.” I’ve seen a few methods out there on how to fill cupcakes, and this has always worked best for me.**
2. Spoon approximately 1 tsp of lemon curd in each cupcake hole. Cover with the “lid.”
3. Frost the top as normal with frosting.
**P.S.: The best part of hollowing out the center is that you end up with little bits of center. Which means you basically have a bowl full of cake. Add some frosting to that, and that’s what I had for breakfast today. Treat for the chef!