Monday, October 4, 2010

It's Cake Day - Lemon Cake

I’m not the type of girl who finds it difficult to justify cake, or desserts of any kind for that matter. Any day can be a cake day. Sometimes I feel like people think I’m a little odd when I celebrate normal day-to-day events with food. That might have something to do with the weird almost fearful looks they give me, like there is a chance I could be slightly on the crazy side. But these people don’t cake (ha! I meant to write care but cake came out which is kind of funny so I left it…), they don’t share my joy of baking so they don’t count. Once they have cake in their hand they’re happy.

This week I successfully managed to disguise my cake baking needs with a more obvious cake-requiring occasion - a farewell to a girl at work who is leaving to have her first baby. This gave me the perfect excuse to bake. So bake I did. Cupcakes (being the obvious choice when it comes to baby themed events. Babies are little therefore require little cakes).

I am on a mission to find the perfect cupcake recipe. One that’s light and airy, has a nice rise and shape to it when baked and keeps well for at least a day (as I usually bake the night before and then ice in the morning).

This time I tried two recipes – one based on a Lemon Cake by Donna Hay and the other, a Raspberry Cupcake with White Chocolate Ganache from Nigella Lawson (who I think is great. Why not make food even better with sultry sauciness?).

The Nigella recipe was not only easy but it turned out beautiful, light and fluffy wee cakes. It has officially been added to my keep list. You can find the recipe here (oh no! stop press! Nigella has taken the recipe from her site and I can't find it elsewhere online! Foolish me for not writing it down - you learn a new lesson everyday. I'll see if I can find it elsewhere for you). If you need an impressive fail-safe cupcake recipe this is (was?) it. It’s foolproof! Although I do have a long running battle with ganache and somehow managed to completely ruin this one as well. Possibly because I tried to colour it pink…I need to research colouring ganache. I semi-salvaged the ganache by adding a tonne of icing sugar to thicken it up but for most of the cakes I used a cream cheese and passionfruit icing to decorate (just a basic cream cheese icing with passionfruit added which takes it to a whole new level of delicious goodness).

The Donna Hay recipe was actually meant for a cake, which after trying it as cupcakes, it’s probably more suited for (I should trust Donna more). The cupcakes were a little heavy and doughie but still really tasty. It would make a delish afternoon tea or dessert cake – something you eat with a fork and a dollop of cream or greek yoghurt. Go forth and eat cake!

Lemon Cake with Passionfruit Syrup (from Donna Hay Magazine, Issue 50)
125g butter
1 cup (220g) caster sugar
2 eggs
1 cup (240g) sour cream
¼ cup (60ml) lemon juice
1 tablespoon finely grated lemon rind
2 ½ cups (375g) self-raising flour
½ teaspoon baking powder

Preheat oven to 180°C (350°F). Place butter and sugar in a bowl and beat with an electric mixer until light and creamy. Add the eggs one at a time and beat well. Mix in the sour cream, lemon juice and rind, flour and baking powder (I sifted the flour and baking powder together first). Spoon the mixture into a 23cm round cake tin lined with non-stick baking paper. Bake for 40 minutes or until cooked when tested with a skewer (poke a skewer into the centre of the cake – if it comes out clean the cake is done). If using the passionfruit syrup, turn the warm cake out onto a rack and pour over half the syrup (reserving the rest for serving) – allow to stand for a few minutes so the syrup can sink in then serve.

Passionfruit Syrup
I didn’t use this for my cupcakes but wanted to include it here for those who’d like to follow the original Donna Hay recipe.

⅔ cup (150g) sugar
1 cup (250ml) water
⅔ cup (160ml) passionfruit pulp (if you don’t have fresh, use canned and reduce the sugar slightly)

Place the sugar, water and passionfruit in a saucepan. Cook over low heat, stirring, until the sugar is dissolved. Simmer for 4-5 minutes or until thickened slightly. See above for ‘pour over’ instructions.

If you try these recipes let me know what you think! And if you have a go-to cupcake recipe I would love to try it.

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