A little something special

Date:

May is such a glorious month – longer and brighter days, gardens full of colour and life … and hopefully some warm sunshine too! This year it also sees three bank holiday Mondays! Perhaps you are organising or attending a street party this month in honour of the King’s Coronation, or perhaps you are just taking a moment to enjoy what has felt like looooong-awaited warmth from some sunshine. Whatever your reason for a celebration (and really, you don’t need a reason at all), here are some delicious crowd-pleaser cupcakes for you: simple to make, full of flavour and just a little bit of decadence – fit for a coronation.

Lemon meringue cupcakes

Heather Brown is a food writer, photographer and stylist. A committee member of The Guild of Food Writers, Heather runs Dorset Foodie Feed, as well as working one-to-one with clients.

Ingredients
(makes 12 cupcakes)

For the cupcakes

  • 170g butter
  • 170g caster sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 170g self raising flour
  • 2 lemons
  • lemon curd*

For the meringue

  • 2 egg whites
  • 200g caster sugar
  • 80ml water

Method

  • Pre heat the oven to 170º fan/Gas 6. Line a muffin tray with 12 cupcake/muffin cases.
  • In a large mixing bowl or stand mixer, beat together the butter, caster sugar and the zest of the two lemons until pale and fluffy (this takes about two minutes in a stand mixer and about four minutes when mixing by hand).
  • Add in the eggs one at a time, beating well between each egg.
  • Slowly mix in the flour, being careful not to knock too much of the air out of the mixture.
  • Spoon the mixture into the cupcake cases, distributing the mixture evenly between all the cases.
  • Bake for 15 to 20 minutes until the cupcakes are beginning to brown on top and when gently touched, they spring back. Leave to cool.
  • When the cakes are cold, remove from the tray. Carefully cut off the centre from the top of the cupcakes, making a little dip in the top of each one. Using the two lemons that you zested for the sponge mixture, squeeze lemon juice over the tops of all the cupcakes. This helps keep the cakes lovely and moist. Spoon lemon curd into the little dip you just made in each cupcake.
  • To make the meringue, put the egg whites in a clean and dry stand mixer or large bowl.
  • Put the water and the sugar in a small saucepan. Swirl them together – don’t mix after this point. Turn the heat to high and heat the sugar and water together until they reach 116ºC. If you don’t have a sugar thermometer, then this temperature is just before the sugar water starts to colour brown so watch the mixture closely until you can begin to see it brown.
  • Take the sugar water off the heat. Beat the egg whites until they thicken and form stiff peaks. Keep beating as you drizzle the hot sugar water slowly into the egg whites, turning it into a thick and glossy meringue mixture.
  • Pipe this onto the cupcakes, or you can use a spoon. If you have a kitchen blowtorch, you could gently scorch the tops too.

*Lemon curd: ordinary shop-bought simply isn’t great. Many local producers make delicious lemon curd, just as good as homemade. But it’s simple to make, so why not use the egg yolks left over from the meringue and make your own?
Simply add the zest and juice of one lemon, 60g butter, 85g caster sugar, 2 egg yolks, 1tbsp cornflour into a pan and heat over a medium heat, stirring continuously until the mixture thickens and starts to bubble. Once bubbling, cook for 2-3 minutes more, constantly stirring (otherwise it will stick to the pan). Take off the heat, pour into a bowl or jar and leave to cool. That’s it!

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