Learning to bake fearlessly <3

I am a very bad sister.

When I started this blog, I brainstormed a whole bunch of recipes to try, and when I got to “raspberry lemonade cupcakes,” my little sister, Kessie, was like “DO THAT ONE NEXT.” Actually, I think I only got as far as “raspberry le–“. Girl likes her raspberries.

See, she’s not my sister like we grew up together and made faces at each other in church and fought over the backseat on long car rides. Nah, she’s my sister in the sense that a long time ago, like two or three years now, we met online and got to know each other and decided we’re going to be friends for life, and we and a couple of other friends, all of us from different states, talk every day. So, that’s another thing that makes me a very bad sister–she’s going to have to come to Virginia to get one of these.

I also, however, am a very good sister. My one biological sister (was there right after she was born, bought her her first teddy bear, had a few very fierce and bitter years where her favorite thing to do was run into my room and steal my pokemon toys) looooves lemon things. The girl will save the lemon from her water in restaurants to suck on after the meal–no sugar needed. I don’t know how she does it.

Did you know that they sometimes call cupcakes “fairy cakes” in England? So unfair. Can we steal that? I’m sure going to!

One final note: I made these using two different recipes I married. One of them calls for a box of yellow cake mix. I subbed in a scratch yellow cake batter. If you want to use mix, I totally won’t judge you. This is a no-judging-for-using-mixes space. I just like baking from scratch because I’ve got the time, and it’s really cool seeing something I made come together into food like that!

Raspberry Lemonade Cupcakes Fairy Cakes

Adapted from Sweetapolita and Bake at 350

3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tbsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1¾ cups sugar
4 large eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
1¼ cups milk
1 4.3 oz box of lemon pudding mix
3 tbsp of lemonade concentrate, thawed

Makes about 2 dozen cupcakes

To start, preheat the oven to 350 F, and line your cupcake pan with cute liners. Cream the butter and sugar together in the bowl of a mixer, on medium-high speed. In another bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, and salt.

When the butter/sugar mixture is combined and fluffy, add the eggs in one at a time, then the vanilla. Alternate adding the flour mixture and the milk, mixing until just combined. Add the pudding mix and lemonade concentrate and mix it up a bit more.

Scoop the batter into the cupcake liners and bake 15-17 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into a cupcake comes out clean.

Raspberry Swiss Meringue Buttercream

9 large egg whites
2 and 1/4 cups granulated sugar
6 sticks (2 pounds) unsalted butter, not cold, cut into cubes
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon salt
2 cups seedless raspberry jelly/jam

I heard about swiss meringue buttercream probably a year before I actually tried it. It seemed so intimidating—a hundred different things seemed like it could go wrong! But I’m here to tell you that it’s actually really really simple, and I’ve made it twice this week simply because I can. And oh my gosh, is it delicious. I licked every implement used to make this completely clean before washing—I couldn’t bear to let any of it go to waste. And don’t stop at just raspberry. You can make it any flavor you like! Because SMB isn’t sweet-sweet, any flavor will shine.

I always cube and set out my butter on a plate first thing, and let it warm up while I work on the rest. Wipe out your mixer bowl and mixer attachments VERY well, making sure there’s no trace of grease. The first thing you’re going to do is make a meringue, and any grease could cause it to fail. Heat a large pot with an inch or so of water on the stove until it’s just simmering—we don’t want to cook our egg whites. Add the egg whites and sugar to your mixer bowl and whisk constantly until the sugar is melted and the egg whites are warm. I’ll level with you: the first time I made this, I intended to run the sugar through the food processor beforehand, making it superfine, but it melts just perfectly without it, so I don’t bother.

Stick your bowl on your mixer with whisk attachment and whip the egg/sugar mixture on medium-low (say 3 on a Kitchenaid) for a couple minutes, then switch to medium-high (say 7 or so on a Kitchenaid) until they’re white and fluffy, and the bowl is neutral to the touch. For me, it takes around 7-8 minutes. Voila! You made meringue. But it’s going to get even better still.

When the bowl feels room-temperature, switch to the paddle attachment on low speed and add your cubed butter one or two cubes at a time. This is the tricky part, and where it looks like everything’s gone wrong. At this stage, it is totally okay if your buttercream looks grainy, more like scrambled eggs. Trust me! Just keep whipping it, scraping the paddle clean if need be. Eventually, it will turn into creamy, smooth loveliness. Taste a little of it now—isn’t it just knee-weakeningly good? But it’s going to get even better!

Add your jam/jelly, vanilla, and salt, and whip it a bit longer, until they’re evenly incorporated. And don’t be afraid to play with different flavors or proportions. Pipe onto cupcakes, but make sure you have a little left over to eat with a spoon! ;D

Note: I know I have a HUGE mound of frosting on there like usual, but for this recipe, less is more so you don’t overpower the lemon. Also, these cakes didn’t bake up as nicely as I liked, so next time I’m going to fill the wells more (close to the top, probably, they really didn’t rise all that much).


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