Lemon curd is the perfect way to zest up any cupcake!
Ingredients: (makes 24)
225g unsalted butter, softened
225g caster sugar
A pinch of salt
Finely grated zest of 3 unwaxed lemons
4 medium eggs
225g self-raising flour
60ml lemon syrup
120g good-quality lemon curd
Preheat the oven to 175°C/Gas mark 4 and line two 12-hole muffin trays with cupcake cases.
Place the butter, sugar, salt and lemon zest in a mixing bowl and cream together until pale and fluffy. Beat the eggs lightly in a jug and slowly add to the butter mixture while beating quickly. If the mixture starts to separate or curdle, stop adding the egg and beat in 2-3 tablespoons of flour to rebind the mixture. Once all the egg has been added, sift in the flour and fold until the batter is just combined.
Using a piping bag or tablespoon, fill the cases until two-thirds full. Bake for 15-20 minutes, depending on your oven. They are cooked when the tops are lightly browned and spring back to the touch. If in doubt, insert a clean knife or skewer into the centre of each sponge; it should come out clean.
Once cooked, let them rest for a few minutes outside of the oven. Brush the tops with the syrup while they are still warm. Remove them from the trays and place on a wire rack. When they are cold, hollow out a small hole in the middle of each using a melon baller and fill with the lemon curd.
To decorate: Pipe over the meringue frosting and quickly brown the top with a chef's blow torch or under a very hot grill.
60ml lemon juice
60g caster sugar
Place the lemon juice and sugar into a small saucepan and bring just to the boil. Stir until the sugar crystals have all dissolved, then remove from the heat. Set aside to cool.
100g pasteurised liquid egg white
Juice of ½ lemon
3 tbsp water
A pinch of salt
260g caster sugar
Place the egg white, lemon juice, water and salt into a clean, dry bowl and whisk until aerated and soft peaks form. Lower the speed and add a third of the sugar, 1 tbsp at a time, then raise the speed and beat well for a minute. Lower the speed again and repeat with the next third of sugar. Add the remaining sugar in the same way, then put the speed up to high and beat well for at least 3-4 minutes, or until fluffy, white and firm.
Use immediately. Do not store the frosted cupcakes in the fridge as the humidity will melt the meringue.
Edited extracts taken from 'Cakes In Bloom: The Art of Exquisite Sugarcraft Flowers' by Peggy Porschen, £25; www.peggyporschen.com