3.19.2010

Buzzing Around in the Springtime (Lemon Honey Cupcakes)

ladybug and bee fondantSpring is officially here! FINALLY! So long Winter! And good riddance! Don’t let the door hit you in the you-know-what on the way out! I feel like we’ve been waiting forever for sunshine and warmer weather. And these past couple weeks have been gorgeous. Blue skies. Warm weather. Absolute perfection. Well, except for those couple days of gloom and doom rain. But hey. I’ll take rain over snow any day. After getting clobbered by 4 different storms that dumped almost 2 feet of snow (if not more… I kind of lost track after awhile) all within a couple weeks, I’ll be happy if I don’t see snow for another 8 months at least. But this is Ohio. You never put away your winter coat here. Mother Nature is slightly schizophrenic here. You never really know what you’re going to get at any given time. And as they say, if you don’t like it, wait 5 minutes. It might be different. So I’m going to enjoy my sunshine and 60s while it’s here, and dream of a time in the very near future when little flowers start popping up all over and all the little bugs start buzzing around again.


Ladybug and bee fondant
I made these beauties for Cupcake Camp last weekend, and let me tell you, I’ve never been so proud of anything in my life! It was only my second time working with fondant, and the first time I’ve ever tried to color and shape anything with it. (My first attempt at fondant was years ago and all I did was cover a cake with plain white. And even that wasn’t 100% successful!) I had seen the ladybug on grass idea in the Martha Stewart Cupcakes book (hers were actually marzipan) and thought it would be a totally adorable idea for the Spring Theme category at Cupcake Camp. Of course, I couldn’t just stop at ladybugs. I had to make bees, flowers, and even tossed around the idea of butterflies too (which I still may try someday). I started making all my decorations 2 days in advance, completely terrified that I would screw them up royally and have to come up with a plan B at the last minute. Luckily, plan A worked out fantastically! When my first ladybug emerged fully decorated and looking completely adorable, I scared the cat with my high-pitched shriek of delight. By the end of the night, I had an army of perfect little ladybugs and bees, and an entire field of flowers made! (I got a little out of control and made far too many flowers… but I was on a roll! I was a flower making machine!)


The only bump in the road was my frosting. I wanted to make lemon buttercream. Easy task right? Well, apparently I did something wrong. More than once. On both my test batch and my final batch, even though they were different recipes, calling for different ratios of butter, sugar, and lemon juice, my frosting started to separate almost immediately. No matter how long or how many times I continued to beat it along the way, within minutes, I was piping out shiny, oily-looking, grainy grass again. It tasted fine (although it was a bit too lemony for my taste), but it just wasn’t looking like the perfect blades of grass I had imagined. It was already pretty late at night, so I decided to suck it up and soldier on. By the end, they weren’t looking that great at all, but I didn’t have time to make another batch with my Vegan cupcakes still to go. I pulled out the few that looked absolutely terrible and packed up the rest.

My Vegan cupcakes? That’s a whole different story. And to make that long story short, they didn’t make an appearance at Cupcake Camp at all. They never even had frosting. My original idea was Strawberry Lemonade cupcakes, but after 2 unsuccessful lemon recipes (have I mentioned that I'm not too happy with lemon at the moment?) and a limited amount of time left, I scrapped the idea completely and decided on Cherry Almond cupcakes. My test batch of 6 came out great. My final batch? So moist, they literally squished in your hand when you picked them up. Not good. At that point, it was 11pm and I was in no mood to attempt another batch, so the Vegan cupcakes were crossed off the list, and I went to bed to get a full night’s sleep for the first time in days.

The next day, fully rested, fully dressed and made up, I walked out of my house, cupcakes in hand, a full hour before I was supposed to be at the North Market. A true miracle! And none of the drama of last time when I barely made it on time, and barely had time to dress myself! I even had to wait 15 minutes outside the event for them to finish setting up this time! The actual event? Fantastic! There were TONS of people! The place was packed! And I think everyone actually got to try things this time! There had been some issues at the previous event of people taking multiples of whole cupcakes with the intent to take them home before the event was even over, so a lot of people didn’t get to try some of the flavors at all. This time, they solved that problem by cutting our cupcakes up into quarters so everyone could have some. Great idea, but heartbreaking to watch your 2 days of work get sliced up with a big knife in a matter of minutes. But I understand why. When it came time to gather up the goodies, Boyfriend and I split up for the feeding frenzy—I sent him to the alcoholic cupcakes on the Baileys/Bushmills and St. Patrick’s Day tables, and I swooped around to gather the rest. Everything was absolutely delicious! By the time we left, I was a bit of a sugar coma zombie and had to sleep it off for a couple hours when we got home.

Overall, fun times were had by all! I got to see some Twitter friends and eat a ton of yummy cupcakes by some very talented local bakers. And I would most definitely do it again. And again. And again. Although, I think I’ll stick with just 1 category from now on. There’s too much stress trying to perfect 2 entries. Although, I wish they’d add an open category again, like the first one, where you could bake whatever you want and not be limited to certain ingredient or theme restrictions. It wouldn’t have to be judged, just there for the enjoyment of everyone. I’d be all for that again! Is there a comment box for the Cupcake Camp Powers That Be?

And just because I think they're so gosh darn cute...










Lemon Honey CupcakesLemon Honey Cupcakes
Adapted from Women’s Day Magazine
Makes 24 cupcakes



Cupcakes:
2 ¾ cups all purpose flour
¾ teaspoon baking powder
¾ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
½ cup sour cream
¼ cup milk
Zest of 1 lemon
3 to 4 tablespoons lemon juice (from 1 lemon)
½ teaspoon lemon extract
¾ cup (1 ½ sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
¾ cup honey
¼ cup sugar
3 large eggs

Frosting*:
2 cups confectioners’ sugar
¾ cup (1 ½ sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
2 tablespoons lemon juice
¼ teaspoon lemon extract
Pinch of salt
Food coloring (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 350F. Line two standard 12-cup muffin tins with liners; set aside.
2. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt; set aside. In a small bowl, whisk together sour cream, milk, lemon zest, lemon juice, and lemon extract; set aside.
3. In the bowl of an electric mixer on medium speed, cream together butter, honey, and sugar until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, beating until combined after each addition.
4. Reduce speed to low. Add flour and sour cream mixture alternately, beginning and ending with the flour mixture. Beat until just combined.
5. Spoon mixture into prepared muffins cups, adding ¼ of a cup of batter to each cup, filling about 2/3 full. Bake for 18 to 20 minutes, rotating pans halfway through, until lightly golden and a tester inserted in the center of the cakes comes out clean. Cool in pan for 10 minutes before transferring to wire rack to cool completely.
6. While cupcakes are cooling, make frosting: Cream together butter and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer until smooth and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add lemon juice, lemon extract, and salt, beating until fluffy. Add food coloring, if using. Transfer to pastry bag and pipe frosting onto cooled cupcakes.

*Note: My frosting ended up separating a bit, and had a grainy texture and an oily appearance. I'm not sure if this was my fault or the recipe's.
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4 comments:

Amanda said...

Adorable! Love the little bees and ladybugs!

oneordinaryday said...

A sweet way to welcome Spring, for sure. I love that the cupcake liners look like a picnic blanket. You're so clever to bring the whole thing together like that.

Jannett said...

Great welcome to spring... they are adorable...:)

bigchief said...

these were the bee's knees

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