lemon meringue cupcakes
My first lemon meringue pie was a voluptuous creation at King St Cafe. At ten years of age, King Street Cafe seemed quite posh and I was excited, eager to add another confection to my repertoire. Plunging through a cloud of meringue and neon filling, after a wait that seemed to last forever, the forkful of pie was finally in my mouth!
…And I quickly found out I hated lemon meringue pie.
What I later found out was that the culprit – the lemon curd filling – was really awful when mass produced. Seeing this Rockpool Bar & Grill recipe in October’s Gourmet Traveller, it was time to re-embrace the curd (and reduce my stash of lemons).
Okay, maybe not totally embrace it. I’m not keen on sour, tangy flavours – but, I am a fan of cream! So instead of the traditional lemon curd, I used Bourke Street Bakery’s version which is a luscious, pale lemon, creamy curd. Apart from whipping up the curd, the rest of cupcake is ridiculously easy. The cupcake batter is a pound cake formula, which is a cinch.
Then we arrive at the best bit – the topping! It’s the only reason I make cupcakes – to eat swathes of frosting somewhat legitimately. (It’s not like the frosting is going to sample itself!) Pursuing the low effort way of life (read: lazy), I heated the sugar syrup in the microwave and kind of missed the temperature mark. That’s why my cupcake looks nothing like Rockpool’s. (Though can’t say I missed the piping.)
Despite a rather stiff meringue, I ended up eating three of these. Cupcake beats pie, hands down.
Adapted from Bourke Street Bakery, by Paul Allam & David McGuiness
You’ll probably end up with more than you need, but that just means more for you.
100 gm caster sugar
125 ml freshly squeezed lemon juice
150 ml whipping cream
finely grated zest of half a lemon (optional, if you like it really lemony)
Put the eggs, sugar and lemon juice into a stainless steel bowl.
Whisk together really well, about 2 – 4 minutes or until the sugar dissolves.
Pour in the cream, zest (if using) and whisk to combine.
Place the bowl over a saucepan of simmering water and use a spatula (or whisk) to stir continuously for 10 minutes.
Keep stirring! Because once it curdles (becomes grainy), there is no saving it.
Use a spatula to scrape down the sides of the bowl.
After 10 – 12 minutes, the curd will become quite thick. It will coat the spatula easily and leave a ribbon trail.
Remove from the heat.
Stir for a minute to release steam and cool the curd.
Place plastic wrap directly onto the surface of the curd and refrigerate overnight to set.
Adapted from Rockpool Bar & Grill, by Neil Perry
155 gm butter, room temperature
155 gm caster sugar
2 eggs, room temperature
1 tsp vanilla extract
155 gm self raising flour
75 ml milk
Preheat the oven to 185°C.
Line a 12 hole muffin tray with paper cases.
Place the butter in the bowl of a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment.
Add the sugar and beat on high speed until the mixture is light and fluffy.
Scrape down the sides and beat for a few seconds to incorporate the side bits.
Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. The batter should look smooth. If it looks curdled, beat it even more.
Add the vanilla extract. Beat the mixture on low speed.
Add the flour and milk alternately – each in three batches – and beat until just combined. Err on the side of under beaten.
Divide the batter into the cases and smooth the tops.
Bake for about 15 minutes or until golden brown.
Cool in the tin for ten minutes and remove to a wire rack.
Adapted from Rockpool Bar & Grill, by Neil Perry
If you aren’t concerned with the topping (i.e. not piping it), the syrup can be made very easily in the microwave. Wear an oven glove to handle the glass jug – it is hot hot HOT. Otherwise, see the original recipe for the stovetop method.
120 gm caster sugar
40 ml water
70 gm egg white
squeeze of lemon juice
Put the sugar and water into a small Pyrex jug.
Place in the microwave at medium-high heat for 2 minutes.
Check the temperature with a candy thermometer. It needs to be 121°C so keep zapping away in 30 second or minute intervals until it is hot enough.
Meanwhile, put the sugar and egg white into the bowl of a mixer fitted with a whisk.
Add a squeeze of lemon juice and whisk until soft peaks form.
When the sugar syrup is ready, turn the mixer speed to medium.
Wearing your oven glove, steadily pour the sugar syrup down the side of the bowl (not the whisk!!) and into the egg whites.
Continue to whisk for 10 – 12 minutes, until the bowl is cool to the touch. The meringue will be thick and glossy.
Assemble the cupcakes immediately.
Okay, now we are ready to assemble the cupcakes!
Cut a hole from the centre of each cupcake, enough to hold at least 2 tsp of curd.
Fill the holes with curd.
Spoon the meringue on top of each cupcake.
Using the back of a spoon or palette knife, swirl till it looks pretty.
Use a kitchen blowtorch (you pyromaniac, you!) and brown the meringue.
Eat with pleasure…
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