This is the same old vegan cupcake recipe I've used for years, ever since we found out Shorty was allergic to eggs and milk. Don't worry I'll include it again at the end. I made a first batch to let Shorty decide how she wanted her cupcakes to taste and she exclaimed "Not enough lemon! Needs more lemon! Double the lemon!" while Husband said "These are nice, a subtle lemon flavour. Pleasant. except for this bit of rind I'm left chewing on."
From that I took this: Double the lemon and get a proper lemon zester because shaving it with the veggie peeler and chopping with my curved knife isn't good enough.
I bought a big bag of lemons and found a fine cheese grater in the drawer of kitchen stuff I never use that worked perfectly as a zester. I did a couple things differently than I normally would:
That's the zest and juice of two small lemons. I did this bit first before anything else. I find it easier to squeeze over a small plate and then I can pick out all the seeds without fumbling up the sides of a bowl or squeezing over my other hand and trying not to let the seeds slip between my fingers. I then put the juice on the zest and let it soften up the zest and set aside until later.
When the batter is ready, I spooned it into paper cake things that I pre-sprayed with non stick. Why? Because how many times have you been ready to enjoy a lovely cupcakes and then had to eat it off the paper because the paper stuck to the cake? I hate when that happens! Also, see the one in the bottom left? That's how high you should fill the paper. The others are too full. Why? Because don't you hate it when you peel back the paper and it gets covered in sticky icing and it runs or gobs down the side? No? Well you're a finger licking icing freak. I like to have a bit of paper free of frosting to pull back and then I can grab the cake and not get all sticky from the icing. It's a dainty, delicate thing this cupcake eating! Al;so - look at all that zest in the batter - isn't it teasing you with its lemony promise of deliciousness?
See them baked and how the one with the paper at the top is nicer than the one on the right that's overfull and guaranteeing the icing runs down the side of paper?
This was them finished, the next morning. Now, I admit this was the batch I'd made and it has a flaw. The ones my daughter made were perfect and much, much prettier than these. The mistake was, I'd read other cupcake recipes (No, no not that reading recipes of others is a mistake, it's not, it's bloody essential!) and a few of them included a quarter of a cup of corn flour. I didn't understand this use of corn flour. Cornflour? I use that to thicken sauces. Does it thicken cupcakes? What was it going to do? Is it better than my usual corn flour free ones? So I had to try it out. I found it does in fact make the cakes a tad denser and flatter. Dense in a super moist sense not a hockey puck way. See how the cakes are slightly hockey puck shaped? That's the corn flour. I think it helps keep them from rising too high and dome-like and then they won't crack as badly making icing much easier. I'm guessing! It makes sense. Second batch, Shorty made without corn flour with her child's handful of lemon zest. This batch she proclaimed perfection while my husband grasped his neck hissing "My glands! Ack! Lemon! Tart!" and then grabbed another cupcake and left the room.
Sadly I have no pictures of the perfect ones Shorty made because they were scarfed up first. I'm not jealous! She did an awesome job, she was a kitchen Goddess! She'll have this recipe down pat by next week for the contest and she knows exactly how she wants her cupcakes to taste. She's 7 by the way, did you know that? She's a Junior Masterchef in the making. My cupcakes were only ok next to her ones. No one liked the mixed peel on top, they preferred Shorty's lemon zest only simplicity and the dome top on her no corn flour recipe was irrelevant in the end. I'll get you some more pictures of hers when she does her official entry for the 19th. If you cannot wait, then you'll have to try and make them yourself:
Vegan Super Lemon Cupcakes
- 1½ cups of self rising flour
- ¾ cup of caster sugar
- ½ teaspoon of salt
- 1/3 cup of extra light olive oil
- Zest and juice of two small or one large lemon (around 1/3 of a cup of juice)
- 1 cup of soy milk and another ½ a cup to be added if needed for a thick but pourable batter.
- 1 teaspoon of white vinegar
- ¾ cup of icing sugar
- 1 tablespoon of lemon juice
- Some lemon zest
- Zest the lemons and squeeze all the juice. Remove seeds but leave pulpy bits. Let the zest soak in the juice and set aside.
- Place cupcake papers into a muffin tin and give a light coating with non stick spray.
- Preheat oven to 170C.
In a large bowl sift all the dry ingredients together. Make a well in the flour, keeping the vinegar aside, add the rest of the wet ingredients and mix until no large lumps appear – be careful not to over mix or the batter will become too heavy. Add the vinegar and give a few good stirs then spoon the batter into the cupcake papers leaving a few millimetres of paper showing at the top. Get quickly into the oven and bake for around 20-25 minutes or until a skewer inserted comes out clean but the cakes aren't browned on top. Allow cakes to cool completely.
Once cakes are cooled make the icing by sifting the icing sugar to be sure it's free of hard lumps. Add the lemon juice a teaspoon a time and stir until a thick, spreadable icing is achieved. Add to the top of the cupcakes, top with the zest for decoration and allow to set.
That was coming towards us as we were happily baking.
Ah - in the ingredients there's white vinegar. That's a great trick and saved us yesterday. It was a muggy, humid warm afternoon with storms brewing on the horizon but as we were baking it was the worst weather for baking. Humid kitchens make sticky, overly moist cakes that sometimes don't rise well. Add a vegan recipe and it's a wonder they work at all. A little chemistry to the rescue. The vinegar added at the end reacts with the baking powder and makes bubbles in the batter - it creates crumb. A nice crumb is necessary to a great cake. The vinegar flavour bakes off and you never know it's even in there, unless you lick the bowl. Then you know. That's a great thing about vegan recipes - no salmonella worry! Lick that bowl clean! Otherwise, you don't actually need the vinegar so don't sweat it if you don't have any.
I hope you give these a try. They really are the answer if you've ever had a lemon cake and thought to yourself "I suppose it could be lemon?" and like Shorty screamed "More Lemon!!" then this will tickle your tang buds.
If anyone can tell me how to get the 1/3 to shrink down like the other fractions in Open Office, I'd appreciate that too. Damned annoying that.
Last trick - I didn't let the kids lick the bowl because there was about a 1/4 cup of batter left. After two bowls of leftover batter, I spooned it into the mini-muffin pan and baked them up too. Those were lovely lunchbox sized treats. Why waste it when it can be cooked and used up. Even cupcakes can be frozen and used later!