Saturday, September 11, 2010

Lemon Gem Cupcakes

Warning: For Lemon Lovers Only

I promise this wont turn into a cupcake blog (that trend isn’t gonna stick around for long). There’s way too much fun to be had in the kitchen to waste it on cupcakes or being vegan all the time. Yes, as an exercise in discipline I’ve been trying out a vegan diet. I’m trying to keep it interesting, and many vegans will tell you that they’ve been “opened up to a whole new world of taste!”, and I’m sure if one were to have completely unlimited resources then that is surely the case, but I am not one of those lucky people. It’s somewhat stringent, but I really did enjoy the pine nut based variation on alfredo sauce I made with my lovely friend Tracey this week. And THESE, these adorable babycakes could fool just about anybody. They are super lemony, and the icing (which is more like a glaze) is kind of unwieldy, but they are very tasty and make it look like I know what I’m doing!

The only part of this recipe that required a little bit of doing was the sifting and the zesting. MAKE SURE YOU HAVE ENOUGH LEMONS and you don't have to go back to the store like me. Zesting is one of those things that I haven't completely figured out the secret to yet, I'm sure Alton Brown has some secret method that will make my life a lot easier. I will update if I can find it! I have a pretty cool zester, but a clean metal file (like you would find in a wood shop/garage/home depot) works. Some box graters have a zesting side- you know, the one you always accidentally cut yourself on!
These are very pretty cupcakes, nice and moist and glowy.

Adapted from Isa Chandara Moscowitz
Lemon Gem Cupcakes

For the cupcakes:
1 1/3 cups all-purpose flower
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup canola oil
2/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
1 cup rice milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup lemon juice
1 tablespoon lemon zest

For the frosting:
1/4 cup non-hydrogenated soy margarine, softened*
1/4 cup soy milk
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 cups confectioners sugar, sifted**

*A note on soy margarine: Obviously, you don't have to make this recipe vegan, I just chose to for experimental purposes. I used Earth Balance buttery sticks and they worked just fine.

**A note on sifting: I know, it's kind of a pain, but this extra step will ensure that your cakes or whatever you are making has a smooth and fluffy texture. Sifting not only works out any lumps that may be hiding in your dry ingredients, it also aerates the flour/sugar/etc. so that it incorporates into the recipe better and comes out fluffier.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a twelve-muffin tin with paper liners. Sift together the flour, baking soda, and salt. In a separate bowl (I just put it straight into the Kitchenaid) combine the oil, sugar, rice milk, vanilla, lemon juice, and lemon zest. Once the wet ingredients are well incorporated, pour in the dry ingredients and mix until smooth. The recipe said to fill each cupcake liner about 2/3 full but I found that I had a lot of leftover batter- I'd go for about 3/4 full.

Bake for 17-20 minutes. Even though I have a mad-hot gas oven, these took awhile to get done. I checked them at 18 minutes but ended up putting them back in for another four. Look for a slight browning on the top, and give them time to cook through so the bottoms aren't too dense and soggy. Once they are cool enough to touch, let them cool on a rack and DO NOT FROST until they are completely cooled.

While they are in the oven, go ahead and make the frosting. Or make it beforehand, whatever. I found that this frosting recipe yielded a lot more than I needed, so if anyone can think of something to do with a bunch of lemon frosting I'm up for ideas.

Whisk the margarine until fluffy- I also did this in the Kitchenaid and I would recommend using either a stand or a hand mixer so you can get the right consistency. Stir in the soy milk and lemon juice, add the confectioners sugar and mix until smooth. Keep working with it until it feels right. I added sprinkles for a little visual interest.

Just be patient, be careful, and be open minded to vegan baking once in awhile!