Thursday, August 15, 2013

Lemon Cupcakes and a 60th Wedding Anniversary

60 years is 21,900 days, which is 525,600 hours, which is 31,536,000 minutes, which is 1,892,160,000 seconds. Roughly. And that is how many seconds my grandparents have been married. They have been in love for even longer than that.

On August 15th, 1953, two people committed their lives to one another, and now, 60 years, 6 children, 29 grandchildren, and 1 great-grandchild later, they are still madly in love, and a great inspiration to us all.

A small portion of this family (the ones that could get time off work and who don't live scattered across the planet) gathered a couple weeks ago to surprise my wonderful grandparents in a celebration of their love. Their children took them to dinner, and while they were there, a small group of my cousins and I set out desserts and a couple decorations for when they returned. It was the last in a string of surprises that week, including spontaneous visitors and world travelers. Good times were had by all.

Enjoying cake at their wedding...

...and cupcakes at their 60th.

I made these lemon cupcakes as a sweet summer treat, in a cheerful, festive hue, bedecked with (all together with me now) cream cheese frosting. And plus, have you seen these Paper Eskimo cups yet? Holy cuteness! Like 12 on a scale of 1-10, if cupcake papers had a cuteness scale.

See? Holy moly.

These lemon cupcakes are easy to make, delicious and tangy and moist, and can be made as a cake if you don't want to do the cupcake thing.


Lemon Cupcakes
From Martha Stewart
Makes about a dozen normal cupcakes, or an 8 inch layer cake


2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon lemon zest
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 large eggs and 3 large egg yolks
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 cup buttermilk

For the frosting:

1 lb cream cheese, at room temperature
2 sticks (1 cup) butter, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4-6 cups sifted confectioner's sugar


Preheat oven to 350ºF.
Line baking tins with cupcake papers (or butter and flour two 8" pans).
In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and lemon zest. This smells absolutely heavenly. I believe lemon zest is made primarily of angel wings. Or fairy dust. Zesting lemons will make the whole kitchen smell absolutely fantastic.
In the bowl of your mixer fitted with a paddle attachment (or in a regular bowl, if you feel like kicking it old school), beat butter and sugar until light, fluffy, and gorgeous.
Turn the mixer on low and then add eggs and egg yolks one at a time.
Beat in the lemon juice.
Alternately add the flour mixture and buttermilk in batches, starting and ending with the flour. Don't overmix here, just combine until the flour is incorporated.
Portion the batter into baking cups (about 2/3 full)

and bake 20 minutes (or until a toothpick inserted into the center of a cupcake comes out mostly clean.
Let cool 10 minutes in pan, then remove and let cool completely on a rack before frosting.
You will notice that these stand on their own and don't need a muffin tin. Awesome.

**Note: In Martha's original recipe, she made a lemon simple syrup; while the cakes were still warm, she pokes holes in the cake and brushes on the syrup. I omit this step for cupcakes, and they turn out wonderfully moist and scrumptious. I have made this in cake form (for this adorable puppy cake), and I did the syrup. It turned out great. Your call.


Beat cream cheese, butter, and vanilla until smooth and creamy.
Add sugar in 1/2 cup to 1 cup increments, beating well in between additions. After the last addition, beat 3-5 minutes until smooth, light, and fluffy.
Pipe or smooth onto cupcakes (I used a 1M tip).

Lemon curl garnish
These cupcakes are so lovely garnished with a simple lemon peel twist.
These are super simple to make. All you need is a zesting tool. I use this one. Any zesting tool with a channel knife (the part in the middle, not the little holes at the top) will do the trick.
Make sure the fruit is clean, since you will be putting the garnish directly on top of the frosting. You can totally eat these too, although they are too bitter for some people (this also depends on how much pith (the white part under the skin) comes off with the peel).
Hold the fruit firmly, and, applying even pressure with the channel knife, peel the top layer of skin in a spiral around the fruit. Try to get mostly the yellow part and not the pith.

Like so.

Take the length of peel that you cut and twist it around something round (I used a wooden spoon handle). The tightness of your curl will depend on the size of the round thing. For tight spirals, use a skewer. For larger spirals, you could even use your finger.

Let it sit for a couple minutes to hold the shape, then gently slide the curl off the spoon.

Cut into little twists, and bedeck each cupcake with the sunny yellow goodness.

Enjoy lemon cupcakes, and enjoy love.
Congratulations to my amazing grandparents!
Here's to many more years of joy-filled memories!

Oh, and a few plastic party cups and a car seat were all that was needed to transport some of the leftovers safely to my cousins who couldn't make it.

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