Monday, August 9, 2010

Glazed mini lemon cakes

Happy Monday!  You know what I realized this weekend?  I'm getting older... not old, per se, but old enough that I felt a huge wave of happiness come over me when looking back at how productive I was.  Truly everything was checked off my to-do list, from cleaning the shower and running to a little at-home pedicure and time for a few almost terrible movies.  (If you're wondering, the Red Box selections were When in Rome and Have You Met the Morgans?  The former was even too cheesy for my taste, and I looooove cheesy.  The latter was barely saved by a few charming Huge Grant moments.  And yes, I'm giving these opinions keeping in mind that $1 was paid for each.  Yikes.)   Also a side that someone is getting old?  When said person is genuinely excited for new bathroom rugs.  True story.

One more tiny aside -- In case you were worried that I became a wet blanket, here's a little proof that I'm still years away from such a transition.   On Saturday, when faced with a family size bag of Doritos, I exhibited about as much willpower as a hyperactive child in the buttons and switches section of a Radio Shack store.  The bag was opened upon purchase, eaten on the mile walk home, and by the end of the night, 2/3 of it was gone.  Woops.

Anyway, back to the new, mature me.  The grown up woman who wanted to bake something for this month's book club gathering to discuss this book.  Whenever possible, we try to pick our meeting spot in keeping with the book's theme.  Unfortunately, most dessert places that we haven't yet tried are closed on Sunday nights, so Laura graciously agreed to play hostess.  While the book was just average, the spread was outstanding -- in addition to ice cream, cupcakes and cookies provided by her, I wanted to have something lemony and these glazed lemon cakes just seemed so perfect.  Make them miniature and you have dainty little pastries for classy ladies pretending to know a thing or two about literature.  I suppose it would help if we knew how to read, huh?  I kid, I kid...

I can't imagine making these in a standard cupcake tin, because the miniature versions are just the ticket.  Light, fluffy, and bursting with tangy citrus flavor that the more experienced palate can appreciate, they are the ideal no fuss sweet treat for a party.  "But Katy, haven't you already written about a lemon cake?"  Yes, friends, I have, but that's a pound cake... and it's much denser than these gems.  I wouldn't expect that recipe to translate well to smaller versions.  And know that it's okay to talk with your mouth full because, after all, it is a party.  We don't judge, as we like to think of ourselves as a group of ladies who read as an excuse to get together and wine and dine.

A few notes: I didn't use paper liners and the process of extracting the mini cakes in one piece was a bit tedious. It's well worth the work for presentation's sake (and I always dislike how much cake is stuck on the paper liner, only to be disposed of later), but if you're a fan of modern conveniences, use the paper liners.  If baking standard size cupcakes, adjust baking time to 20-25 minutes.

Glazed Mini Lemon Cakes
(adapted from Martha Stewart)
-makes 24-26 mini cupcakes, or roughly 12 regular cupcakes

1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for greasing pan
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup buttermilk (make your own!)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Zest & juice of one lemon
1 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs

For glaze:
2 Tablespoons lemon juice
1 1/4 cups powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 350F.  Grease muffin tin of choice, making sure to cover all crevices, and dust with flour.  Tap out excess and set pan aside.  In a small bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt.  In another small bowl, whisk together buttermilk, vanilla extract, lemon juice and zest.

In the large bowl of an electric mixer, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.  Add eggs, one at a time, until evenly incorporated.  With mixer on low speed and scraping down sides of bowl with spatula as needed, add 1/3 of the flour mixture, mix until no white remains, add 1/2 of the buttermilk mixture.  Repeat addition of flour, buttermilk, and flour mixtures.  Beat until uniformly mixed.

Divide among tin cups, filling about 2/3 full.  Bake 17-20 minutes or until cake tested inserted in center comes out clean.  Cool pan on wire rack for 10 minutes.  Carefully invert muffins (you may need to run a paring knife around edges of each muffin) and cool completely on rack.

While cooling, in a small bowl, whisk together powdered sugar and lemon juice until no clumps remain.  Place a piece of parchment or waxed paper under the rack before drizzling for easy clean-up.  Using spoon, drizzle glaze over cakes and allow to set 30 minutes before devouring... it's okay to lick your fingers, too.  We won't judge.

Today is National Rice Pudding Day!

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