Sweet yet tart lemon cupcakes, perfect for a special occasion. A lemon sponge, filled with a pop of lemon curd in the middle, topped with light as air Lemon Swiss Meringue Buttercream.
These cupcakes are something special. Lemony to the core (literally!), but topped with Swiss Meringue Buttercream which is definitely worth the effort. This was the first time I’d eaten (let alone made) Swiss Meringue Buttercream, and despite the process being quite lengthy, the result was spectacular. Like a cross between a marshmallow and traditional buttercream, it is the smoothest, lightest icing you will ever eat. Also a bonus that it’s not too sweet, which works wonderfully well with lemons.
I left these as just pure and simple lemon, which seems just right to show off the two ‘technical’ elements of this cake. Both the Lemon Curd and the Swiss Meringue Buttercream might seem quite daunting, but the good thing is you can do both of them in advance! The Lemon Curd will keep in an unopened jar for a couple of months and the buttercream can be kept in the fridge for a few days before use. Then all you need to do is bake the cupcakes, which I promise is exceedingly simple!
If the Swiss Meringue Buttercream seems like a step too far, then a regular buttercream would also work well. You will get a sweeter result, but that’s not always a bad thing! Simply cream together 1 part butter to 1 and 1/2 parts icing sugar, and then add lemon curd to taste. I have to say this is one of my favourite buttercreams – the eggs in the curd help the buttercream go a very very pale colour, and it really lightens up the texture.
These cupcakes would make a wonderful gift or treat on a special occasion, and I can promise they will be gratefully received by anyone…. except perhaps someone who doesn’t like lemons!
Makes 18, takes 2 hours.
Tip: The Swiss Meringue Buttercream is ideally made using a stand mixer, or an electric hand whisk (but you might need to ask for help to save your arm muscles!).
Tip: You do not need a sugar thermometer to make the Swiss Meringue Buttercream, unless you want the eggs to be pasteurised If so, use the thermometer to check the egg whites reach 70 C/ 160 F when whisking over the boiling water.
- 230g dairy free butter
- 230g caster sugar
- 4 eggs
- Zest of 2 lemons
- 230g self raising flour
- 4 tbsp homemade lemon curd
Swiss Meringue Butter Cream:
- 5 medium eggs
- 175g caster sugar
- pinch of cream of tartar
- 235g dairy free butter
- 75g trex
- 3 tbsp lemon curd
- Make the cakes. Preheat the oven to 170 degrees, and line a 12 & 6 hole cupcake tray with cases.
- When the oven has come to temperature, use the all in one method to make the cakes. Add all of the cake ingredients into a large bowl and mix until smooth.
- Spoon the batter into the cases evenly, and bake for 18 – 20 minutes until golden brown, and a skewer comes out clean from the centre.
- Leave to cool on a wire rack.
- As the cakes are cooling, make the Swiss Meringue Buttercream. I found this website really useful and a great guide for making it for the first time! http://whisk-kid.com/2010/08/how-to-make-swiss-meringue-buttercream.html
- In a metal or glass bowl, add the egg whites, sugar and cream of tartar, and whisk until evenly mixed – we’re not trying to get volume at this stage, just get our ingredients evenly incorporated. (Tip: Split your eggs first into a different bowl, and then add the whites one by one to this bowl. That way, if any accidentally get some yolk in the whites, you’ve not ruined them all!)
- Place your bowl of egg whites over a pan of simmering water (remember the rule – make sure the water never touches the bottom of the bowl!), whisking constantly, until the sugar has dissolved. You can check this by rubbing some of the mixture between your fingers – it should be completely smooth. It should take about 5 minutes.
- Remove the bowl from the hot water and using either a stand mixer or an electric hand whisk, whisk the egg whites until very thick and voluminous. This should take 10 – 15 minutes, and the bowl must go back down to room temperature (Tip: make sure the bowl has cooled, otherwise it will melt the butter when it is added). It will look and taste a bit like marshmallow when it’s ready.
- Add your dairy free butter and Trex, no more than one tablespoon at a time, waiting to ensure it is fully incorporated before adding more. This is where it gets tricky – and don’t worry that your meringue will start to deflate!
- You might find (as I did) that the butter makes the icing very runny. Use Whisk-Kid’s tip – put it in the fridge for 15/20 minutes, then try to whip it again. Worked like a charm 🙂
- You might also find that the icing begins to look curdled – don’t worry – just keep whisking and it will all come together.
- Once all the butter is incorporated, and you’ve kept whisking for a few more minutes, your icing is ready to be flavoured. Add the lemon curd, and whisk for another minute or two.
- You should now have the most glorious buttercream – a buttery, marshmallow-y texture with a lemony flavour.
- Now to assemble the cakes:
- Use a small sharp knife to core out the cakes, add a tsp of lemon curd into the hole, and then put the core of cake back in.
- Add the buttercream to a piping bag and nozzle of your choice, pipe the buttercream on, and serve.