Sunday, April 7, 2013

Lemon-Yogurt Cupcakes with Raspberry Jam

Originally I had intended to make these cupcakes for Easter Sunday and give them to my neighbors for an Easter treat. I had already made Easter cookies for my immediate family (they’re the same cookies I made for Valentine’s Day only a different shape, different color frosting and Easter-appropriate sprinkles) so I was off the hook there. But, I didn’t have enough cookies for the neighbors and I always think it’s a nice gesture for a holiday. I didn’t end up making these cupcakes for Easter either, sorry neighbors. It’s the same story as always, I was tired after work, and the recipe looked like it required more work and focus than I was willing to give. So, I held off for another week and took a nap.

I woke up “early” (8 am) Thursday morning and while my hubby was still fast asleep I was a busy little worker bee around the house. Since I figured he wouldn’t be up for a little while (he works later than I do, so he sleeps later too) I thought I would do a little baking to keep myself entertained before we ran around and took care of some errands.

As previously mentioned I had been putting this recipe off because it was going to involve a little work, starting with buttering and flouring the cupcake pans. It’s one of my least favorite things when it comes to baking. I don’t have any real reason other than using cupcake liners is so much easier and doesn’t require washing the cupcake pans after the baking is complete. Since this recipe said I would yield 24 cupcakes, I had to butter and flour (and wash) 2 cupcakes pans, not 1. No thanks.

My second reason for putting this off was I noticed I was going to have to use multiple bowls which again means multiple steps and more dishes to wash afterward. Something I wasn’t in the mood for on Easter Sunday. So, now that I had finally mustered up the energy to tackle these cupcakes I started by whisking together the dry ingredients and setting them aside.

Next up, whisking the egg whites into soft peaks. When I have to whisk egg whites, 99% of the time I use my stand mixer. It’s just so much easier. I can turn it on and let it do its thing while I work on something else. This case was no different, except that the recipe said to whisk the egg whites at medium speed. Of all the times that I can remember I’ve always whisked them at a higher speed, so I was a little concerned that medium speed wouldn’t get the job done. While the egg whites were whisking in a different bowl I worked on beating the butter with my hand mixer. I checked on the egg whites every minute or so to see if they were making any progress, and they weren’t. After letting them whisk about another minute on medium without any progress I decided it was time to increase the speed. My stand mixer goes from 0-12. I had started with 6, what I would consider medium, and ultimately increased the speed to 9, what I would consider medium-high. After a couple minutes I started to see some progress and was well on my way to properly whisked egg whites. Once the egg whites were at the right consistency I added in the sugar and continued whisking them on medium-high until stiff peaks formed. The recipe said to put the egg whites into another bowl, but rather than dirty another bowl, I just left them in the stand mixer until I was ready to use them.

I was hoping that after I was done with the egg whites the worst would be over, that was not the case. The most work came when it was time to combine the egg whites with the rest of the batter. The rest of the batter was pretty thick and stiff, and the recipe said to whisk in the egg whites by hand. This didn’t seem like the right approach based on the consistency of the batter, but in Martha I trust, so I went for it. It was tough and it took a while. When it was finally time to fold in the rest of the egg whites instead of whisk them, things were much easier and went much faster, but it still took a little work.

Now that the batter was done I filled each cupcake cup three-quarters full, or my best estimation of three-quarters full. They were probably a little fuller than they needed to be, but I always prefer a rounded cupcake to a flatter one. I just think they look nicer. I ended up with enough batter for 20 cupcakes, so I was 4 short of what the recipe said I would get, which meant I would have 4 cupcake cups lined with butter and flour that was now going to be baked into the pan and harder to clean. Hooray.

I baked each batch of cupcakes for 20 total minutes with a turn halfway through the baking time. They came out perfectly. They were more rounded than the cupcakes in the picture in Martha’s cookbook, but my guess is that’s because I used more batter. As soon as the cupcakes came out of the oven I ran a butter knife along the edges of each cupcake so they would be easier to remove once they were cooled. Then, I let them cool completely in the pan.

I decided to wait until the following day to put the cupcakes together. So on Friday while my hubby was playing FIFA I sliced and layered the cupcakes with raspberry jam. I used a teaspoon of jam per layer and ended up not having enough jam for all of the cupcakes (I bought a 12 oz. jar of Smuckers seedless raspberry jam). I think I had 2 cupcakes that went without jam, but honestly the cupcakes were really good on their own so I wasn’t upset about it. They were very light and fluffy, the flavor was vanilla with a hint of lemon. Yum! After the cupcakes were layered with jam I garnished the one I liked the best with confectioner’s sugar so I could photograph it. The rest I waited to garnish until later that night so they would be ready to take to work in the morning. Sometimes if you dust cupcakes with confectioner’s sugar ahead of time the sugar soaks into the cupcake and is no longer visible when it’s time to serve them. Now that I know that I try to wait to garnish with confectioner’s sugar until the last minute.

Finally, taste test time! I did actually try a cupcake right after it came out of the oven before it was raspberry jammed (technical term). I was curious as to what the cupcakes would taste like before the jam and they were delicious. I would have happily eaten all of them without the jam, but that’s not the point. They were even better with the jam and so much prettier. I love how they turned out, especially when you can see the inside and the layers of jam. I think they’d be even prettier with a whipped cream garnish instead of just confectioner’s sugar, or maybe a little drizzle of glaze. I might try that next time if I decide to make them again. I also made my hubby try them because I like to get his opinion and I figured he wouldn’t be scared to try these (some flavors he just doesn’t dig) and he really liked them. One of his favorite treats is Entenmann’s Raspberry Danish Twist and he said these cupcakes tasted like that. Needless to say he’s eaten more than the one I made him try. So far I’ve managed to restrain myself and have only eaten 1, however there’s a good chance that stat doesn’t make it through the day. I can’t let them go to waste, can I?