Yesterday, I decided that I was going to make the most of my last week of summer. Throughout that last weekend, I kept joking, “I’m a dead woman walking!” I think people thought I was kidding, but little did they know that I was telling the truth. For me, the loom of school feels like death. It’s literally a cloud of impending doom. Because I know it’s going to be a toughie. Because I know that my over-achieving ways will get the best of me. Because I will push until I get to the end. Which, I realize now, is seriously only THREE MONTHS AWAY! Can I get a hall-le-fucking-yu-yah!
Sorry. I’m done now. This whole week, instead of planning ahead for autumn and all its glory, I plan on savoring every last minute of summer. From the sunny skies to the fresh produce , I’m grateful for it all. Compared to others, this summer has been fairly mild. A few killer days, but thats about it. I made due on my promise to read as much as possible, although I still have a pile waiting for me. I hung out with friends, got a new job, enjoyed the olympics, took some mini vacations, and generally kicked back as much as possible with summer school and new job stress.
Overall, golf claps all around for the summer of 08.
Anyways, these cupcakes came out of my quest to savor summer in every way. They are from nick Malgieri’s Perfect Cakes, which has proven to be a trusty cake-baking tool. This man knows his stuff or is at least pretending to know his shit because both cakes I’ve made from him have turned out great. They made lovely additions to a baby shower spread I was invited too. All the attendees loved it, especially the numerous pregnant ladies who were trying to cool themselves off with their fan with their feet propped up on stools, and beads of sweat dripping down their face. Looking at them, I swore to myself that if I was ever going to have children, I’d either pop it out in the winter or I’d live off ice cream throughout the summer months…
The buttermilk cake was soft and slightly spongey, in a good way. I swear, if I were to marry a baking ingredient, it would be buttermilk. I know that might sound like a strange thing to say but think about it. Buttermilk is like the weird, slightly eccentric cousin to whole milk and sour cream. Tangy and tart, it makes all baked good slight and flavorful, all with half the fat! haha I could work for the milk company now… This cake was so good that I plan on making this one of my go-to recipes. You know, the kind that never lets you down, the one you turn to in an emergency. It would work well as a layer cake too, since it was sturdy and could hold up to decoration and frosting.
The lemon wasn’t as prominent as I would’ve liked so if you want an extra lemon punch, add in some more extract or add in some zest. I didn’t have fresh lemons on hand so I was without zest but I bet it’d help kick it up a bit. The cream cheese frosting was simple and not-so-sweet. I liked the addition of honey instead of powdered sugar but for those who prefer a more sugar-rushy frosting, toss in some sugar. I didn’t mind the slightly tart frosting…
Although, if you look close enough, you can see that my frosting slightly separated. I have one moment stuck in my mind, the exact moment when the frosting turned on me. It was after I added in the butter with the cheese, and I had beaten it for probably two minutes. All of a sudden, my frosting tightened, and then slightly curdled. This has NEVER happened to me, with cream cheese frosting. My butter might have been too softened; it was sitting out for a while to get it to room temperature. I thought I’d leave it in the fridge for a while to set up, and while that worked, it didn’t stabilize the frosting for long… Has this happened to you? Is there a certain length of beating for cream cheese frosting? Someone, anyone, give a girl some answers here.
With this recipe, I say adios to summer. I’m sure the sun will keep on rising and the temperatures will still soar, but that lovely peace of mind summer brings will soon be gone. But, on the upside, whose ready for fall?! And yes, if you are wondering, those are frosted Animal Cookies on top. I rediscovered my love for them, although I remembered why I banished them from my grubby hands at the age of 10. The bag magically disappears after an hour of watching Mad Men… Hhmm whom to blame for that one…
Lemon Buttermilk Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting
Adapted from Nick Malgieri’s Perfect Cakes
2 ¾ cup all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2 sticks (1/2 pound or 8 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 cups granulated sugar
4 large eggs
1 cup buttermilk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 teaspoons lemon extract
12-cup muffin pan with cupcake liners.
Cream Cheese Frosting:
1 stick or 8 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
One 8-ounce package cream cheese at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 teaspoons lemon extract
1/3 cup mild honey
Grease your muffin pan or line the cups with cupcake liners. Position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat your oven to 350F.
Combine and mix the flour, salt, and baking soda. Set aside.
Place the butter and sugar in the bowl of a heavy duty mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and beat on medium speed until the mixture is very light, about 5 minutes. Beat in the vanilla and lemon extract. One at a time, add the eggs, making sure to beat the batter until it is smooth after each addition.
Decrease mixer speed to low and beat in one-third of the flour mixture. Stop the mixer and scrape the sides with a spatula. Beat in one half of the buttermilk, scraping down the aides again. Beat in another third of the flour, then the remaining buttermilk, stopping and scraping yet again. Finally, beat in the remaining flour mixture.
Scrape the bowl well with a large spatula. Scoop two tablespoons into each liner, smoothing the tops. Bake for about 20 minutes or until the cupcake tops are golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool the cupcakes on a wire rack.
To make the frosting:
Beat cream cheese, butter, lemon and vanilla in large bowl until light and fluffy. Gradually beat in honey. Cover and refrigerate until firm enough to spread, about 15 minutes.