When life gives you a big bag of lemons from Costco, you make lemon cake before they all spoil.

Ingredients

6 lemons, zested and juiced
6 eggs
1 cup vanilla greek yogurt
1 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
4 cups unbleached flour
3 cups sugar
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 sticks unsalted butter
8 ounces cream cheese
lemon extract
3 cups confectioners sugar
2 tablespoons heavy cream
1/2 cup Dickinson’s Lemon Curd

How I Made It

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Prepare cake pans by rubbing with solid coconut oil (like you would with butter) and/or line the muffin tins with paper liners.

This recipe makes four 8 inch layer cakes or 3 dozen cupcakes or a combination of both.

Sift the dry ingredients (flour, baking powder and soda, salt) together in a large bowl. Combine the eggs, oil, and lemon juice in the bowl of a standing mixer. Use a whisk and do this by hand — if you use the mixer it’s very sloshy and messy.

Put the bowl in the mixer, with the paddle attachment.  Add the flour mixture in batches, alternating with the yogurt, mixing at medium-low speed. Once combined, you can turn up the speed to add a little air to the batter so it’s less dense. Just be careful not to overwork the batter.

Fill the cake pans/muffin tins three quarters full.  Bake for 25 minutes or until a cake tester comes away clean but for a few crumbs.  Let the cakes cool completely.

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To make the frosting, beat the cream cheese and butter (both at room temperature) together until smooth.  Add all the lemon zest plus a few drops of the lemon extract. Beat in the confectioner’s sugar in batches, remembering to turn down the speed of the mixer so you don’t have a giant POOF of sugar.  Continue until you have lots of smooth, fluffy frosting.

To assemble the cake, put one layer upside down on a cake plate. Spread the lemon curd over the top.  It helps if you work the lemon curd with a spatula in a bowl before spreading it on the cake.  Put the second layer on top, right side up.  Using a frosting spatula or other thin, flexible knife, frost the cake.  Decorate with something festive (I used Mike and Ikes). Because of the lemon zest, this frosting is not great in a piping bag (the zest gets stuck in the decorator tip).

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How It Turned Out

I was nervous about the olive oil (I mean, it goes with lemons but does it go with cake?). And the yogurt was because I had no sour cream. Even so. . .

This would win the Great British Bake Off!  The cake is the perfect consistency, neither too dense nor too light.  The taste is a lovely burst of lemon without being too sour or too citrusy.  And I love how the zest shows through in the frosting.

 

 

 

 

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It’s easy to fall into a chocolate rut when it comes to cupcakes. What’s better than chocolate, anyway? Well, these light and sweet cupcakes made with fresh apples give those rich chocolate versions a run for the money.

This recipe makes 2 dozen plus cupcakes, so make sure you have lots of people to share with.

Ingredients:

4-6 organic Fuji or Gala apples, peeled and chopped (3 cups)
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1/4 cup sugar
3 sticks of unsalted butter
2 cups of sugar
4 eggs
1 tbs vanilla
2 1/2 cups all purpose unbleached flour
6 ounces Greek Gods Honey, Vanilla, Cinnamon and Orange yogurt
Cream Cheese Frosting

How I Made Them:

Start with the apples, so they macerate and create a cinnamon sugar syrup before you add them to the batter.  In a large bowl, combine the chopped apple (smaller pieces of apple are better) with the cinnamon and sugar.  Stir to combine the ingredients well and then set them aside.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line 2 cupcake tins (24 cupcakes) with sturdy paper liners. These cupcakes are moist, so use a substantial liner.

In a standing mixer, cream the butter and sugar together on medium speed. Scrape the sides at least once to be sure there are no lumps. When the butter mixture is light and fluffy, add the eggs one at a time. Scrape the sides again, and then mix in the vanilla.  Add the flour in three batches, alternating with the yogurt.  The result will be a very thick batter.

Remove the mixing bowl from the stand mixer.  Use a rubber spatula to fold 3 cups of the cinnamon apples into the batter.  (Save any left over apples for the next time you make pancakes or need an ice cream topper.)

Spoon 1/4 cup of batter into each cupcake tin.  The batter is very thick, but don’t worry if it just sits in the cup rather than filling it.  In the oven, the batter will spread as it bakes and fill the cup.

Bake for 23 minutes or until the cake tester comes away clean but for a few crumbs.  Let cool completely before frosting.

How They Turned Out:

Moist, tender, appley, and not too sweet.  Perfect for tea parties, breakfast, or a snack.  I made these for a St. Patrick’s Day party (the decorations are from Fancy Flours).

Apple Cinnamon Cupcakes

Comes the end of the Twelve Days of Christmas, and I still have egg nog in the fridge. Since I’m not a fan of drinking the nog, I decided to make one final holiday treat. This recipe comes from Roxana’s Home Baking. I substituted Stevia baking blend for sugar, and vanilla latte cream cheese frosting for chocolate. The result was a charming cupcake to share.

Egg Nog Cupcakes

I’ve discovered that I don’t have to use buttermilk in my cakes. Which is good, because buttermilk is gross (I mean, it’s sour milk!).  Instead, I use an equal substitution of low-fat or non-fat greek yogurt, which has twice the protein.

These little cakes have a rich vanilla taste and a moist texture, finished with a fancy white chocolate ganache.

Ingredients:

Cupcakes
1 1/2  cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
8 tablespoons butter, room temperature
1/2 cup low-fat plain or vanilla greek yogurt
2 large eggs
3 teaspoons vanilla extract

Ganache
3/4 cup heavy cream
12 ounces white chocolate chips
2 tbs Rose’s Grenadine

How I Made Them:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Prepare a cupcake pan with paper liners.

Cream the butter and sugar together in a standing mixer.  While that’s going, sift the dry ingredients together in a separate bowl.

Beat in the eggs, one at a time.  Then add the dry ingredients, alternating with the yogurt.  When the batter is smooth, add the vanilla.

Fill the cupcake cups three quarters of the way full.  Bake on the center rack for 22 minutes or until a cake tester comes away clean.

While the cupcakes bake, bring the heavy cream to a simmer in a heavy bottom sauce pan.  Slowly whisk in the white chocolate until you have a smooth and creamy ganache. Add the grenadine at the end, whisking to blend thoroughly.  You should have a pale pink ganache.

Cover the ganache with plastic wrap and chill for 45-60 minutes.

Let the cupcakes cool completely before frosting.  When the ganache has set, beat it into a fluffy frosting with a hand mixer.

Frost the cupcakes with a thin bladed frosting spatula, and decorate with pretty sprinkles or pearls.

How They Turned Out:

Rose Cupcakes

Sweet!

Coca-Cola Cake is a Southern favorite, a dense chocolate cake that pairs perfectly with chocolate butter cream frosting. My version uses dark chocolate cocoa instead of unsweetened cocoa, and I omit the traditional marshmallows and pecans.

CocaCola Cupcakes

Ingredients:

2 cups sugar
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 cup butter
1 /2 cup vegetable oil
3 tbs Hershey’s Special Dark cocoa powder
1 cup Coca-Cola
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 cup buttermilk
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla

How I Made Them:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and prepare a cupcake tin with festive cupcake wrappers.

Melt the butter over medium heat in a heavy bottom saucepan.  Add the oil, cocoa, and Coca-Cola and whisk together.  Turn up the heat and bring the mixture to a boil.

In a large heat-proof mixing bowl, sift together the sugar and flour.  In a small bowl, dissolve the baking soda in the buttermilk.

Pour the hot liquid mixture over the dry ingredients and mix together with a rubber spatula. Add the buttermilk mixture, then the eggs, then the vanilla, stirring to mix into the batter in between each ingredient.

Fill each cupcake tin about 3/4 full.  Bake for 30 minutes or until a cake tester comes away clean. Let the cupcakes cool completely.

Frost the cupcakes with a simple chocolate buttercream frosting: beat together 3 tbs dark chocolate cocoa, 1 stick of butter, 3 tbs half and half, and confectioner’s sugar (about 3 cups, depending on the consistency you want).

Makes 20 cupcakes (I don’t know why it makes an odd number).

How They Turned Out:

Make sure you have plenty of ice cold milk! These are amazing!!

I have a friend of Irish descent whose birthday is this week, so in honor of his big day — and St. Patrick’s Day — I made these manly cupcakes featuring Dechutes Brewery’s Black Butte Porter. A porter is similar to a stout beer  (last year his cake was made with Guinness) but not technically the same.  I chose this particular porter for the cupcakes because it pairs well with chocolate.

Ingredients:

3/4 cup Hershey’s special dark chocolate cocoa powder
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
a pinch of salt
1 bottle of dark beer (porter or stout)
1 stick unsalted butter, melted
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
3 large cage-free eggs
3/4 cup light sour cream

How I Made Them:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Prepare two muffins tins (this recipes makes 24 cupcakes) with festive liners.

Sift together the dry ingredients in a large bowl.  In a standing mixer, combine the stout, melted butter, vanilla, and sour cream.  Mix on low-medium speed until smooth, then add the eggs one at a time, mixing completely in between.

Add the flour mixture in batches, mixing at low-medium speed until thoroughly blended.  You will have a thin batter.

Fill the cupcake liners about 3/4 full.  Bake for 25 minutes or until a cake tester comes away clean.

Let the cupcakes cool completely before frosting them with a basic cream cheese frosting: beat 8 ounces of low-fat cream cheese and 1 1/3 cup of confectioner’s sugar together and flavor with a 1/4 tbs of cinnamon and a little vanilla.

How They Turned Out:

Birthday cakes fit for the manliest of men.

Porter Cupcakes

Summertime calls for lighter, fresher cakes than the decadent chocolates and cheesecakes I usually make.  These lemony little confections are a wonderful way to end a meal, especially with a side of fresh berries.

Ingredients:

3/4 cup butter, at room temperature
3 eggs, at room temperature
2 2/3 cups organic all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
3/4 cup Splenda sugar blend
1 cup low fat milk
the zest and juice of one small lime
the zest and juice from one medium-large lemon

How I made it:

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Grease or paper cupcake tin(s).

In a standing mixer, beat butter and sugar until combined and fluffy. While that’s going, sift the dry ingredients together in a separate bowl and set aside.

Beat the eggs one at a time into the sugar and butter mixture. Add the flour mixture in batches, alternating with the milk, until all combined. Stir in the zest and juices.

Divide the batter among the cupcake tins, to make 16 regular cupcakes or 30 mini-cupcakes. Bake for 20 minutes or until a tester comes out clean.

Let cool completely before frosting. Tonight I paired them with this easy vanilla buttercream frosting recipe.

How they turned out:

The cupcakes had a lovely lemony taste, but could’ve been less dense (cake flour next time?). And I thought the frosting overwhelmed the lighter taste of the cupcake, but everyone else (especially the toddler) raved about the vanilla cream tops.  They did look good, especially with the addition of these lovely wrappers and toppers from www.fancyflours.com.