Posts Tagged lemons

Life Gave Me Lemons: Winter Citrus Cupcakes

Winter Citrus Cupcakes 1

A cupcake for winter - and a photo taken in early morning winter light.

I wish I lived in California for a lot of reasons. The food, the wine country, the weather, the Bay Area, the lefty West-Coasters – there’s many things to love about The Golden State.

But last week I discovered a new, previously unexamined reason – I could grow my own citrus. Nonna, whose parents live out in San Francisco, brought me back lemons from her father’s lemon trees that grow in their backyard. And no, I can’t imagine living in a place where lemons are actually able to grow in one’s backyard. That’s not something that happens in Eugene, Seattle or DC.

Since I’ve started baking more, I’ve begun to look at citrus fruits as treasure troves. You can use the fruit itself in savory salads or salsas, or in desserts, like trifles. You can juice them, and then use the juice to make curds, flavor batters, or make cocktails. You can candy the rinds and coat them in sugar for an elegant cupcake or cocktail decoration. And the oils in the skins are incredibly pungent – adding just a little to your cake or cookie batter will perfume the entire dough. There’s something incredibly satisfying about rubbing lemon zest into sugar and seeing the sugar turn a vibrant yellow color, and smell of fresh, tart lemons.

Needless to say, I was very excited about these lemons. And I happily turned them into citrus cupcakes this weekend, which, in my opinion, are one of the best remedies for the winter doldrums. I made them for a friend’s volunteer meeting and they seemed even more appropriate given the weekend’s snowfall. The cake has a mellow buttery flavor and fine crumb that’s brightened with lemon and orange zest.

This was my first time experimenting with meringue buttercream, where you make a meringue base from whipped egg whites and sugar before adding the butter. I loved the flavor – I added lemon curd and orange juice to the frosting, which gave the buttercream a lovely, tart, bright flavor. But the texture was still a little greasy for my taste – the mouth-feel was just too much like straight butter. I’m intrigued with this new frosting, don’t get me wrong. I think it has potential. But it wasn’t exactly what I wanted.

These cupcakes may be a little labor intensive but it’s the winter. It’s the time for us to hole up in our kitchens, dreaming of California gardens filled with lemon trees.


Lemons. Pre-cupcake.

Recipe: Winter Citrus Cupcakes


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Weekly Roundup: Life Gave Me Lemons Edition

Nigella Pound Cake Slices

Lemon pound cake - a possible lemon project.

Actually, technically, Nonna gave me lemons. And not just any lemons – lemons from her father’s lemon tree, which grows in their backyard in San Francisco. I can’t wait to try them out this weekend – lemon curd, lemon frosting, candied lemon peel – so many possibilities.

Of course, there are so many things to do this weekend; sometimes I feel like I spend all week waiting for the weekend, so I can get all my baking and blogging projects done. But I think I’ll manage to fit some lemon confections in there. There’s always time for lemons.

Also, if anyone is looking for Saturday night, Nonna is holding a little get together at the Capital City Brewery downtown. Email me if you’re in need of something to do!

Recipes I want to try, as found during my Internet expeditions this week:

  • Martha at A Measured Memory is back to blogging, with some casatiello (bread studded with cheese and salami). Would that’s make an awesome Superbowl treat? Especially if you served the slices with even more cured meats and nice cheeses.
  • Lemony persimmon muffins, from Mango and Tomato. I think I’ve had a persimmon in restaurants, but I’ve never just picked one up on my own.
  • Pizza, with 00 flour (very fine flour from Italy), from Pete Bakes!

And in other news:

  • Lemmonex’s blog comes to an end. And I am totally sad – like, it reminded me of that epic day when Hissyfit closed the forums (I’m actually really curious if anyone will get this reference, other than my sister). But I’m very happy for her (she has a new job that would make blogging a little difficult).
  • DC must really be coming into its own, because we now have a secret supper club – a secret restaurant run out of a private home. Hush Supper Club serves up vegetarian Indian cuisine at an undisclosed location. Check out their site for details, or follow them on twitter. And check out write-ups from Dining in DC and Metrocurean.
  • Tasting Table – like Daily Candy but for food – just launched in DC. Read about them on their site, or read the write up in Top Shelf.
  • French Twist DC writes up a “cupping” she attending? What’s a “cupping” you ask? Doesn’t that sound kind of dirty? You’ll just have to read about it (hint – it’s akin to a wine tasting).
  • The Arugula Files experiments with black garlic. All I know about black garlic is that it once figured in a Top Chef episode.
  • Samuel Fromartz, the home baker who won Young and Hungry’s baguette contest, had the lucky job of making the bread for Alice Water’s Sunday Night Supper dinner last Sunday – the fundraiser for Martha’s Table. Fromartz writes about his experience in The Atlantic.
  • More details on Meat Week and Wednesday’s pork barrel BBQ extravaganza at Mango Mikes, from Capital Spice.
  • Would you buy a whoopie pie pan? I dislike the whole idea, myself. From The Kitchn.
  • Anyone want to start stalking The Real Housewives of DC with me, in hopes that we’ll get to see some awesome drama? Maybe there’s a way I can get my Real Housewives fix without Bravo! Frozen Tropics reports the Housewives were spotted at Sova Wednesday (although, seriously, like the Real Housewives would ever to go H street in real life? That was so obviously a set up by the producers).

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