we jump at the chance

single cupcake

You may recall a certain sesame-loving noodle guardian from earlier in the pages of Sweet Amandine. Her name, dear readers, is Anna (or, affectionately, Anner), and she is the youngest of our four-sibling brood.

Impeccable taste in noodles is only the first in a long list of Anna's winning qualities. For one thing, never was there a cooler cucumber on the tennis court. No matter the score, whether her opponent is poutily throwing her racket to the ground, or gleefully pumping her fist in the air, Anna's face remains frozen in an expression of steely resolve, her lips flat as a line, her blue-eyed gaze focused straight ahead. She can organize a mean social studies binder, perform entire multi-character scenes from the movie Shrek, complete with spot-on accents, and, if necessary, could live indefinitely on a diet consisting only of ramen, scrambled eggs, chocolate, and Panera sandwiches. If you're looking for a forgotten lyric to a Queen song, or an honest opinion on a new haircut or pair of earrings, Anna is your girl. A few months ago, she even went so far as to declare me immortal. It meant a lot, since at the time I was feeling anything but.

And another thing: You know that girl in high school who was gorgeous, well-liked, and a straight-A student, an outstanding athlete and a skilled artist? No? Neither did I. But this mythical creature exists, people, in the form of my youngest sister!

Sometimes, it's hard for me to believe that such a wholly fantastic person could actually be related to me. But when, out of the blue, she asks me to help her bake a birthday cake - despite the fact that there is not a birthday in sight - I smile with the knowledge that we are indeed cut from the same cloth. That day in the kitchen, Anna's hilarious realization that the primary ingredient in buttercream frosting is, (gulp), butter, was, quite literally, the icing on our slightly sloping cake.

Oh, Anner bananer! It's no wonder that when you go and turn 15, we jump at the chance to celebrate you.

By now, you have hopefully devoured (and perhaps even shared, though I know that's asking a lot) the little lemon cupcakes sent from my kitchen to yours. Please finish up the ninth grade just as soon as possible and come and visit us in Boston. If the mood strikes, we can bake a cake.

cupcakes on tray

Lemon butter (cup)cakes
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen, who adapted her recipe from Ina Garten's Barefoot Contessa Parties

For cupcakes:
2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 1/2 c. granulated sugar
4 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
1/3 c. grated lemon zest (6-8 lemons)
3 c. all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1/4 c. lemon juice
3/4 c. buttermilk
1 tsp. vanilla

For glaze:
2 c. powdered sugar
4 T. lemon juice

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a 12-muffin tin, or line with paper or foil liners. (Alternatively, you can make one large Bundt cake, or two loaves with this recipe. If making loaves, line the bottom of the pan with parchment paper for easier removal.)

Cream the butter and granulated sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle. Beat until fluffy, approximately five minutes. With the paddle still running at medium speed, add the eggs, one at a time, and the lemon zest.

Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a bowl. In another bowl (or glass measure cup, as I like to do it), combine the 1/4 c. lemon juice, buttermilk, and vanilla. Alternately add the dry mixture and the wet mixture to the butter and sugar, beginning and ending with the dry. Pour or spoon the batter into the muffin tin or loaf pans.

Bake the cupcakes for 25-30 minutes. (The loaves will take longer, 35-40 minutes.)

Allow the cupcakes to cool in the tin for 10-15 minutes. Then, remove them from the tin and place them on a rack to cool completely.

In a clean bowl, whisk together the powdered sugar and 4 T. lemon juice. Spoon the glaze over the completely cooled cupcakes and allow it to set.

Makes approximately 24 cupcakes, or 2 loaves.


Sarah said...

sweet amandine and sweet sister (you). I liked this post!

Jess said...

Thank you, Sarah. Your comment made me smile. Writing sweet things about Anna is a piece of cake. All I have to do is call it like I see it!

Jennifer said...

WOw that looks so great!!!!! You are a nice sister!! :)

Jess said...

Jennifer - Thanks for your note.

Megan said...

It was so sweet reading about your sister -- reminds me of my sister, who recently turned 17 (the second youngest of my 4 siblings). Unbelievable. Her name is Martyann, but we call her Anna Banana (so I found it cute you call your sister Anner Bananer). And she, like your sister, is one of those gorgeaous, artistic, athletic mythical creatures. She's so stylish and so popular, I sometimes wonder how we're related. I was always a nerd at her age!

Anyways, those cupcakes look delicious!

Jess said...

Hi, Megan. Thanks for sharing in the sister love. Pretty neat having little sisters we can look up to, isn't it?

Cathy Holm said...

Jess, I'm going to make your recipe today but, I'm going to bake in a tube cake pan. The cupcakes so good, I just know they will taste even better.

I do have a question. Do you wash the lemons with any special wash? I've never zested before, so I bought a zester yesterday.

Thank you for this recipe.