The dilemma I find myself in when expecting city friends for a weekend brunch, is whether to bake something lovely, or take a stroll through our picturesque town to one of the excellent cafes.
It's usually brunch, as most of our friends now arrive with young children and a hundred assorted baby bags full of nappies, snacks, toys, wipes, blankets and spare items of clothing. The mother part of the equations come with man-sized (breastfeeding) appetites, and both parents are usually hungry for some adult conversation and a chance to sit back and let someone else take care of them for little while, as they enjoy the serenity of our home in the hills.
Considering the weather (windy, damp and very very cold) I decided to make up a last minute brunch from the limited contents of my fridge, pantry and garden. The staples I had to work with were: raspberries (fridge), lots of lemons given by a neighbour (pantry), and leeks (garden). Creamy potato and leek soup with some crusty bread, followed by light and fluffy lemon cupcakes topped with lemon buttercream and raspberries was served to our appreciative guests. We sent them home with a takeaway container with some of the leftover cupcakes, to be enjoyed on the trek back to Fitzroy.
Lemon cupcakes with buttercream and raspberries:
2 & 1/2 cups SR flour
1 cup caster sugar
finely grated rind and juice from one or two lemons (depends on "lemony" you want them!)
1 & 1/2 cups buttermilk (or regular milk with some lemon juice mixed in)
1/3 cup of rice bran oil
Prehead oven to 180C (I heated my fan-forced oven to 160 and it worked fine), line a 12 cup muffin pan with papers or grease lightly. Mix together dry ingredients including rind, then separately whisk together the wet ingredients. Add wet to dry, stir until it just comes together (too much mixing will result in rock hard cakes - you have been warned!) Spoon into pan and bake for 20-25 mins until cooked.
Cool cakes on a wire rack, then make the buttercream. I don't have a specific recipe for this; the best way is to beat up some room temperature unsalted butter (about 200 grams) using a mixmaster (any excuse to use my new Kitchenaid), add some lemon juice or whatever else you want to flavour it with - you could use jam, crushed berries, or other fruit juices - about two tablespoons worth of lemon juice will give it a nice tangy flavour. Once it pales, gradually add in the icing sugar - it could be anywhere between one to three cups, depending on the flavour and consistency you need. I like to keep it quite firm (more icing sugar) so it retains its shape when being piped on to the cupcakes.