About this time of year in 2010, I was embarking on a huge adventure. I was making my first wedding cake for my cousin Hannah and her lovely groom, Eddie. Us both being foodies, Hannah and I came up with a bunch of ideas, some crazy (grassroot!) and some just too boring (plain vanilla). We eventually settled on a small lemon cake with buttercream, but I wasn’t entirely satisfied.
As a baker, I had a slew of lemon-centric recipes; but I wanted something exciting. Determined to not have a snooze-fest in my kitchen, I generally spice up my lemon recipes with a pinch of fresh fruit or a sprinkle of thyme. But, this situation called for some serious pizazz: ginger. It was perfect.
The cake was a huge success with Hannah, Eddie and all of the wedding guests. A year after, they pulled the cake topper out of the freezer (as per tradition), and recounted how the cake was just as good as on their wedding day. In celebration of their third anniversary, I turned this recipe into cupcake form so that everyone can enjoy the same happiness that my family delighted in on that day.
Lemon Ginger Cupcakes
2 cups sifted cake flour
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup whole milk
2 1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 tsp lemon zest
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
Sift together dry ingredients. Stir together milk and lemon juice. The mix will curdle. Beat butter and sugar in a bowl until light and fluffy. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Alternately add flour mixture and milk mixture in batches, beginning and ending with flour, mixing at low speed until just combined. Divide into lined cupcake tins (fill 3/4 full) and bake at 350• for 12 minutes.
4 large egg whites at room temperature
1/4 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup water
1 1/3 cups plus 2 tablespoons sugar
2 cups butter, cubed and softened
2 teaspoons zested ginger
Combine whites and salt in a bowl. Stir together water and sugar in a 3- to 4-quart heavy saucepan until sugar is dissolved, then bring to a boil over moderate heat.
When syrup reaches a boil, start beating egg whites with an electric mixer at medium-high speed until frothy. Do not over whip.
Meanwhile, put thermometer into sugar and continue boiling until syrup registers 240°F. Immediately remove from heat and, with mixer at medium-high speed, slowly pour hot syrup in a thin stream down side of bowl into whites, whipping constantly. Keep mixing until meringue is cool to the touch.
With mixer at medium speed, gradually add butter 1 piece at a time, beating well after each addition until incorporated. Continue beating until buttercream is smooth. Add ginger and beat 1 minute more.