12 March 2010
Fighting the Gray
These are cups of sunshine for the sun-starved. I first made these delicious cupcakes a year or so ago. They were pretty and sooo good but, though I tried, my pictures were nothing to post about. Winter days in the Pacific Northwest are not only short but often depressingly gray. Last year's photos definitely reflected the sun-starved and depressing part.
This winter is better, and hopefully I have gotten better at photographing my food and compensating for low light situations. I think my attitude has also improved a bit. I think I have gotten better at compensating for those low light days in the corners of my own mind. They no longer lend such a depressing palor to my general mood.
A Sunny Lemon Lift
One way to counteract the descending gray is to think of sunshine and how to bring a little of it into my day. Sometimes I write about vacation days and my experiences in a sun drenched land. Sometimes I find sunny yellow blossoms, like a branch from my witch hazel tree or a handful of daffodils, to set on the table. And sometimes I make something in the kitchen that reminds me of warmer days in the sun.
This recipe is just that kind of perfect antidote to the gray. Cupcakes themselves hint at happy sunny smiles and summer fun. Add to that the fact that these are made with olive oil which whispers of exotic coasts, and lemon, the flavor of sunshine itself. And then there is the dusting of thyme which reminisces with the scent of spring planted herb gardens. Yes, these do my mood a world of good. Try them when you need to lend a sunny lemon lift to your outlook.
Lemon Olive Oil Cupcakes with Thyme
from Cupcake Project
2 cups flour
1½ teaspoons baking powder
pinch of salt
1 cup sugar
2/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 Tablespoon lemon zest
3 large eggs
½ cup lemon juice
2 Tablespoons finely chopped fresh thyme
½ cup chopped hazelnuts, if desired
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line 12 cupcake tins with cupcake papers. Set aside.
In a large bowl, stir together flour, baking powder and salt.
In a mixing bowl, combine sugar and lemon zest, rubbing them together with your fingertips to release the oil.
Add the olive oil and, using an electric mixer (with a whisk attachment if available), beat on high speed until well combined.
Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
On low speed, beat in 1/3 of the flour mixture. When combined add half of the lemon juice and beat until well mixed. Continue adding another third of the flour mixture, the second half of the lemon juice, and then the remainder of the flour mixture until the batter is smooth.
Stir in the thyme, and hazelnuts (if desired).
Spoon batter into the cupcake liners, filling each 3/4 full.
Bake at 375 degrees for 20 minutes or until cakes springs back when pressed lightly in the center.
Cool on a wire rack.
Frost with Balsamic Whipped Cream, or dust with powdered sugar.
Yield: 12 cupcakes
Note: I baked some of the batter in mini loaf tins. I think the baking time was close to the same as for the cupcakes but I didn't make a note, so watch them. They will be done when the top springs back when pressed lightly.
Balsamic Whipped Cream
2 cup heavy cream
½ cup sugar
3 Tablespoons balsamic vinegar
In a medium mixing bowl combine cream, sugar and balsamic vinegar.
Beat at medium to high speed with an electric mixer until peaks form.