When we were kids these weren’t called cupcakes at all, but were simply known as ‘Buns’ or – if you lived in Northern Ireland – ‘ Wee buns’ – which also is Northern Irish-speak for ‘easy-peasy’ – as in: ‘that exam was wee buns, so it was..’. You can understand why people find it hard to learn English, can’t you?
Cupcakes were a late arrival to these shores, and while there are some very good cupcakes out there (my friend Liz makes unbelievable ones, for instance) there are also a huge number of over-decorated, tasteless efforts as well.
However, these are not cup-cakes; they’re lemon-flavoured; they’re iced; and yes, they’re wee buns..
- An electric mixer
- a dessert spoon, and a teaspoon
- a 12- hole bun tray
- paper bun cases
- a small bowl – for the icing
- Cake/bun decorations
INGREDIENTS: for the buns
- 125g softened unsalted butter
- 125g caster sugar
- the fine grated zest of a large lemon, plus the juice of the lemon.
- 2 large eggs
- 150g Self-raising flour
For the icing:
- 250g Icing sugar
- the rest of the lemon juice.
- Food colouring (optional – see NOTES)
- Preheat the oven to gas 4, 180°C, fan 160°C.
- Line the 12-hole cupcake tin with the paper cases.
- Put the butter, sugar and lemon zest in a mixing bowl and beat with the electric whisk (or by hand with a wooden spoon) for 5 mins until light and creamy.
- Add in the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. It will curdle a little as you add the eggs, but don’t worry about that.
- Sift in a third of the flour and fold in gently, add the rest of the flour and fold in as before. Then add two tablespoons of the lemon juice and mix in.
- Divide the mixture equally between the bun cases. Use the dessert spoon to take a large dollop of mixture, and use the teaspoon to help it safely into each bun case.
- Pop into the oven, and bake for 25 mins until just firm and lightly golden.(I always check after 20 minutes, in case you need to turn the tray around for even baking)
- Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
When they are fully cooled, make the icing:
- Sift the icing sugar into the bowl
- Add the remaining lemon juice, a little at a time, and stir in well. If the icing is too stiff, add a teaspoon of boiling water until you get your perfect consistency.
- Use a round bladed knife to spread the icing over the buns.
- Top with your chosen decorations!
- These are lovely little buns to throw together when you don’t actually feel like baking!
- I sometimes have some mixture left over, enough to fill a few more cases, so I just bake them on the next shelf and they usually come out very well. So keep a few extra bun cases to hand in case this happens to you.
- The kids absolutely love to help ice and decorate these cakes (Do try and get them to wash their hands first 😉 ). They’re a perfect wet afternoon project for them, and they get to eat the result of their labours.
- The decorations can vary with the seasons – as can the flavouring – you could try replacing a tablespoon of the flour with the same weight of Drinking Chocolate to make chocolate buns; using orange zest and a teaspoon of cinnamon for a wintery bun – you’ll find your favourites as you go along. Don’t forget that Smarties and other little sweets can be used for decoration too!
- Food colouring: Usually I don’t bother with colouring the icing, but for special days it’s worth the little extra bit of bother. My handy hint – don’t add too much! Use the tip of a knife to add small drops, one at a time, then stir it in and add another drop until you get the shade you want.
- As you can see from some of the photographs in this recipe, it was Easter when I made this batch!