Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Cupcakes and lemon tarts

Our busy baking kitchen.

A couple of nights ago Nina and I went to the store and came back armed to bake: pounds of butter, dozens of eggs, kilos of sugar, and so on. Nina wanted to make sandbakels (Scandinavian cookies) from her grandmother's recipe with lemon butter and I was considering simple sugar cookies; then I read that the dough would need to be chilled for a couple of hours. I considered alternatives, and decided on the simple chocolate cupcakes from Zoe's and my weekend of baking.

There are two things about baking that I love: easy, repeatable recipes and other people baking for me. The cupcakes fulfilled the first criterion, Nina's sandbakels the second.

I made two slight changes to the cupcake recipe. Both Zoe and I agreed they could be more chocolatey, so I added two ounces of chocolate. And because the chocolate was semi-sweet, I reduced the sugar to 1/2 c. I also soured my own buttermilk: 1/2 c. whole milk, 1 1/2 tsp. lemon juice, let sit for 5 min.

Nina's sandbakels sound easy but took a bit of doing: Cream 1 lb. butter and 1 c. sugar. blend in an egg, then 5-6 c. flour and 1/2 c. ground almonds. Press into tins, bake at 350 for 15 min. We couldn't find proper tart tins, so we used muffin tins, which resulted in a chunkier, heavier cookie when they are meant to be light and crisp, but we were quite happy with the result.

Sandbakels, with lemon butter.

Lemon butter (lemon curd, to the English): In a double boiler combine 1/2 c. lemon juice, 2 c. sugar and grated rind from two lemons. Add 1 c. butter, stir until melted. Stir in 4 well-beaten eggs, continue stirring until thick. Let cool.

We had mixed results. The cupcakes were good, but I had a disaster trying to repeat the buttermilk icing. Our egg beaters broke and I got grumpy. Nina's sandbakels were a smashing success. Filled with the lemon butter, they were a tart, gooey, crunchy delight. I also used the lemon butter in a scrumptious chocolate dessert the next night. Stay tuned.


Zoe said...

Booooooo on broken egg beaters!

How did the chocolate addition/sugar reduction in the cupcakes work out?

Brenton said...

Well, as you may have noticed, the egg beaters have been replaced, thanks to Nina. The new ones work like a charm.

Definitely better with more chocolate. And I can only handle small portions of really sweet things, so the sugar reduction was good as well.