Saturday, April 2, 2016

This Easter...

Warning. A rather self indulgent and, to be honest, boring introduction coming up. But also a tasty cupcake recipe. Skip to the end ;)

Our Easter week kicked off with Jess getting a stomach bug. This was on top of about 6 weeks of illness in our household! But it was okay, the sun was shining so I escaped cabin fever by getting out into the garden and doing some serious pruning (you can just call me The Hacker...seriously, I just love chopping things down!). Then on Wednesday, for a reason unbeknownst to me, I decided that was the day I was going to get fit, so I dusted off my exercise dvds.

Why am I telling you this?

Because Jillian Michaels you are totally getting the blame for what happened next. Turns out, I really shouldn't have exerted myself.

Thursday came and I woke up. Feeling rough (and also pretty achy). Well on top of everything else that was going on at the time (the husband also wasn't very well) a phone call was made. "Mum? (help) What are your plans for Easter (help)? I'm not (help) feeling too good...how do you and Dad fancy coming (help) to cook/clean/get up with Jess spend Easter with us (heeeeeelllllllp!!!)?!"

Tulips that Jessica 'bought' for me. She was happy to show them to me - less keen about actually handing them over!

So what was initially looking to be a pretty downbeat weekend turned into a wonderful Easter with my parents. It was the most restful time that I've had in a long time - we were very spoilt. They did all the cooking and housework and plenty of playing with Jess (of course!). I napped, lay on my bed reading magazines, baked and the loveliest thing of all...spent time with my family.

Mum and Dad took Jess out for the afternoon on the Saturday. I had 3 hours to myself at home for the first time since Jess was born. The pressure was on to make the most of it...so naturally I tried to nap :) When sleep alluded me I decided to bake something I wouldn't normally be able to squeeze into a naptime. I dreamt up a spring bouquet of lemon cupcakes decorated with buttercream roses in pretty pastel colours. The lemon cupcake part went well however, while they were in the oven baking, I realised I had barely any icing sugar! So my 'spring bouquet' became a batch of pink icing and some stingy roses alternated with even stingier thin layers of icing spread on the remaining cupcakes!

But it was fun. And really relaxing. And, most importantly, the cupcakes still tasted great! Lemon cupcakes just feel right for spring time. The fresh flavour matches the freshness of the flowers and greenery springing up around us.

Just out of shot is the lonely cupcake that didn't get any icing...I helped it feel loved by eating it.
Lemon cupcakes - makes 10 cupcakes
adapted from Bake by Rachel Allen

Cake ingredients:
125g unsalted butter, softened
125g caster sugar
Finely grated zest of 1/2 lemon
2 eggs, beaten
150g self raising flour

Lemon butter icing ingredients (the original quantities so you'll have plenty for decorating!):
75g unsalted butter, softened
175g icing sugar, sifted
Finely grated zest of 1/2 lemon
1-2 tsp fresh lemon juice
Milk (optional)

1) Line a muffin tray and preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius.

2) Cream the butter, sugar and lemon zest until light and fluffy.

3) Gradually add in the beaten eggs, mixing in a little flour if the mixture starts to curdle.

4) Fold in the flour until just combined.

5) Divide the mixture between 10 cases and bake for 15-20 minutes (until lightly golden brown, the cupcakes should be slightly springy to touch)

For the icing:
Cream the butter until very soft. Add the icing sugar and zest, mixing until combined. Add lemon juice to taste and to soften the icing consistency. If the icing remains too stiff for piping then add a little milk.

The lemon icing is really what makes these cupcakes work so don't hold back! I talk about piping roses here if you're not sure how to do this. Roses are such a simple but pretty way to decorate cakes, it's a favourite of mine!

So, here's the real reason for this post. It isn't really to blame Jillian Michaels (but seriously, that's your beginner 30 day shred?!)...or even to share this delicious cupcake recipe. It's to say a massive thanks to my mum and dad for your love and support. You are wonderful and we loved seeing you. Thanks for giving me time to bake and ice cupcakes leisurely!

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