Raspberry and Marzipan-stuffed Lemon Cupcakes with Lemon Buttercream frosting

Over analysing the number of kisses, the mysterious handwriting, the elusive postage stamp. As I was growing up, February 14th fascinated me as each year it added yet another piece to the puzzle. Who had been sending me cards for as long as I could remember? I can still remember the disappointment at finding out that it was in fact my dad, and not my very own secret admirer.

Somehow I think I missed the point of Valentines.

A hallmark-sponsored mess of rosy tones shimmering and feathery, commercialized in an excuse to demand material gifts…wherever your for or against the holiday, one shouldn’t refuse the opportunity to let the people in your life know that you appreciate them.

INGREDIENTS    –   1 1/2 Cup A.P flour   –   1 tsp baking powder   –   1/4 tsp baking soda   –  pinch of salt   –  3/4 Cup brown sugar   –  1/3 Cup sunflower oil   –   1 Cup coconut milk   –   2 tsp vanilla extract   –   1 tsp finely grated lemon zest   –  1 tsp lemon juice   –    1/3 Cup chopped marzipan (vegan)

PREHEAT OVEN TO 180°C (360°F)

1.  Sift the flour, b.powder, b.soda and salt together into a large roomy mixing bowl.

2.  In a separate bowl, stir the sugar, oil, coconut milk, vanilla and lemony things together. Add the wet to the dry, and thoroughly combine being careful not to overmix.

3. Carefully fold in the chopped marzipan, and spoon into 12 cupcake cases, 2/3 full.

4. Bake for 20 minutes, or until they pass the skewer test.

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FILLING INGREDIENTS

–   3/4 Cup Raspberry Jam   –  squeeze of lemon zest   –  sprinkle of almond essence

5. When your cakes are cooled, use a knife to take a pyramid-shaped cone out. Remove the cone, eat the cone, and fill with jammy filling.

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FROSTING INGREDIENTS

–  1/2 Cup  vegan butter  –  3 Cup icing sugar   –  2 tbsp lemon juice

6. My frosting is completely taste-guided, therefore add more or less of the lemon/sugar as you see fit. Load into a piping twizzler and twirl on the top of the cupcake. Sprinkle a few flaked almonds or sprinkles for the piece de resistance.

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Vanilla Cupcakes with Peach and Raspberry Jam Frosting

The most restorative things about spending time at my grandparent’s house is the ease and simplicity of familiar routine. Without errands to run, and very few  social obligations timetabled, the time can be spent studying crossword puzzles in front of the fire with thesaurus’ and encyclopedias scattered across collective laps.

Another reason i find it so refreshing, is that 80% of the time is spent focused around food; picking the seasonal crops from the allotment, washing and slicing the vegetables for the roast lunch, kneading homemade bread to rise and bake for breakfast the following day and even using the infamous “crumb collector” to clean away the remnants of freshly enjoyed toast.

One of my favourite moments, synonymous with every trip to date, is the silent scramble to lick the jam spoon after the last dollop has been used in the lull of the post-breakfast haze. Coupling the use of jam as flavouring for the frosting in this recipe, with recollections of the fantastic homemade jam my gran makes in the late summer, these cakes bring about a only warm satisfaction that only happy food and fond memories can create.

INGREDIENTS – 200g all-purpose flour  – 150g golden caster sugar  – 40g vegetable oil  – 1tsp vanilla essence  – 200ml soy milk  – 1tsp apple cider vinegar   – 3/4tsp baking powder  – 1/2 tsp baking soda  – 1/4 tsp salt

Preheat the oven to 175°C (350°F)

1. Mix the vinegar and the milk in a small bowl and allow to curdle. In a larger bowl, combine the oil, sugar and vanilla essence, adding the curdled milk once thick.

2. Gently sift the flour, b.powder, b.soda and salt into the liquid mixture, and beat together until smooth. You can use an electric mixer if you want to ensure a smoother result, with slightly less effort.

3. Carefully spoon the mixture into cake cases. Note that the batter will be runny, so expect drizzly trails on your bake tray. Bake for around 20-25 minutes, or until they appear golden and pass the toothpick test.

FROSTING

INGREDIENTS  – 180g icing sugar  – 1Tbsp flour   – 80g margarine  – 1.5Tbsp peach & raspberry jam – a drop of red food colouring – sprinkle of coconut/glitter/sprinkles

4. Soften the butter in a medium bowl, and slowly sieve in the sugar and flour. Next mix in the jam and colouring, and set in the fridge while the cakes cool.

5. When cooled you can use either a piping gun (or just a spoon and a knife) to ice the tops of the cakes, and decorate with your sprinkle of choice.

Nostalgia until the last bite.