Yes, dust off your microplanes and zesters, we are well and truly back into lemon season. People are bringing bags of lemons into work, making as many preserved lemons as they can squeeze into their store of empty jars, making babies make funny faces by feeding them lemon slices and advertising free lemons on the uni trading list (which by the way has had some hilarious things for sale on it lately... anyone willing to pay $50 for a rosemary bush that you have to dig up yourself?).
I had an overabundance of lemons recently due to a friend of mine owning a lemon tree that could rival the Gloucester Tree, and I was going to a friend's place for an impromptu Mexican Fiesta dinner so I decided to put them to good, desserty use.
Coles had a deal recently where you got a free Philadelphia recipe book, called Simply Heaven, with the purchase of any three Philadelphia products, and given that Philly lasts for so long and I would no doubt easily use three cartons of it before it went off, I let this clever marketing ploy work exactly as they had planned. It's actually a pretty decent cookbook, with some interesting uses of Philly and a photo for every recipe, so I'm sure I'll be going back to it for more "inspiration for everyday cooking and those special occasions when you want to impress" as they spruik in the introduction of the book.
I can see it now... I've set the most amazing table you've ever laid eyes on, with beautiful origami napkins and sparkling crystal glassware; the kitchen is spotlessly clean despite the amazing Philadelphia feast I've cooked up for whomever it is I am wanting to impress on this special occasion; I serve up dish after dish to the rapturous joy of my guest/s and eventually they exclaim "Conor, there is just something so SPECIAL about these dishes, but I can't quite put my finger on it", and I turn to the camera and wink, whispering "Thanks, Philly!".
So, in search of inspiration and with lemons a-plenty I flicked through my new cookbook looking for something that wouldn't require any ingredients I didn't already have on hand and that would be quick and easy to make. I soon came across an Iced Lemon Pound Cake recipe, and of course decided that instead I would turn it into cupcakes, and also add some poppyseeds.
These were tasty, soft, moist cupcakes and went down a treat after we had all gorged ourselves on too many delicious tacos, washed down with a margarita or five.
Lemon & Poppyseed Cupcakes
Adapted from "Iced Lemon Pound Cake" recipe in Philadelphia's Simply Heaven cookbook
1/8 cup poppyseeds
Enough milk to cover poppyseeds
250 g cream cheese, softened (I used the light stuff)
1 3/4 cup caster sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup oil (I used vegetable)
2 cups self-raising flour, sifted
Grated rind of 2 lemons
Juice of 1 lemon
1 1/2 cups icing sugar, sifted
Juice of 1 small lemon
Lemon threads for decoration (I used shredded coconut instead)
1. Add just enough milk to the poppyseeds in a mug/bowl to cover them, and let them sit for at least half an hour.
2. Beat the cream cheese, sugar and vanilla with an electric mixer until smooth. Gradually beat in the eggs and oil then stir in the flour, lemon rind and juice. Mix until combined, then stir through the poppyseeds.
3. Spoon the mixture into lined cupcake trays, filling them to around 3/4 full. Bake in a moderate oven (180 degrees C) for 20 minutes or until cooked when tested with a skewer.
4. Remove from trays and allow to cool completely on wire rack before icing.
5. Combine the icing sugar with enough lemon juice to form a thin-ish icing (you don't want it to run down the sides, so don't make it too thin). Drizzle/spread over the cupcakes then sprinkle on lemon threads or shredded coconut.