Lemon Swan Cupcakes


Yes, really, more lemon, it is such a bright flavour, perfect for this time of year where it’s only starting to get dark at 6 pm. It’s the Easters holidays, full of more revision – made a little more bearable by the (now half empty) bag of Easter themed Hershey’s kisses on my desk. But also, time for shopping in Whole Foods, watching The Hunger Games, pedalos in Hyde park, and pinterest. (A pinterest ramble is about to come btw)

 I created the design for my food technology coursework – 20 A3 pages, 15,000 words, which I literally finished with 5 minutes to spare – I had to run to registration, I do not enjoy running.
That was an intense 1 1/2 hours before the deadline, I don’t think I have ever been more angry with Microsoft Word in my life – whenever you move one little picture – everything goes wrong. everything gets randomly moved around the pages or even completely disappears! (why? why does it happen?)

Okay, I really will talk about the cupcakes now – I had made them for my project as a coffee and walnut sponge, filled with coconut and cinnamon caramel, topped with 7-minute fluffy coffee frosting, and the swan head was made out of choux pastry. Did I mention that we only had two hours to make all of this, including washing and taking pictures at every stage? Stressful timed cooking is not my forté, I think I probably looked verrryyy angry during that time, I prefer a more sloth like approach.

Making theses cupcakes was a lot less stressful, I had plenty of time and I didn’t even have to make choux pastry, or the filling! It may look like its long/ difficult, but really, it doesn’t actually take long at all, and you can use the swan decoration method for any flavour cupcake/frosting/cookie you want!

Lemon Swan Cupcakes

will make 10-11 cupcakes

adapted from here

1/2 cup (4 oz / 110g) granulated sugar
6 tbsp (3 oz / 85g) butter, softened
1 tbsp lemon zest
2 eggs
1 1/2 cups (7 oz / 195g) all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt

3/4 cup (185 ml) buttermilk
1/4 cup (4 tbsp) lemon curd
Lemon Frosting:
5 tbsp butter, softened
3 tbsp cream cheese
1 tsp oil
zest of 1 lemon
3 tbsp lemon juice
3 cups (12 oz / 325g) powdered sugar
Swan head cookies:
1/4 cup (2 oz / 55g) butter, softened
2 tbsp granulated sugar
1/2 cup + 1 tbsp (2.5 oz / 70g) all purpose flour
1 tbsp egg (reserved from cupcakes)
1 tsp lemon/vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C) and line a muffin tin with paper liners
Place granulated sugar, butter and lemon zest in a large bowl; beat with a mixer at medium speed until well blended . Whisk eggs together and add slowly add to the sugar mixture whilst beating, but reserve 1 tbsp of the egg for the cookies. Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl. Add flour mixture and buttermilk alternately to sugar mixture, beginning and ending with flour mixture. Spoon batter into muffin tins, filling them about 3/4 full.
Bake at 350° for 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Remove the cupcakes from the tin and  let them cool completely on a wire rack.

While the cupcakes are baking, make the frosting by creaming together the butter, cream cheese, oil and lemon zest. Add in the lemon juice and powdered sugar, and mix slowly until completely combined. If the frosting is too thick, add a little more lemon juice/water/milk. If it is too thin, add a few tablespoons more of powdered sugar.

To make the cookies, cream together the butter and sugar, then add in the extract and egg and cream until fully combined. Stir in the flour until it’s all mixed in.
Take small pieces of dough and roll into 10 cm long snakes which are about 7mm thick (about 3/4 the width of your pinkie finger).
Shape the snake of dough into an ‘S’ shape and place on a cookie tray lined with baking paper – this is the neck. Roll a little bit of dough into a ball and push onto the top end of the S shape- this is the head. Take a tiny piece of dough and push it onto the right side of the head to make a beak. Repeat until you have 1 head per cupcake (I make a few extra in case any of them break).
Bake for 10 minutes (at 350 degrees F). Let them cool on a wire rack.

To Assemble:
Unwrap the cupcakes and cut their tops off using a serrated knife. Use a small knife or a spoon to make a cavity in the centre of the cupcake. Fill this with lemon curd

Fill a piping bag, with a star tip attached, with frosting. Pipe it onto the cupcake to cover the curd as shown in the photos below. Cut the removed top of the cupcake in half. (The next step is optional, the cupcakes still look good without decorated wings) Use a small, thin, flat decorating tip (e.g. wilton # 44) to pipe ruffles onto the outsides of the cut halves.

Stick a baked cookie swan head into the centre of the frosted cupcake, then take the wings and push them, flat side down onto the top of the cupcake with the frosted side facing out – if you find it hard to not damage the piping when you do this, freeze the frosted wings for about 30 minutes before pushing them into the top of the cupcakes. (I originally used meringues for the heads as you can see in the pics below, but they were really fragile so I changed to cookie dough)

Refrigerate the cakes until you’re ready to eat them!

5 thoughts on “Lemon Swan Cupcakes”

  1. Wow, these look so pretty! I love all the decorations and details with the swans, so creative 🙂

  2. Holy crapola Izy I’m going through your recipe archive and these are INSANE!!! Talented much? I would not have the patience to make the cookie swan heads, let alone pipe FEATHERS onto the cupcake wings. I am blown awayyy. Also, doing this in under 2 hours? I think you’re a goddess.

  3. Hello. I just got to know about your web today.. seems very interesting with creative recipes. One question though, oil in the cream cheese buttercream??? hmmm

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