Richard Holden’s Lemon Meringue Cupcakes
This summer we’ve teamed up with trained chef and BBQ master Richard Holden to produce a series of restaurant-worthy recipes to help curb our appetites while in lockdown. From British classics to Mediterranean favourites, Richard’s Lockdown Menu brings the flavours and quality of the foods we’re all missing to our own kitchens.
First up on the menu we have lemon meringue cupcakes. A delicious twist on the classic dessert, these refreshing and summery treats are perfect for enjoying in the garden or park. The sponge is perfectly cooked to temperature, and the Italian meringue has the ideal satiny texture achieved by monitoring the sugar solution closely with a Thermapen.
For the cup cakes
170g unsalted butter, softened
170g caster sugar
3 eggs, large
170g plain flour
Zest of a lemon
12 cupcake cases
For the Italian meringue
2 egg whites
1 tsp vanilla sugar (optional)
To make the cup cakes
1. Preheat the oven to 200°C/180°C fan and prepare the muffin tray with the paper cases.
2. Using a stand mixer or electric whisk, cream the butter and sugar in a large mixing bowl until combined. Beat on high for 2 minutes until you see a visible change in the colour of the butter to a paler yellow.
3. Add an egg and begin mixing on medium then add a third of the flour. Repeat with the second egg and a third of the flour.
4. Add the lemon zest before adding the final egg and the remaining flour and beat together until everything is fully incorporated.
5. Spoon the mixture into the paper cases, dividing evenly between all 12.
6. Put in the oven and bake for 12 minutes before checking with your finger for a little spring in the top of the cupcakes. If they are springy and nicely coloured check their core temperature using your Thermapen. Sponge cakes should be between 95 and 98°C when baked beautifully without over-baking and drying out. If they aren’t springy return the oven and continue baking for a further few minutes before checking again.
7. Remove from the oven and transfer to a wire cooling rack. Place to one side to cool.
8. Once cooled take a small pointed knife and remove the centre from each cup cake, big enough for a generous teaspoon of lemon curd to fill.*
9. Fill the cupcake centres with lemon curd and place to one side.
*Don’t forget the removed centre will be delicious with a little lemon curd on their own!
To make the Italian meringue
1. Place the sugar and water in a small saucepan and bring to the boil.
2. Put the egg whites in a large, clean bowl ready to start whisking. If you have a stand mixer bring it close to the hob where you’re making the sugar syrup. If you don’t have a stand mixer make sure you have a willing and able assistant to start whisking the egg whites at the necessary time!
3. To ensure the sugar mixture is evenly mixed in the saucepan swirl the pan rather than stirring it. Stirring will cause the sugar to crystallise and it won’t work properly, but swirling then brushing the side of the saucepan with a wet pastry brush will keep the sugar solution in good shape.
4. Use your Thermapen to keep checking the temperature of the sugar syrup. It will reach 100°C very quickly and then the temperature will climb more slowly from there, but stay by the hob. Swirl, brush down and check the temperature of the solution and once you have a reading of 108°C begin whisking the egg whites on high.
5. Keep boiling the sugar solution until you get a reading of 116°C. At this point your egg whites should be whisked to stiff peaks and that’s perfect. Keep whisking the eggs and slowly, while steadily drizzling the hot sugar solution into the bowl with them. Keep whisking on high until all the sugar solution is incorporated. You’ll see the egg whites increase in volume slightly and their appearance will change to a delicious pearlescent finish. All you have to do now is keep whisking until the entire mixture is cool (room temperature, 22°C).
6. To pipe the meringue onto the cupcakes I chose a medium star nozzle and filled a piping bag. If you don’t have a piping bag you can absolutely dollop some of the meringue onto each cupcake and fluff to a wistful appearance. For this I prefer to use a fork rather than a spoon as it helps create a gorgeous texture with little spikes and frills, but you can experiment with your favourite look.
7. Blow torch the meringues to give them their quintessential golden brown edges, or if you don’t have a blow torch place the tray of cup cakes under a hot grill until they have reached a desirable level of golden brown.
All that’s left to do is boil the kettle for a refreshing cup of tea to drink with your cake as you relax as you watch the world go by!
Read more from Richard’s Lockdown Menu: