Pretty little cakes

The past few weeks have been a whirlwind of activity: my daughter’s 21st in Melbourne, a farewell afternoon tea party for her and a family dinner at home the weekend after (with a broken dishwasher to boot) as well as an exam for uni in the middle. Mim departed for her latest adventure – university in New York City for a year – last week and appears to have landed on her feet… Phew!

For the farewell afternoon tea party I made my absolute favourite – mini butterfly cakes with lemon curd. They look so pretty, are always a hit and are the perfect size – 2 bites and they are gone. I have used the lemon curd recipe from Stephanie Alexander’s the cook’s companion for many years, much to the delight of my friend Sue who is quite a fan. I cook the curd in a heatproof bowl over simmering water rather than in a saucepan directly on the heat, adding all the ingredients at once, purely because you can leave it and not worry about it curdling or burning. The cup cake recipe I use is from my 24 year old copy of The Australian Women’s Weekly  Cakes & Slices Cookbook.

Lemon mini-butterfly cakes

makes 48

48 mini cupcakes

1 cup lemon curd

1 cup whipped cream

icing sugar, to serve

When the cakes are cold, cut out a circle from the top, cutting down to a depth of about 1cm. Place a small amount of lemon curd in the cavity, top with a dollop of whipped cream then the “wings” made from the halved circles of cake. Dust with sifted icing sugar.

Lemon curd

from the cook’s companion by Stephanie Alexander

Makes 2 cups

2 large lemons

100 g unsalted butter

175 g sugar

3 eggs, whisked and strained

Finely grate zest and juice the lemons. In a heavy-based saucepan combine butter, lemon juice, zest and sugar. Stir constantly over heat until the sugar has dissolved . Add eggs off the heat and stir to mix well.

Cook over gentle heat, stirring constantly, until mixture has thickened. Do not allow it to boil or it will curdle.

Pour straight into small, hot sterilised jars or into a bowl if using immediately.

Cup cakes

makes 48 mini cupcakes

125 g unsalted butter

1/2 teaspoon vanilla bean paste

3/4 cup caster sugar

 2 eggs

1 1/2 cups SR flour, sifted

1/2 cup milk

Cream butter, vanilla and sugar in a small bowl until light and fluffy; beat in eggs one at a time, beat until combined.

Stir in half the flour and half the milk, then stir in remaining flour and milk.

Spoon into mini patty pans and bake in 180C oven for 10 mins or until cooked. Cool on a cake rack.