Thursday, February 10, 2011

.Memories of Summer. Peachy Cupcakes.

Time and time again, I hear from people who live elsewhere in Canada, or have experienced winter in the more eastern climes of Canada, that here on the west coast, we don't really comprehend the concept of 'winter'. And time and time again, I beg to disagree. Our winters may not be white, or have wind chill factors of -45 C, but they are gray, dark, wet and long. I've met enough people who have come from eastern provinces to dwell in the west, who after 20-30 or so days of rain declare that they would trade places with anyone in a Toronto deep-freeze for a chance to escape the perpetual damp and drip that is a west coast winter.

With sunshine a distant memory, you need to find ways of coping until the rains of winter and spring give way to the vast lushness of a west coast summer, when fruit from the interior is cheap and plentiful. Frozen fruit is one way to remind yourself that the soggy weather will eventually give way to more pleasant weather, but while many people are hopping on the pie-wagon, I'd like to re-suggest the cupcake.

Over Christmas, I had the chance to purchase some amazing spice blends and extracts from a local spice artisan, Maison Cote. My greatest find, among many yummy spice blends, was their Peach Extract. Distilled from real peaches, their peach extract is like summer in a bottle. I whipped up a batch of simple and easy cupcakes using this extract, and topped them off with a light, lemon frosting. Simply put, these treats are pure summer, in cupcake form.

I based this recipe on the Joy of Baking's basic cupcake recipe, but tweaked it to make it peachy keen!

Simply Peachy Cupcakes
  • 1/2 cup (113 grams) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2/3 cup (130 grams) granulated white sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp pure peach extract
  • 1 1/2 cups (195 grams) all purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup (60 ml) milk
Buttercream Frosting
  • 2 cups (230 grams) confectioners sugar (icing or powdered sugar), sifted
  • 1/2 cup (113 grams) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 2 tsp lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp milk or light cream
  • orange food colouring
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and line 12 muffin cups with paper liners.
  • With an electric mixer, or with a hand mixer, beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in the vanilla extract and lemon zest.
  • In a separate bowl whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt.
  • With the mixer on low speed, alternately add the flour mixture and milk, in three additions, beginning and ending with the flour. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed.
  • Evenly fill the muffin cups with the batter and bake for about 18-20 minutes or until set and a toothpick inserted into a cupcake comes out clean. Remove from oven and place on a wire rack to cool. Once the cupcakes have completely cooled, frost with icing.
Buttercream Frosting
  • In an electric mixer, or with a hand mixer, cream the butter until smooth and well blended.
  • Add the vanilla extract. With the mixer on low speed, gradually beat in the sugar.
  • Add the milk and beat on high speed until frosting is light and fluffy (about 3-4 minutes).
  • Add a little more milk or sugar, if needed. Tint the frosting with desired food color