Aren't sugar stars cheerful?
I've been taking a weekly functional training class at the gym with a couple of my friends for a while now, and we love our trainer for many reasons, not least of which is that he likes to dance and plays us cheese-tastic music (this past week we were subjected to Color Me Badd, of all things!). Anyway, it was his birthday and, although I know it sounds extremely counterproductive, we had to bring some kind of treat to class.
This ended up being a fridge-clearing kind of cupcake. I needed a recipe that would use up some buttermilk (leftover from the hot cross buns) and some of my huge stash of ground almonds (apparently I went on a buying binge at the Baker's Catalogue right around Christmas). I had initially thought of making an orange-almond cake, but...we had none, and I was feeling too lazy to go out and buy some. So, lemon almond buttermilk cake it was, thanks to epicurious.com!
The original recipe finishes the cupcakes with a soaking of lemon syrup. I opted for a lemon glaze instead so it would look more festive. And you know...at least we probably worked off some of the calories!
adapted from epicurious.com
2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/4 cups sugar
1 stick + 2 tbsp unsalted butter, room temperature
3 large eggs
3/4 cup buttermilk
1 cup ground almonds
1 tablespoon grated lemon peel
2/3 cup confectioner's sugar, sifted
2 tablespoons lemon juice
Preheat oven to 350 F. Line 2 muffin pans with paper liners (I got 20 cupcakes out of this recipe.) Whisk the flour, salt, and baking soda together in a medium bowl. Set aside. Cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes with an electric mixer. Beat the eggs in, one at a time, making sure each is incorporated before adding the next. Add the flour mixture in 3 additions, alternately with the buttermilk in 2 additions (so, flour-buttermilk-flour-buttermilk-flour). With the mixer on low speed, beat in the almonds and lemon peel. Fill the prepared muffin pans with the batter, which will be fairly thick; don't overfill, you should be aiming for somewhere between half and 2/3 full. Bake for 20 minutes, or until the cakes are risen, nicely browned, and a skewer inserted in the center of a cake comes out clean.
If you want to go with the lemon syrup instead of the glaze, combine the juice of two lemons with 1/3 cup of sugar and stir until dissolved. As soon as the cakes come out of the oven, poke them thoroughly with a skewer and spoon the syrup slowly over the top.
If you are going to go my route and go with the glaze, place the sifted confectioner's sugar in a small bowl and add lemon juice, a tablespoon at a time until the desired consistency is reached. You shouldn't need more than 2 tablespoons, but if you thin it out too much, just add a bit more sugar. Spoon over the cupcakes when they are cool. Decorate with sprinkles as desired.