A while ago I had a crazy dream about pirates whose pernicious scurvy had driven them to flood Edinburgh so that they could sail their boats up to the castle and attack. If such an event were to occur, clearly lime and rum cupcakes would deal with the pirates; rum to attract them to said delicacy, and lime to cure their scurvy.
So I had been looking for an excuse to make these cupcakes for a while, and Mr N.’s birthday provided the perfect opportunity. No, not because he is scurvy-mad (although he does display such symptoms when talking about House). Rather, it is because Mr N. shares my interest in creating and consuming good food, and he is more than generous when it comes to this pursuit. So, being the loyal friend that he is, I knew he would appreciate the finer points of a discussion on how exactly to create these cupcakes. After considering the various possibilities of lime curd filling and rum syrup, we decided that the best course of action would be to make lime cupcakes and experiment with various forms of cupcakes and icing that Mr N. would just have to taste test.
Unfortunately, we seemed to hit upon a good combination first time round. And by good, I mean perfect…so there was no real need to continue the experimentation. I had been making these cupcakes as a bit of a joke, an experiment in flavours, so I was genuinely surprised at how delicious they were. They will become a favourite in the Apocalypse Bakery. The rum in the icing provides a great flavour, without having the overpowering aftertaste, as the clean taste of the lime kicks in. The cupcake itself is light, and the sweetness of the sugar and works with the zingy lime to balance out at a really pleasing taste. And, most importantly, Mr N. seemed more than pleased with the result.
Lime Cupcakes with Rum Icing and Candied Lime
The cupcake recipe if from the Buttersweet Bakery in Atlanta, featured in Bon Appetit Magazine in 2008. I decided that the featured dyed green cupcakes looked a little bit too much like mould for my personal preference, but go for it if you are into the ‘retro funk’ baking as it is termed in the article. I haven’t tried their icing, and it would have to be pretty good to tempt me away from the rum icing.
125 g plain flour
94 g self-raising flour (alternatively, use 219g plain flour and ¾ teaspoon baking powder)
250g caster sugar
2 large eggs
2 ½ tablespoons lime juice
1 tablespoon finely grated lime peel
¾ cup (184g) buttermilk
1) Preheat oven to 175C, 350F.
2) In a medium bowl, whisk the two flours together.
3) In a large bowl, beat the butter until smooth. Add the sugar and beat until light and fluffy.
4) Beat in the eggs, one at a time until completely incorporated.
5) Beat in the lime juice and finely grated lime peel; this will result in a batter that looks curdled and generally unhappy.
6) Add the flour in three small batches, alternating with the buttermilk in two batches. i.e., adding a third of the flour and beating until incorporated, and then half of the buttermilk and beating until incorporated…etc.
7) Fill the cupcake liners ½ to ¾ full. The recipe said that these would rise a lot, but mine didn’t really, so I had shorty cupcakes. To make them rise more, the ratio of plain to self-raising flour could be adjusted, but I really rather liked the way the ones ½ full turned out, so I’d be more inclined to fill the cupcakes more full.
8) Bake for 20-25 minutes. These cupcakes remain quite pale, rather than turning golden brown, so judge when they are done by touch
9) Leave to cool completely before icing.
175g icing sugar
1 tablespoon/15ml rum
1)Beat together butter and sifted icing sugar until smooth
2) Add rum and beat until totally incorporated.
If you want a stronger rum flavour, add more teaspoon at a time, and add icing sugar to achieve desired consistency. But remember, always consume rum icing responsibly….
1 bowl boiling water
1 bowl iced water
1) Thinly slice the lime. The thinner the better, but not so thin that they will fall apart.
2) Place the lime slices into boiling water to blanche for 1 minute. Drain.
3) Place lime slices into iced water for 1 minute. Drain.
4) Over a low heat, dissolve the sugar in the water. Do not stir the mix, but shake the pan a little if the sugar is not dissolving properly.
5) Once the sugar has been dissolved, put the limes in the pan. Simmer for at least 1 hour, up to 2 hours.
6) Remove from the pan with tongs/a fork and place on a cooling rack to dry. I found that this took around 3 hours for them to be mostly dry, but overnight is probably best.