My apologies for the quality of the photograph - it wasn't taken in the best conditions!
Lemon Meringue Cupcakes (makes 12 cakes)
For the Lemon Curd:
- Juice & zest 3 lemons
- 100g unsalted butter
- 175g golden caster sugar
- 2 large eggs, plus one extra yolk
For the Sponge:
- Grated zest 1 lemon
- 195g soft butter
- 195g golden caster sugar
- 255g self raising flour
- 3 large eggs, beaten
- 3-6 tbsp semi-skimmed milk
- 3 egg whites
- 150g golden caster sugar
Firstly make the lemon curd. Place all of the ingredients into a small saucepan over a low heat. Stir occasionally until the butter has melted then stir constantly, keeping the heat low. The curd will begin to thicken. The mixture is thick enough when it coats the back of a spoon and doesn't drip off easily. It should take about 10-15 minutes to reach this stage.
Do not try and rush the curd by raising the heat - you'll just end up with lemon flavoured scrambled eggs!
Once thick strain the mixture into a clean bowl to remove the zest (any scrambled bits of egg can be sieved out at this point too!), cover with cling film and refrigerate for the time being.
Next the cake mix. Cream the butter & sugar together until light and fluffy, then add the beaten eggs, flour, and lemon zest. Beat thoroughly until well combined. The mixture will be quite stiff, so slowly add spoonfuls of milk until a thick dropping consistency is achieved. It should easily plop off the spoon, yet not be runny as you'll still need to be able to make a well in the mix later.
Divide the cake mix into a 12-hole cupcake tin. You may find it useful to place circles of greaseproof paper into the bottoms of the holes first, to make removing the cakes easier. (I don't recommend using cake cases for these as it's difficult to judge how much to fill them).
Using a teaspoon, level off the cakes & make a tablespoon-sized well in each one.
Remove the lemon curd from the fridge and fill each well generously with the curd.
Finally, make the meringue. In a clean, grease-free bowl whisk the egg whites until they reach the stiff-peak stage (use an electric hand whisk for this, much easier!). Very gradually (about 1tbsp at a time) whisk in the caster sugar, making sure it's well incorporated between each addition. The meringue should be stiff and glossy once you've finished.
Use a piping syringe or bag (I like this one) with a star nozzle attached to pipe the meringue mix onto the tops of the cakes. Due to the rising of the cakes the topping works best if you pipe it on in small peaks, rather than one large swirl or blob.
Bake the cakes at 160 degrees C/320F/gas mark 3 for around 30 minutes, until the meringue is crisp and golden. A skewer inserted under the meringue (at an angle to avoid the lemon curd!) should come out clean.
Leave to cool in the tin for 10 minutes, then carefully ease them out and cool on a wire rack.
The cakes are delicious slightly warm, especially with custard! They will also keep in an airtight tin for 2 or 3 days.