For dusting:pure icing sugar, sievedLemon curd5eggs265 gmcaster sugar155 mllemon juice150 gmunsalted butter, coarsely choppedFinelygrated rind of 1 lemonCupcakes155 gmunsalted butter, at room temperature155 gmcaster sugar2eggs1 tspvanilla extract155 gmself-raising flour75 mlmilkItalian meringue120 gmcaster sugar70 gmeggwhiteSmallpinch of cream of tartar
For lemon curd, whisk the eggs in a large bowl to break them up, then strain through a sieve. Combine the sugar, juice, butter and rind in a heavy-based saucepan over medium heat, stirring until the butter has melted and the sugar has dissolved. Add a little of the hot lemon mixture to the beaten egg to warm it up, then, while whisking continuously, gradually add back into the remaining lemon mixture in the pan. Cook, stirring continuously and scraping the base with a wooden spoon, until it has thickened and coats the back of the spoon (7-8 minutes). Do not allow to boil or it will curdle. Pour into a container and cool. Cover and refrigerate until chilled (1 hour). Makes 600gm. This recipe makes more than you will need. You can keep the extra curd in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.
For cupcakes, preheat the oven to 185C and line a 12-hole 125ml (½ cup) muffin tray with paper cases. Place the butter in the bowl of a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment and beat on medium speed for 2 minutes. Add the sugar and beat on medium-high speed until light and fluffy (5-8 minutes), stopping the mixer occasionally to scrape down the side of the bowl. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition and until the batter looks smooth (2-3 minutes), then add the vanilla extract and beat to combine. While beating on low speed, add the flour and milk alternately, each in 3 batches, and beat until just combined. Divide the batter evenly between the paper cases and smooth the tops. Bake until dark golden brown and the cupcakes spring back when their centres are lightly touched (15-20 minutes). Cool in the tin for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack to cool until you can handle them.
For Italian meringue, combine the sugar and 40ml water in a small saucepan over medium heat and cook, stirring until the sugar has dissolved, then increase the heat to medium-high, brush down the sides of the pan with a wet pastry brush to remove any residual sugar crystals and cook, without stirring, until the sugar reaches 121C on a candy thermometer. Meanwhile, place the eggwhite and cream of tartar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a whisk attachment and whisk until soft peaks form, then, whisking continuously on medium speed, steadily pour the hot sugar syrup down the side of the bowl of the mixer (not on the whisk) into the eggwhite. Continue to whisk on medium speed until meringue is cool, thick and glossy (10-12 minutes). Place in a piping bag fitted with a small plain nozzle and use immediately.
Cut a hole from the centre of each cupcake. It should be big enough to hold 2 tsp of lemon curd. Fill the holes with curd and dust with icing sugar. Pipe the Italian meringue onto each cupcake, covering the curd completely. Alternatively, spoon the meringue on top of each cupcake. Use a kitchen blowtorch to brown the meringue, if desired. Serve.
NoteRockpool Bar & Grill, by Neil Perry, will be published in October by Murdoch Books ($79.99, hbk). In this preview, recipes have been reproduced with minor GT style changes.
This recipe is from the September 2011 issue of Australian Gourmet Traveller.