The past few weeks have been something of a whirlwind in some ways, but also the creation of a mountain out of a molehill, the combined result of which has been a dirth of blogging. A weekend at home however has enabled me to breathe, relax and to create.
So far the spring has not only awoken nature but seems to have breathed life into my social life, which although is incredibly fun and interesting, is also at times exhausting. I have caught up on and cemented friendships, watched new ones develop and blossom and have spent time with family, both mine and J's. In the past month alone we have stayed in the Home Counties, Hamburg and France and ever occasion, every meeting of friends has conjured up a plethora of emotions.
I have let myself become crowded by what needn't be, but what has at times become, the 'serious' side of life; my consultancy business, the search for a house, the start of a new French class, tax returns (actually I think that anyone would find that one troubling at the best of times), the hunt for a specific outfit (how on earth can the thought of new shoes become stressful?!) and a recurrent bout of stomach problems. It sounds silly but I have not had the headspace (such a loathsome phrase and yet so accurate) to write, to relax, to cook.
Yet I am fortunate enough to have been reminded that life is too short to worry constantly and that a crowded mind can not be a creative one. And so this weekend I took a deep breath, had some fun and let the baking tins edge their way out of the cupboard.........
When asked which fancies he would like to munch on this week, J replied "fairy cakes" and so I was more than happy to oblige. Upon reflection I think that he would rather have demolished a chocolate cake or a sticky cherry confection, however J sensed that I would have more fun decorating and icing the little fairy sweeties. What a wonderful man he is. As my spirits felt lifted I decided to lighten the air with the aroma of lemons and so made these
Lemon Cupcakes (makes 12)
125 soft unsalted butter
125 caster sugar
125 self-raising sugar
1/2 tsp lemon extract (or limoncello - I'm determined to use it up!)
zest of one unwaxed lemon
1 - 1/2 tbsp milk
Preheat the oven to 200C and line a 12-bun tin with paper cases.
Cream the butter with the sugar and then add by stages, a spoon of sieved flour, a spoon of egg, flour, egg etc until the ingredients have combined (doing this gradually ensures against the dreaded curdling).
Add the lemon extract and the zest. Add a little milk as necessary for a flowing texture - so that it drops easily from the mixing spoon when tapped.
Spoon evenly into the paper cases.
Bake in the middle of the oven for up to 20 minutes or golden brown in colour and springy to the touch. Remove from the oven and transfer onto a wire rack as soon as they have cooled sufficiently to the touch.
Easy! Then have enormous fun decorating them with whatever silly fripperies you have to hand. I can never resist the urge to make baby pink, soft blue and white icing and to use a mixture of hundreds and thousands (J's favourite), crystallised violet sprinkles and sugar flowers.