Jazz Up Your Holiday with Lemony Pear Cupcakes
It’s holiday time, and we are all rushing to find some fast and easy treats to serve our guests. Preferably something a little different from the standard sugar cookie. This is not the time to push anything too healthy, at least for dessert. All you need is your blender and a few lemons and pears, and you can whip up these light and tangy cupcakes in no time.
When you think about baking a cake, you don’t usually think about the blender. I’ve made thousands of cakes, and while I’ve made them in stand mixers, in bowls with an electric mixer, or with a bowl and a sturdy spoon, I really had not considered the blender as a tool.
But once you have a serious blender like the Vitamix, you find that you can use it to make a whole bunch of things that had not occurred to you before. In this case, I’m just using it to blend the wet ingredients to a super-smooth, perfectly mixed puree, then stirring it into the flour mixture.
Try Making Fresh Flour at Home
If you like using the Vitamix to buzz up a dessert, you should definitely try grinding fresh flour in it. I’ve got a whole chapter on grinding flour and baking with it in 300 Best Blender Recipes Using Your Vitamix, and I’m amazed at how well it works. You can give it a whirl with the standard blender container that comes with the machine, and if you like it, it’s worth investing in the dry grinding container, which is designed for grinding flours and mixing breads.
Once you start grinding flours, you open up a whole world of new flavors and textures. You can even make your own gluten free flours from grains or beans. As with most foods, fresh is best!
Indulge Yourself Once in a While
Of course, I’m a whole grain lover, and usually I’m posting about the joys of unrefined flour. But life is all about balance, right? So for this holiday treat, I used cake flour, which is not whole grain. It’s fun, now and again, to indulge in a sweet that practically melts in your mouth. Then the rest of the time, enjoy the fuller flavor and heartier texture of whole grains. Adding some fresh fruit gives it a little virtuousness, and I much prefer a light and lemony glaze.
These days, cupcakes seem to have become about half cake and half frosting, or at least they look that way on TV. Let the cake shine on its own, I say, and just drizzle on a touch of tangy lemon and sugar. The bonus is that it only take a second or two to stir up.
It’s Citrus Season
This time of year you find a great variety of citrus at the store, so it’s a great time to experiment with citrus flavors. You could use Meyer Lemons, Limes, or even Blood Oranges to make these cupcakes. The dramatic red of blood oranges would be quite beautiful.
Happy Holiday Baking to you all!
Pear and Lemon Cupcakes
These little cakes are studded with chunks of sweet pear and balanced with a touch of tangy lemon. They are so tender and delicious that you may not even need a topping, but go ahead and try the lemon glaze for an extra burst of lemony goodness.
Makes 12 cupcakes
- Preheat oven to 325°F (160°C)
- 12-cup muffin pan, greased or lined with silicone or paper liners
1 cup cake flour 250 mL
1⁄2 cup unbleached all-purpose flour 125 mL
2 tsp grated lemon zest 10 mL
2 tsp baking powder 10 mL
1⁄2 tsp salt 2 mL
2 large eggs, at room temperature 2
1⁄2 cup plain yogurt 125 mL
1⁄2 cup unsalted butter, softened 125 mL
1⁄2 tsp vanilla extract 2 mL
1 cup granulated sugar 250 mL
1 large pear, peeled and chopped 1
1 cup powdered sugar (see page 13) 250 mL
2 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice 30 mL (approx.)
1⁄2 tsp vanilla extract 2 mL
- In a large bowl, whisk together cake flour, unbleached flour, lemon zest, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
- Place the eggs, yogurt, butter, vanilla and sugar in the Vitamix container and secure the lid. With the switch on Variable, select speed 1 and turn the machine on. Gradually increase the speed to 7 and blend for about 30 seconds or until smooth.
- Pour the egg mixture over the flour mixture and stir until almost moistened. Gently fold in pear just until incorporated.
- Scoop the batter into the prepared muffin cups, dividing equally.
- Bake in preheated oven for 27 to 30 minutes or until a tester inserted in the center of a cupcake comes out clean. Let cool in pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes, then carefully transfer cupcakes to the rack to cool completely.
- Glaze: Place powdered sugar in a medium bowl and whisk in lemon juice and vanilla. If the mixture is too stiff to pour, stir in more lemon juice, 1 tsp (5 mL) at a time, to make a thick glaze.
- When the cupcakes are completely cooled, drizzle glaze on top and let dry.
For the most accurate measurements when making baked goods, weigh your dry ingredients. For this recipe, you’ll need 137 g cake flour, 57 g unbleached flour, 200 g granulated sugar and 120 g powdered sugar.
Cake flour gives cakes and pastries a delicate, tender texture because it is very low in gluten.