While at first glance, these might look like a lot of work, they really aren’t and they are truly delicious. The lemon curd can be made up to four days ahead of time to help things along. Once put together, they are best eaten that day, but will keep for one or two days in an airtight container in a cool place.
DIETARY INFO VEGETARIAN | DAIRY FREE | WHEAT FREE MAKES 10
90 ml (3 fl oz) strained lemon juice
1½ teaspoons agar powder
2½ teaspoons kudzu (kuzu) or cornflour (cornstarch)
250 ml (9 fl oz/1 cup) coconut milk
60 ml (2 fl oz/¼ cup) maple syrup
60 ml (2 fl oz/¼ cup) brown rice syrup
½ teaspoon natural vanilla extract
2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest
tiny pinch of ground turmeric
195 g (63?4 oz/1½ cups) white spelt flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
¾ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda (baking soda)
45 g (1½ oz/½ cup) desiccated coconut
2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
2 teaspoons natural vanilla extract
185 ml (6 fl oz/¾ cup) maple syrup
125 ml (4 fl oz/½ cup) coconut milk
60 ml (2 fl oz/¼ cup) rice milk
80 ml (2½ fl oz/? cup) macadamia oil
150 g (5½ oz/? cup) golden caster (superfine) sugar
60 ml (2 fl oz/¼ cup) water
3 large egg whites, at room temperature
To make the lemon curd, place the strained juice and agar in a small saucepan and whisk until smooth and well combined. Stir over very low heat for about 5 minutes, then increase the heat to medium and bring to a gentle boil. The mixture will be very thick at this stage, but will thin out as the agar dissolves. Immediately reduce the heat a little and continue to cook at a very gentle simmer for 5–8 minutes, stirring often to avoid the agar sinking to the bottom and sticking.
Meanwhile, place the kudzu in a bowl with 60 ml (2 fl oz/¼ cup) coconut milk and mix to a smooth slurry. Stir in the remaining coconut milk, the syrups and vanilla extract. Remove the lemon mixture from the heat, then whisk in the coconut mixture. Return to the heat and stir continuously over very low heat, just until the mixture comes to the boil. Remove from the heat and whisk in the lemon zest and turmeric. Transfer the curd to a small bowl, press a piece of baking paper onto the surface to prevent a skin forming, then refrigerate for 1 hour or until set. Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 days.
To make the cupcakes, preheat the oven to 170°C (325°F). Line a 12-hole muffin tin with 10 paper cases (leave the middle 2 holes empty).
Sift the flour, baking powder and bicarbonate of soda into a bowl. Add the desiccated coconut and whisk through to combine.
Place the remaining ingredients in another bowl and whisk. Add this to the dry ingredients and mix until just combined. Leave to sit for 1–2 minutes – the mix may appear wet but will firm up as it stands. Divide the batter among the paper cases (using about ¼ cup batter per case). Bake for 25–30 minutes or until a skewer inserted into one of the cupcakes comes out clean. Cool in the tin for 15 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.
To make the Italian meringue, place the sugar and water in a small saucepan over medium heat and bring to the boil, brushing down any sugar crystals on the side of the pan with a wet pastry brush. Do not stir or the sugar may crystallise. When the sugar has dissolved, increase the heat to a rapid boil and cook until the syrup reaches 121°C (250°F) on a sugar thermometer.
Meanwhile, place the egg whites in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment. As the temperature of the syrup approaches 115°C (239°F), whisk the egg whites on medium speed until soft peaks form, taking care not to overbeat.
When the syrup reaches 121°C (250°F), immediately remove it from the heat, and with the motor running slowly, gradually drizzle the syrup into the egg whites. When all the syrup is added, stop whisking, then use a spatula to scrape the side of the bowl. Increase the speed to medium–high and continue whisking for 5 minutes or until the meringue has cooled down completely and is thick, soft and silky. Use immediately.
To put the cupcakes together, using a small paring knife, cut a 3 cm (1¼ in) round piece of cake from the centre of the cooled cupcakes, ensuring you have 6 mm–1 cm (¼–½ in) border of cake (I freeze these middles to use for a trifle later on). Stir the chilled and set lemon curd until smooth, then place 1 tablespoon curd into the cupcake holes, pressing down a little to fill. Spoon the Italian meringue into a piping (icing) bag fitted with a 2.5 cm (1 in) nozzle and pipe the meringue over the curd. Using a kitchen blowtorch on low flame, gently brown the edges of the meringue while being careful that the flame doesn’t set fire to the paper case.
?Lemons are highly acidic, and this will affect the set of the curd. If using Meyer lemons, reduce the amount of sweetness added. This recipe makes more lemon curd than you will need for the cupcakes. Store the leftover curd in an airtight jar in the fridge for up to 1 week.
?For nut-free cupcakes, replace the macadamia oil with 100 g (3½ oz) melted unsalted butter, and omit the rice milk. You can also replace the macadamia oil with 80 ml (2½ fl oz/? cup) coconut oil, melted and cooled a little – this version is best eaten while still fresh.
?The Italian meringue is best used as soon as it is made. Once made, it is extremely stable. This meringue will sit atop your cake and not weep, and will still look just as good the next day.
Recipe and images from Wholefood from the Ground Up by Jude Blereau (Murdoch Books) photography by Cath Muscat RRP $39.99. You can buy the book here.
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