Thursday, September 17, 2009

Sweet Little Thing

You know how some days you just get an intense craving for something sweet? Something homemade, something simple, something delightful. I have a lot of days like these. Lucky for you, me, and everyone I know, I don't often succumb to such feelings. However, on the rare occasion that I do break down and give in, I want it to be to something good. Something REALLY good. 
And I'm not going to lie, I find myself turning again and again to my gal, Martha Stewart. I've made a number of her recipes now and the brilliant thing is that they ALWAYS turn out. I swear, these recipes are foolproof. Martha could do a feature in 'Baking: For Dummies' if she wanted to and we'd all be left ooh-ing and ah-ing over the finished product because really, it would just be that good. And despite her slightly shady past, I encourage you to put your faith in Martha when looking for a treat to restore your faith in humanity. She won't let you down.
I generally get the urge to bake on days when the weather has taken a turn for the worse. And just last week that's exactly what happened. The sun disappeared and was promptly replaced by an intense amount of rain. On rainy days tea is my drink of choice and on this particular day I really wanted something sweet to eat along side my cup of tea. I knew that I wanted something simple, something with just the right amount of sugar, something like a tea cake. Oh tea cakes make me happy. Every time I have one, I imagine Marie Antoinette's sitting at a table that is absolutely covered with them. I have a feeling they would be something she would have liked. I mean really, you just can't help but want to have a tea party when you make tea cakes. The cupcakes themselves aren't super sweet but have a wondrously tender crumb. The delicious jammy centers are neatly hidden away and add an unexpected sweetness to the cake. And then there is the citrus-y sweet glaze that gets spooned on top of the cakes after they have cooled. Serve with a cup of tea and I bet you won't even mind that the weather is so terrible outside.

Raspberry-Jam Tea Cakes
Adapted from Cupcakes by Martha Stewart 

I ended up making this recipe using raspberry jam, which is my personal favorite, however you can make it with any kind of jam that your heart may desire. Please note that in staying true to my lactose intolerant body, I did not use any dairy in this recipe. Martha would encourage you to used butter and milk and I have no doubt it would turn out wonderfully, but I am here to tell you that the non-dairy way turns out GREAT as well!

For Tea Cakes:
1 cup Earth Balance* margarine 
3 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
 cups sugar
2 teaspoons finely grated orange zest
4 large eggs, separated, at room temperature 
½ cup almond milk**
1 cup raspberry jam

For Citrus Glaze:
1½ cups confectioners' sugar, sifted, plus more if needed
¼ teaspoon finely grated orange zest
3 tablespoons fresh orange juice, plus more if needed

To prepare the cupcakes:

Preheat oven to 350 F. Grease standard muffin tins with a non-stick spray. Whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt.

With an electric mixer on medium-high speed, cream margarine, sugar, and zest until ale and fluffy. And egg yolks, one at a time, beating until each is incorporated, scraping down sides of bowl as needed. Reduce speed to low and add flour mixture in three batches. Alternate with two additions of almond milk, and beat until just combined after each.

In another bowl, with an electric mixer on medium speed, whisk egg whites to soft peaks; gently fold into batter. Spoon 2 tablespoons batter into each prepared cup. Make an indentation in the middle of each; fill with 1 tablespoon jam. Top with an additional 2 tablespoons batter, covering jam completely.

Bake, rotating tins halfway through until a cake tester inserted in centers of top layers comes out clean, about 30 minutes. Remove from oven and run an offset spatula around the edges. Turn out cakes onto wire racks and let cook completely.

Prepare Citrus Glaze:

Whisk together all ingredients until smooth. If necessary, add more sugar to thicken or more juice to thin the glaze. You will want to use the glaze immediately.

To finish:

Drizzle cakes evenly with glaze, and let set, about 30 minutes. Glazed cupcakes can be stored up to 2 days in a single layer at room temperature in airtight containers. 

Serve with a cup of tea and a room full of friends.

Yield: Makes 16 cupcakes

*I highly, HIGHLY recommend that you use Earth Balance margarine if you are not using butter. Earth Balance is 100% all natural and does not use any hydrogenate oils or artificial ingrediants, unlike many other brands of margarine. As well, Earth Balance products are always non-GMO and free of trans fats!
**If you are not using milk, feel free to use plain soy, almond, or rice milk!

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