The basic ingredients for a high ratio cake include flour, sugar, butter (fat), eggs, a liquid, and baking powder. Most of the time, I use milk as my liquid. A couple of times I’ve used some of the liquid that comes with maraschino cherries. One day I had a lemon, and wondered how lemony it would be if I used lemon juice as my liquid.
Well, I am calling these cupcakes Knock You Over the Head with Lemon for a reason!
And maybe my husband should buy fewer lemons. I can’t help it; I have a bad habit of walking into the kitchen on Mondays and wondering what we have that I can bake with. Actually, I’m not even sure why I wanted to try using lemon juice, but it was an interesting experiment. I guess that’s what happens when you ratio bake instead of use a recipe.
Do keep in mind that this is a ratio recipe, a kind of hybrid between being a ratio and being a recipe, if that makes any sense. The thing I love about ratio baking is that I can take however many eggs I want to use and use their weight to weigh out the amounts for the rest of the ingredients. Most of the time I use two eggs, but the beauty of this is that you can use six eggs, follow the ratio, and still get the same cake, albeit much more cake. I wouldn’t recommend using six eggs unless you want a lot of cake. Imagine, if using two eggs results in a nice two layer 8-inch cake, then using six eggs would probably yield about three times as much cake. I hope you enjoy cake, or are throwing a party.
But the best part is you have the freedom to use whatever kind of flour, sugar, fat, and eggs you want! It can be healthy, made for those with dietary restrictions, or just be sinfully decadent.
The Long Instructions
Step 1: Turn on oven and preheat to 350 degrees.
Step 2: Prepare muffin tins by lining them with cupcake liners or simply grease liberally. You can also use cake tins, but, since this is a ratio recipe, I can’t tell you what size to use. You’ll simply have to look at your batter and use your best judgment.
Step 3: Take out the eggs and zero out your kitchen scale with a cup or bowl on top. Crack the eggs into the vessel and check the final weight. I can tell you from much repetition that 2 large eggs weighs about the same as half a cup of butter (1 stick). One large egg weighs somewhere around 50g, usually between 47 and 52g. Don’t have large eggs? No problem! Just use what you have and weigh them. DO remember this number. You’ll need it later.
Step 4: Weigh your butter (or whatever fat you’d like to use. I just always use butter.). The butter and eggs should weigh approximately the same. So, if you have 2 eggs that weigh about 104, a stick of butter weighing about 113 is fine. If you want to be more exact, or need a different weight since you’re using fewer or more eggs, it’s easy to cut the butter so it weighs about the same as the eggs.
Step 5: Weigh the sugar and flour. If you’re good at math, I’m insanely jealous. If you’re like me and numbers are your arch enemy, use a calculator. Now, remember the weight of your eggs? Double it. If your eggs weigh 100g, double it to 200g. That’s how much your sugar and flour should weigh, separately. Don’t combine them. Measure them separately. It doesn’t have to be exact. A little under or a little over is fine. I think the rule of thumb is within 20%. Again, I can’t do math, so…
Step 6: Zest 1 whole lemon.
Step 7: Weigh the liquid. Thought you were done with the egg weight? Nope. Your liquid should weigh the same as your eggs. The ratio for a high ratio cake holds that the eggs plus the liquid should equal the sugar. Hence, the eggs and liquid should weigh about the same. Since this is a super lemony cake, first zest your lemon and then squeeze the juice out. For my cupcakes, I just needed one lemon, but lemons vary in the amount of juice they have, and it also depends on how many eggs you’ve used, so you might need more lemons or less juice. Just make sure you’ve zested it first. Want something a little less lemony? You can use more than one liquid. Just make sure the total weight of the liquid is about equal to the eggs.
Now onto the mixing!
Step 8: Make sure your eggs and butter are at room temperature, especially the butter. It’ll mix much better that way. First, cream the butter and sugar. Make sure they become light yellow and fluffy, and ensure the butter is mixed well. You don’t want clumps of butter.
Step 9: Add the eggs, vanilla extract (a splash), and the lemon zest. Mix well. You can add the eggs one at a time or all at once. I’ve done both and honestly couldn’t tell the difference.
Step 10: Add about 2 tsp of baking powder to the flour. This is where I can’t actually help you much if you use more than two eggs. I haven’t dared make more cake than that as I’m the only one who would eat it, but the recommended ratio is 1 tsp of baking powder per cup of flour.
Step 11: Add the flour and lemon juice alternately, mixing well after each addition.
Step 12: Pour into the muffin tin, or cake tin.
Step 13: Bake for about 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean. If you’re making a cake and don’t want a domed top, lightly drop the tin onto the counter a few times and then give it a good spin. I haven’t experienced a totally flat top, but it is a very decently flat top.
Step 14: Frost with your choice of frostings. I used a stabilized whipped cream as that’s what I had on hand, but you can use whatever you like best. I just don’t recommend a lemon frosting.
And, remember, I call these Knock You Over the Head with Lemon Cupcakes for a reason. I’m very glad I chose to make cupcakes. It was kind of like eating a sweetened lemon.
And now for the simple directions.
- butter (fat)
- vanilla extract
- baking powder
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Prepare muffin tins with liners or grease liberally.
- Weigh the eggs and butter so they weigh the same. Double the weight of the eggs and weigh the sugar to that number. Weigh the flour to the same number as the sugar, but it’s completely fine for the weight of the flour to be a little below the weight of the sugar. Add the baking powder (2 tsp for 2 eggs, otherwise 1 tsp per cup of flour) to the flour.
- Zest one lemon. Squeeze your lemon(s) so the juice weighs the same as the eggs.
- Cream butter and sugar.
- Add the eggs, a splash of vanilla extract, and lemon zest.
- Add the flour and lemon juice alternately.
- Pour into muffin tin.
- Bake for 20 minutes or until toothpick inserted comes out clean.
- Frost and enjoy! But remember they can be really lemony.