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Kitchen Queries

Welcome to Kitchen Queries, where the nigella.com team will answer your cooking or food related questions.  We’d love you to submit some of your recipe problems, dilemmas or queries for us to get our teeth into!

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Latest Queries

  • Birthday Cupcakes and Lemon Royal Icing

    hello, i am looking to make some fancy cupcakes for my daughter's birthday. Do you have a recipe? I would like to make different flavours of butter cream and different coloured icing too. Thank you, brighteyes30.

    I'm going to be making cupcakes for a wedding and some of them are going to be lemon flavoured. I usually use butter icing, but for this I am going to make royal icing and wondered how much lemon juice I could substitute in place of water to make the icing? I want it quite lemony, but still sweet. Thanks, jojoscot.

    From the nigella team:

    If you want to make cupcakes with various flavoured icings then we suggest that you go for a fairly plain vanilla flavoured cake base. Nigella has a vanilla cupcake recipe in Christmas (p216) which also has a royal icing which can be easily coloured using food colour - we suggest using the colour pastes rather than the liquid type as they are stronger and don't dilute the icing mixture. Domestic Goddess has a Victoria sponge cake recipe (p14-16) which would make approximately 24 cupcakes instead of a 2 layer cake (bake cupcakes for around 15 minutes until risen and firm to the touch) or see p215 for guidelines on how to make and ice 12 fairy cakes for a child's party, or use the buttercream recipe on p217 to frost the cakes instead of glace or royal icing.

    Lemon is often added to royal icing as its sharpness cuts through the sweetness of the sugar and also the lemon juice can make the icing appear whiter and brighter. If you are using a royal icing powder, or a mixture if icing (confectioners') sugar and powdered egg white (meringue powder) then you will add water. We would suggest switching 1/2 teaspoon lemon juice for water per 100g (1 cup) royal icing powder or sugar for a milder lemon flavour and 1 teaspoon lemon juice for a stronger lemon flavour. If possible hold back a little of the water and taste the mixture as you initially mix it - you can always add a little extra lemon juice if you want a sharper result and if you are happy with the icing then just add the remaining water and whisk the icing.

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