For the cupcakes:
- Pre-heat the oven to 170 C fan.
- Make sure all ingredients are at room temperature and then cream together the butter and sugar until it is really pale and fluffy, not just mixed together.
- Then, add the eggs one a time, ensuring the first one is incorporated before adding the next.
- Add the vanilla essence, lemon zest and juice, and the sift in the flour and mix until just incorporated.
- With the raspberries, you can either fold them in gently to keep them whole, or mix them in more thoroughly to have smaller pieces evenly distributed. I went for the latter and it turns the cupcakes a lovely pink colour!
- Divide the batter between 12 cupcake cases, and bake for around 20 minutes or until golden brown.
- Remove from the oven and leave them to cool for 10 minutes before removing them from the tin and letting them cool fully before decorating.
For the swiss meringue buttercream:
- Carefully separate the egg whites into a very clean bowl (you must not have even the smallest amount of egg yolk or grease in the egg whites or it will not work, so I always crack them into a separate bowl first before adding to the main bowl I am using so that I don't end up ruining 4 egg whites and have to start again!)
- Add the caster sugar and whisk to combine.
- Place the bowl you are using (I usually use my standing mixer bowl so I can then just attach it straight to my mixer) over a pan of simmering water, careful not to let the water touch the bottom of the bowl.
- Continuously stir the eggs and sugar (we don't want scrambled eggs!) until the sugar is fully dissolved and the mixture no longer has a grainy texture. The best way to test this is to very carefully place you (clean) hands into the bowl and gently rub your thumb and forefingers together to feel. Once it feels smooth, it is ready. It is also a good idea to ensure the eggs reach 71C/160F to ensure they are pasteurised - use a sugar thermometer for this.
- Immediately transfer the eggs and sugar to a mixer and with the balloon whisk attachment, whisk on a medium to high speed until it comes to stiff peaks and cools to room temperature.
- Use a spatula every now and again to scrape down the bowl and ensure that it is all being evenly whisked.
- If possible, switch to a paddle beater (this beats less air into it so the buttercream is smoother with fewer air bubbles).
- Slowly add the softened butter a cube at a time, mixing on a lower speed until it is all combined.
- Add a pinch of salt and vanilla essence
- Keep mixing - it can seem at this stage as if it's not going to come together, but it will!
- Once the buttercream is smooth add food colouring if desired.
- If it seems a bit 'soupy' this could be because the mixture wasn't cold enough before you added the butter, or the butter was too warm, so leave it in the fridge for 15-20 minutes and try mixing it again.
- Transfer to a piping bag with a nozzle and decorate the cupcakes!
Head to my Instagram @alice.fevronia for a video on how to make this swiss meringue buttercream. If you give this recipe a go, please tag me as I would love to see!