While I haven’t been blogging much lately, I have been reading a lot of self-help and business books. I can’t guarantee it will make me a better blogger, but it’s definitely helping me be a better coach.
I’ve been thinking a lot about perfectionism lately. One of the ways it serves me is by pushing me to improve and grow, but “analysis paralysis” and procrastination are the flip side of that coin.
This is approximately the fifth version of this post that I’ve written. In between versions two and three, I watched Brene Brown’s TED talk about vulnerability and wholeheartedness.
What do vulnerability and perfectionism have to do with these cupcakes?
These cupcakes aren’t perfect.
Or are they?
They’re perfect for
… an afternoon spent with friends playing lawn games and breaking in your new grill.
… introducing disparate groups of friends who can bond over the shared experience of a few sugary bites.
… reminding you that no one cares that your kitchen isn’t clean when they arrive for your housewarming party and you’re still frosting cupcakes.
Maybe they’re a perfect lesson in letting go of expectations and outcomes. Or not. They don’t have to be perfect, they’re enough just as they are, in that moment. As are you.
To quote the aforementioned TED talk, “You’re imperfect, and you’re wired for struggle, but you are worthy of love and belonging.” You’re also worthy of a cupcake.
These cupcakes balance fluffy and dense, tart and sweet. The lemon adds brightness while the almond adds depth; both add deliciousness.
So go make cupcakes. Don’t worry about it when you run out of muffin cups — just grease and flour the pan (trust me, it works out). No lemons? Toss in lemon extract, or orange zest and Grand Marnier. Don’t apologize for it.
Then share your cupcakes with people you love (or at least people you like) and savor the perfection of that imperfect moment, right where you are, knowing that you are enough.
Easy Lemon Almond Cupcakes
My trick for frosting: plastic sandwich bags. Flip the zip top over to avoid messy frosting smears. Fill the bag with frosting. Zip it, gently squeezing out the air. Bounce it a few times to settle any air pockets. Snip the corner with a pair of scissors. Squeeze from the top with gentle, even pressure and swirl away. Toss the bag at the end.
For the cake:
- 1 cup | 120 grams all-purpose flour
- 2/3 cup | 150g granulated sugar
- 1½ teaspoons of baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- zest of 1/2 lemon
- 3 tablespoons | 40g of unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1/2 cup (4 ounces) | 120 ml milk (I used almond)
- 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
- 1 large egg
For the frosting:
- 1 cup | 250g powdered sugar
- 6 tablespoons | 80g unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- zest and juice of half a lemon, divided (or 1/2 teaspoon lemon extract)
- 1/4 teaspoon almond extract
- 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 tablespoon milk
For the cupcakes:
- Preheat the oven to 325F. Line 12 muffin tins with paper liners, or grease and flour them in a panic if you’re out of liners.
- Whisk together the dry ingredients. Use a stand or hand mixer to mix in the butter until the mixture looks like coarse sand.
- Whisk together milk, almond extract, and egg. Pour into the sandy mixture and stir slowly until incorporated.
- Use a 1/4 cup measure to scoop the batter evenly into the muffin tins.
- Bake at 325F for 22-25 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove from pan and cool on a wire rack
For the frosting:
- Sift powdered sugar into a mixing bowl. Cream together with the butter, salt, and lemon zest.
- When well-combined, add extracts and drizzle in half the milk. Beat on high speed until fluffy, adding more liquid until desired consistency is reached. The frosting should lighten in color and increase in volume.
- Wait until cupcakes are completely cooled to frost them. See headnotes for frosting tips.