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Bridal Shower Tea with Lemonade Cupcakes

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When I was young, almost everything we made at our house was from scratch. We would raise most of the food we ate and it seemed as though the trips to the grocery store were only about once every other week at the most. It taught my sister and me to cook, which comes naturally to us, and it has molded us into the women we are today. Because of this we can put a meal together with just bits of this and that and have dinner on the table with little effort. 

We look back over those times and laugh at the mistakes we made and are happy for the lessons we have learned when it comes to cooking. One day we were surprised when our mom came home from the store with a chocolate cake mix and a box of instant pudding. That was an unusual thing to find in the brown paper bag from the grocery store. The look on my sister’s and my face would probably translate to something like “What is she thinking?” She had found a recipe in a magazine; when we put it together it was a wonderfully moist chocolate cake. Back then, there was no Internet, just the loose-leaf binder that held all the family secrets along with tons of pages torn out of magazines, probably from the doctor’s or dentist’s office. This new family treasure was baked in a 9 x 13 pan and frosted with a dusting of powdered sugar, and we used it for most of the birthdays that we celebrated that year. It saved time in the kitchen when it came to desserts or that quick potluck dish for a mothers’ club meeting. When I married and started a family of my own, I started to experiment with this cake. I changed up the flavors and the pan that I used and I came up with a new family favorite cake. Yes, not everything that I make is totally from scratch, but sometimes making life a bit easier on yourself is a gift.

My favorite version of this cake is my Lemonade Cake. I have baked this cake in a Bundt pan and placed it on a decorative cake plate, using it as the table centerpiece with fresh flowers around the base of the cake plate. Since it’s lemon, you can get creative with all kinds of different fruits to garnish it. I use strawberries, blackberries, blueberries or raspberries. This cake has a fabulous lemon flavor with a cream cheese frosting that pairs with berries, making a beautiful dessert. 

Today we will be making cupcakes from this cake, frosting it with a smooth cream cheese frosting and topping it with raspberries, lemon slices and fresh mint leaves. My friend’s daughter will be so surprised when she sees what we are doing for her. The cupcakes will be placed in British porcelain tea cups with a linen napkin encircled with a gold napkin ring that represents a wedding ring. There’s so much you can do with this recipe for a bridal shower or even a baby shower. They have invited their guests to a bridal shower tea and will be serving finger sandwiches, a small salad and a dessert with fresh tea. The dessert will be placed in a beautiful tea cup for each guest to take home as a reminder of this great occasion. With all the excitement of weddings it’s always a pleasure for me to help celebrate by sharing my love of cooking. Let’s get started.

LEMON CAKE

Cake
1 15.25-oz. box lemon cake mix
1 3.9-oz. package instant lemon pudding mix
1 cup sour cream
1 cup vegetable oil
4 large eggs, slightly beaten
½ cup water 

Glaze
6-8 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 cup powdered sugar

Frosting
8 oz. cream cheese, room temperature
3 tablespoons butter, softened
4 cups powdered sugar
4 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (a bit more if you need it thinner)
Fresh fruit for decoration

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Prepare cupcake pan using selected cupcake papers and set aside. In a large mixing bowl, stir together the cake mix and the pudding mix. Add the sour cream, oil, eggs and water. Stir until combined and no mix is left in the bottom of the bowl. Pour into cupcake pan, filling each cup halfway and bake for 15-17 minutes or until the toothpick comes clean. After you remove the cupcakes from the oven, using a fork, pierce the tops of each cupcake about 3 pokes to form small holes for the glaze to soak into the cupcake. Spoon glaze over each cupcake slowly by drizzling the glaze over them with a spoon. You want the glaze to soak in but not too much or the cupcake will become soggy. Let the cupcakes cool before removing them from the pan.

While the cupcakes are cooling, make the frosting. In a mixer, beat cream cheese and butter until they become fluffy. Slowly add the powdered sugar. Add the lemon juice and beat well. If you like the consistency, you can frost your cupcakes or cake. If you would like it thinner, add a little more lemon juice until you get the thickness you want. I like it on the thicker side for frosting cupcakes. Using a tip and frosting bag, create the frosting look you want for each cupcake. Store in a cool place until you are ready to use. Just before serving, add fresh fruit and mint to the icing.

Now all we have to do is set the table, add the cupcakes to the tea cups, pour hot water into our tea pitcher and celebrate.

It doesn’t matter if it’s for family or friends; this enjoyable treat will warm their hearts. This easy Lemonade Cupcake drizzled with lemon glaze and cream cheese frosting is a fantastic, almost-from-scratch gift of its own, from my house and recipe box to yours. Enjoy! ■