Feb 26, 2014

Old Fashioned Lemon Cupcakes


I found an old Calumet Baking Powder cookbook from 1931. Leafing through it, I ran across a "Palermo Lemon Cake". Wondering what, exactly, the "Palermo" referred to, I read through the recipe. No explanation. I did some research and found a bit of interesting history:

When the cookbook was published in 1931, the United States was getting its citrus fruits, especially lemons, from Palermo (Sicily) Italy. Palermo lemons were considered to be the very best lemons you could buy, and had been imported by the U.S. since 1883. I found that California was producing citrus by that time, but the amount and quality had not yet affected the import market. Florida's entire citrus industry had been wiped out by a killer freeze during the winter of 1894-1895; they would not replant until 1953. So lemons from Palermo were preferred, and if you had lemons from Palermo, you said so!



This recipe makes a smooth textured, small-crumb cake with a mild, old-fashioned flavor. It balances nicely with the sweet, brightly flavored filling and lemony frosting.



I am sharing this recipe exactly as written in The Calumet Baking Book, published in 1931:

Palermo Lemon Cake  Printable Recipe

2 cups sifted Swans Down Cake Flour
2 teaspoons Calumet Baking Powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons butter or other shortening
1 cup sugar
1 egg, unbeaten
1 teaspoon grated lemon rind (I used 2 rounded teaspoons)
3/4 cup milk

Sift flour once, measure, add baking powder and salt, and sift together three times. Cream butter thoroughly, add sugar gradually, and cream together until light and fluffy. Add egg and lemon rind and beat well. Add flour, alternately with milk, a small amount at a time. Beat after each addition until smooth. Bake in two greased 9-inch layer pans in  moderate oven (375 degrees) 25 minutes. Put layers together with Lemon Filling and frost with Palermo Lemon Frosting (this was a 7-Minute cooked frosting that I did not make).

Lemon Filling

1 cup sugar

2 and 1/2 tablespoons flour
grated rind 2 lemons (I used 3 teaspoons)
1/4 cup lemon juice
1 egg, slightly beaten
1 teaspoon butter

Combine sugar and flour. Add lemon rind, lemon juice, and egg. Cook until thick, stirring constantly. Add butter. Enough for two 9-inch layers.

Cooks' notes: This recipe makes 1 (9 inch) layer cake or 16 cupcakes. For cupcakes, spoon batter into muffin tins lined with baking cups. Fill a scant 2/3 full. Bake until just starting to turn golden, about 10 minutes. Do not overbake. When cupcakes are cool, remove a small core of cake, fill with lemon filling, then frost as desired. I used a ricotta cream cheese frosting, adding 2 teaspoons lemon zest.


 



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62 comments:

  1. Joy, ooohhhh, I LOVE this recipe!!! It's Italian, lemon and vintage - a triple win! Just gorgeous! So much fun doing the cupcake party for Jamie with you! xo

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  2. What a neat story! The cupcakes look amazing too :)

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    1. Thank you! I enjoyed the research on this one, Christin. I’m kind of a history nerd. :)

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  3. I love lemon cupcakes and made one for Jamie also... your looks amazing - pinned to my cupcake board!

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  4. Oh Yum Joy, these cupcakes look absolutely amazing!! I LOVE lemon, and the story behind them is incredible. Pinned to my Lemon Love board. :)

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  5. Dropping by from Katherine's Corner. I love classic recipes like this and especially ones that have fresh lemon. I am definitely trying these!

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  6. I'm a lover of anything made with lemons and your cupcakes look so good that I just want to crack one open and dive right into the filling!

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  7. Joy, these are just beautiful and I can only imagine how delicious they must be! I love the story behind it too. I can always count on you for a great, good old fashioned recipe:) I can't wait to try these!

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    1. Thank you, Shannon! You know I love the stories, too, and this one was fun to research. I have found that today’s tastes kind of differ from the older recipes. Today, we seem to prefer the ultra-moist (read: “oily”) cakes. The older ones aren’t really like that. Lighter and fluffier is what I think I would call this one. :)

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  8. I am going crazy looking over all of these cupcakes...and the Lemon sounds amazing. Thanks for sharing all of it on the Thursday Blog Hop!!

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  9. I really enjoyed the story behind the lemons, my sister and I do a vintage blog once a month and would love it if you would post this on next month's Vintage recipe's. Thank you so much for sharing it on Four Seasons Blog Hop. Pinning Now.

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  10. Stopping by from Great Idea Party. I'm so glad I stopped at your link because my family is from Palermo! I must give this a try. Can you give me a recipe idea for the frosting if I do a cake please? Carrie, A Mother's Shadow, www.amothersshadow.com

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    1. Carrie, I am fascinated that your family is from Palermo! How perfect is that? I will send you the original frosting recipe, if you'd like. I haven't tried it, but you would be SO authentic! :) I liked the cream cheese frosting that I used, but a basic butter cream frosting with a bit of lemon zest and/or lemon extract would probably be the prettiest and tastiest on these cupcakes. :)

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    2. Can you post the original frosting recipe...please!

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  11. Joy, these cupcakes ARE extra special - and I love the story behind the Palermo lemons!! I had no idea - and I have never even heard of them! Lemon is a favorite here - as a matter of face, my now 13 yr old just had a lemon cake for his birthday last weekend! I'm wishing I had this recipe instead! :) Thanks sooooo much for being my friend and helping me celebrate my 2nd blogiversary with these yummy cupcakes.

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  12. It is very possible I just gained 5 pounds sitting here! Thanks Joy!

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  13. Dear Joy, Your cupcakes look delightful and delicious. I would love to try these. Blessings, Catherine xo

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  14. oh these cupcakes look so tasty and refreshing

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  15. What a BEAUTIFUL Post! I absolutely Love the way you put this post together! Thank You so much for sharing it with #ThursdayTweetTreats we are honored!

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    1. Oh, Laurie, thank you so much! I had so much fun putting it together. I’m glad you liked it. And thank you for #ThursdayTweetTreats! ♥

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  16. That filling is making my mouth water. It looks simply wonderful!

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  17. These look absolutely delicious!!! :)

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  18. Thank you for hosting the cupcake party! Every picture is so tempting :)

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  19. Joy, I am loving your recipe for those beautiful old fashion lemon cupcakes. My daughter is a huge fan of lemon and would flip over this recipe. Thank you for linking up at Moonlight and Mason Jars. Pinning this recipe for future use :)

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  20. Thanks for sharing this special recipe. I enjoyed the history and the filling looks so good! Pinning! Thanks for linking up at The Four Seasons Blog Hop! Sandra from Scrumptilicious 3 You!

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  21. I just had to pin this - they look so good! And the lovely thing is that since they're old fashioned they'll only have natural ingredients. #pocolo

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  22. Hi Joy,
    I just love your Old Fashioned Lemon Cupcakes, they look so delicate and full of lemon flavor. I could spend hours going through old cook books, so much fun! Thank you so much for sharing this awesome post with Full Plate Thursday and have a great weekend!
    Come Back Soon!
    Miz Helen

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  23. Our former boss' family was from Sicily and I have heard about those lemons for years! These look amazing and I have a friend who adores lemon curd so I will be sending her this recipe. :)

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  24. They look fabulous! Another recipe I may need to adapt :) #pocolo

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  25. This look BEYOND amazing. I am a sucker for baked lemon good. I must make this ASAP. Thanks for having such an amazing blog!! xoxo

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  26. Wow, what a delicious cupcake recipe you have shared-thank you! I'm not really that great at making cupcakes but have got a recipe to share so I'll be back to link up.

    If you have a minute to spare I'd be thrilled if you could share this post at my weekly Say G'Day Saturday party. It will be a great addition!

    Best wishes,
    Natasha in Oz

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    1. I will be there- thank you for the invitation, Natasha! :)

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  27. What a great idea, I love the fact that this is a vintage recipe. I just made a giant cupcake for my birthday does that count? Popping over from #pocolo

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    1. Hahaha! YES- giant cupcakes count double!! ;) Thank you for visiting from #PoCoLo!

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  28. Oh my...these look divine! Following from Sunday Social! Blessings!

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  29. Lemon is one of my favorite flavors in the winter. My used to tell me how special it was to get citrus fruit as a kid... it was so rare a treat in the Northeast. Thanks so much for sharing these on foodie friday.

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  30. That lemon filling looks great! Lemons are one of my favorite ingredients, and I really like the idea of using this to make a cake.

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  31. Lovely cupcakes and story. Thanks Joy, have a wonderful day!

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  32. Oh you sure do know how to make a gal swoon, Joy! I love a good lemon treat and this classic recipe is perfect! Pinning and featuring on social media. Thanks for sharing at Marvelous Mondays. Have a lovely week!

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  33. Hi Joy,
    Great seeing you and ALL those awesome cupcakes today at Sweet Tea Social, to bad we had to be out in the freezing rain and snow, I dream of sipping that sweet tea on the back porch in the rocker. Have a fantastic week and thanks for sharing.
    Miz Helen

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  34. These look sooooo good! And you made them look so pretty! Thank you for sharing them. Pinned to all the party boards! :)

    Marti
    ps...we got about 2-3 inches of ice today!!

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  35. Thank you for sharing this yumminess at the Thursday Favorite Things Blog Hop. I featured you on my blog today ♥

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  36. These are SO beautiful Joy - and lemon is one of my favourite flavours :) Well done, great job. Thank you for linking to PoCoLo x

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  37. Your cupcakes looks wonderful Joy! I look forward every week to see what you've made. Have a great week!

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  38. Those look wonderful. I love lemon dessert anything too. Just wish my husband liked lemon as much as I do. Thanks for sharing at Bacon Time.

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  39. Your cupcakes are beautiful, Joy, and I loved learning about the history of the recipe. Thank you of sharing them with us at the Hearth and Soul hop.

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  40. Lemon is one of my favorites too. I pinned this to my Lemon board. It truly looks wonderful! Thanks for linking up Wonderful Wednesday Blog Hop.

    Blessings,
    Diane Roark

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  41. I LOVE lemon! Yum! Thank you for linking up at Tasty Tuesdays! Your post has been pinned to my Recipes from Tasty Tuesday board. I can't wait to see what you link up next week!
    Have a terrific weekend!
    Cathy
    APeekIntoMyParadise.com
    #TastyTuesdays

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  42. I love lemon flavored anything - these look amazing! and that filling... Thanks so much for linking up to the Friday Frenzy - Hope to see you this week!

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  43. These cupcakes are absolutely beautiful!

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  44. I have a passion for old recipes as well. Recipes were so simple but you get such great flavors when you cook it from scratch, the bought versions just can't compare. Hello from the Hearth and Soul Hop.

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  45. Lemon cupcake looks amazing, can't wait to try it! Then Wow! I am going to be busy a while reading and taste testing these other zillion cup cakes! :)

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  46. Thank you for linking, Joy. These cupcakes look so light and perfect for Spring...which I hope comes soon!

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  47. These look so light and fluffy, I love the filling oozing out of the centre! These are the most viewed recipe on Sweet and Savoury Sundays. Stop by tomorrow to grab and button and link up again!

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  48. Oh my goodness! These look amazing, Joy! I love lemon cupcakes! Congrats at being the most viewed! You're on a roll! ;)

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  49. Stopping by to thank you for sharing at Share it One More Time at One More Time events and let you know you have been featured …Hope to see you again at this weeks Party! Tammy

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  50. Yum, these look good! My late Mom had an old Fanny Farmer cookbook that I now have- I'll have to breeze through that and come up with good old-fashioned recipes!

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    1. Fran, I read old cook books like most people read novels. :) I love (re)discovering the old recipes. Hope you have fun and come across some delicious ones! Thank you for coming by!

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