Memories of Lemon: Homemade Citrus-Scented Twinkies

Most of us who grew up in the United States have memories of eating Twinkies, those cream-filled cylindrical sponge cakes made by Hostess. 

In the run-up to The Memory of Lemon (June 14, 2016), I'm counting down with my favorite citrus-flavored recipes.  

And a repeat of my offer: If you pre-order The Memory of Lemon from your favorite bookseller or purchase The Cake Therapist or Bake Happy, let me know and I'll send you a colorful, downloadable booklet of the best lemony recipes.

Contact me at : and I'll send it to you as a lemony thank-you!

Back to Twinkies.

Recently David Leite of Leite's Culinaria featured a post on Homemade Hostess Cupcakes Recipe by Jennifer Steinhauer, and they look fabulous. Wouldn't it be fun to get with a friend and make both Hostess Cupcakes and Twinkies for a gathering?

People were in a panic when Hostess Twinkies suddenly disappeared from grocery store shelves in 2013. Twinkies debuted in 1930 with a banana cream filling that was switched to vanilla after World War II. I loved Twinkies as a kid, but as an adult, I want more flavor and better ingredients. I came across Alison Okabayashi of Pretty Please Bakeshop in San Francisco who creates her own versions, which she calls “Twinks,” in upscale flavors of red velvet, pumpkin, and raspberry. They’re part of her “Nostalgics” line that also includes Ding Dongs and Whoopie Pies. 

Inspired by Allison’s creations, these Homemade Twinkies deliver on flavor with an orange glaze, a tender citrus-scented chiffon cake, and a fluffy filling. I had one wrapped up to give to a friend, but during a bad patch of winter weather, I forgot it in the back seat of my car for a week. When I unwrapped it and took a bite, just to see, it was still moist and delicious in true—but preservative-free—Twinkie style. 

To make these nostalgic treats, you’ll need a canoe or Twinkie pan, which you can find at craft stores, cake supply shops, or online.

Make the syrup first, up to a week ahead, and then bake up those Homemade Twinkies!
Orange-Cardamom Syrup
Homemade Syrups from Bake Happy: Orange-Cardamom is on the bottom right.

Drizzled over Citrus-Glazed Sweet Potato Pound Cake or fresh cut citrus fruit, this heady syrup dazzles.
Makes about 1 cup (250 ml)
1 cup (200 g) granulated or raw sugar
Zest and juice of 1 orange
1/2 cup (125 ml) water
1 teaspoon cardamom seeds or 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
In a large, microwave-safe glass measuring cup, combine the sugar, orange zest and juice, water, and cardamom. Microwave on high until the sugar dissolves, about 3 to 4 minutes. Let the mixture steep for 20 to 30 minutes at room temperature, then strain it through a fine-mesh sieve into a medium bowl; discard the solids. Let the syrup cool and use it right away or store it in a covered glass jar in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.Let the mixture steep for 20 to 30 minutes. Then strain the mixture into a bowl and let cool.  Use right away or store in a covered glass jar in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.

So Happy Together
Orange + Cardamom
Cardamom, a member of the ginger family, is native to Pakistan, Bhutan, Nepal, and India. Cardamom and cinnamon star together in traditional Swedish bakingWhen paired with orange, but thethis aromatic green cardamom spice takes on makes bright-flavored orange taste slightly mysterious and edgy characteristics.

Homemade Twinkies  from Bake Happy
Makes 18 Twinkies
Baking spray, for the pan
Twinkie Chiffon Cake:
4 large egg whites
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons (108 g) cake flour
3/4 cup (155 g) granulated sugar
11/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon fine salt
1/3 cup (75 ml) cold water
1/4 cup (59 ml) vegetable oil
11/2 teaspoons freshly grated lemon zest
Juice of 1 lemon
3 large egg yolks
Marshmallow Filling:
6 tablespoons (90 g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup (120 g) confectioners’ sugar, sifted
21/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon fine salt
1 (7-ounce/198-g) jar marshmallow creme
1 recipe Orange-Cardamom Syrup (above), prepared
Preheat the oven to 325°F (160°C). Spray the inside of a canoe or Twinkie pan with baking spray and set it aside.
For the Twinkie Chiffon Cake, in the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the egg whites with the cream of tartar almost until stiff peaks form—the peak should just turn over as you remove the beaters, about 6 minutes; set the bowl aside. In another large bowl, sift together the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt; set the bowl aside. In a separate small bowl, stir together the cold water, oil, lemon zest and juice, and egg yolks, and stir this mixture into the dry ingredients to make a smooth batter.
Pour the batter over the beaten egg whites, one-third at a time, folding the batter into the egg whites with a rubber spatula, using a figure-8 pattern and scooping up from the bottom of the bowl until the batter is evenly colored. Fill each cylindrical depression in the canoe pan half full with batter.

Bake until the tops of the cakes spring back when lightly touched and are a golden color, about 15 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven and turn the cakes out onto a cooling rack. Re-spray the canoe pan and repeat the process with the remaining batter. Let the Twinks cool completely after baking.
For the Marshmallow Filling, in the bowl of a food processor or electric mixer, combine the butter, confectioners’ sugar, vanilla, salt, and marshmallow creme and process or beat the mixture until smooth.

To assemble the Twinkies, cut each Twinkie almost in half lengthwise, like you would a hot dog bun. Spread about 1 to 2 tablespoons of filling on the bottom half and sandwich the top and bottom halves together. Place each filled Twinkie on a sheet of aluminum foil or parchment paper for easier cleanup. Brush each with the glaze and let sit for 30 minutes to dry. Serve the Twinkies right away or store them in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 week.