I love Spring! We thaw out from the grip of Old Man Winter and enter a season of rebirth. Everything is bright, clean and new! The grass is green, flowers bloom and the bees and butterflies return to the gardens. I mean, Spring marks the beginning of outdoor entertaining! And what flavors bring brightness to foods? Citrus! Lemons, limes and oranges! See the connection?
I love cooking and baking with lemons and these cupcakes brighten any table. While chocolate and vanilla are the traditional go to favorite flavors, lemon brings a citrus bright flavor that immediately makes it stand out above the rest. This is an easy lemon cupcake that tastes like pure sunshine!
Make sure the butter and eggs are at room temperature. Using a stand alone mixer or hand held mixer, cream the butter first. Add the granulated sugar and cream for 2-3 minutes over medium speed. Make sure to scrape down the sides so it mixes well. Add eggs (one at a time) and vanilla extract and mix for an additional 2-3 minutes until well blended. Set aside.
In a separate mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt. Tip: By whisking the dry ingredients you ensure they are evenly distributed and they will mix well when you add them to the creamed mixture.
Tip: Zest the lemon before juicing it. I like to zest holding the microplane upside down so I can see the zest as I remove it. I don’t want to zest the pith (the white part) of the lemon. That would add a bitter flavor to the cupcake.
Set the mixer to low speed and add the dry ingredients in three parts to the creamed mixture, alternating with half the milk in between. So you start and finish with dry ingredients. Scrape the sides often to ensure you’re blending all the ingredients evenly. When done mixing, add the lemon zest and juice just to combine. It’s important you don’t over mix your batter.
I use a 2-inch wide ice cream scoop for my cupcakes. It’s the perfect amount of batter and this will ensure my cupcakes bake evenly. Cool them on a wire rack and when completely cooled, frost with a delicious Vanilla Buttercream Frosting. Garnish with sprinkles and or lemon wedges.
Tip: When using lemon wedges, dry them out on a paper towel so the acid of the lemon doesn’t break up the frosting. If you garnish with lemon zest, do so prior to serving and use it sparingly. The zest flavor may be overwhelming for some, especially small children.
I recently made about 60 of these cupcakes for a Panda themed black and white birthday party for a one-year old cutie pie! I displayed them on a circular cupcake stand I have owned for years and refilled them as people ate them. The lemon cupcakes were a hit and gave guests flavor options. The Panda birthday cake was chocolate and vanilla.
Personal Note: While you can make them a day ahead, and even freeze cupcakes, I believe they are the freshest when baked the same day. I mean, you don’t go to a bakery and ask for day old cupcakes, right? If you can’t make them same day, then make them the day before. Allow them to cool and store them in an air tight container. You can leave them at room temperature (provided your AC is working) or place in the refrigerator. Making the frosting ahead of time is a great time saver. Just make sure you beat it for a few minutes prior to using.
Lemony Spring Cupcakes
This light and lemony flavored cupcake is a perfect sweet bite.
- 2 sticks butter, unsalted and at room temperature
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 2 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
- 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 cup whole milk
- 2 lemons zest & juice of two lemons
- Vanilla Buttercream Frosting
- garnish sprinkle and or lemon wedges
Preheat oven to 350° and line a 12 count muffin/cupcake pan with paper/foil liners.
Cream the butter and granulated sugar using a stand mixer with a paddle attachment or a hand held mixer for 2-3 minutes. Make sure you scrape down the sides of the bowl.
Add eggs (one at a time) and vanilla extract. Scrape down the sides of the bowl to ensure you mix all ingredients. Mix for 2-3 minutes on medium speed.
In a separate bowl, mix together the dry ingredients – all-purpose flour, baking powder and salt. Whisk together to evenly distribute the dry ingredients.
With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the dry ingredients to the creamed butter mixture in three parts, alternating with the milk and finishing with dry. Mixing only to combine and scraping the sides as you go. Lastly, add the zest and lemon juice just to combine. Do not over mix batter.
Using a 2-inch wide ice cream scoop, drop one scoop in each of the liners. Bake for 20-22 minutes.
Since each oven varies slightly, test by inserting a tooth in the center of a cupcake. If it comes out clean, it’s done. If it comes out with batter, give it another minute or two. I baked for 20 minutes in my oven.
Cool completely on a wire rack. Frost and garnish as desired.
I recently make about 50 of these cupcakes for a baby’s first birthday party.