Monday, March 24, 2014

Lemon Cupcakes with Lemon Buttercream Frosting

Rarely do the stars align so I can share a recipe for birthday baking on someone's actual birthday. Happy Birthday, Rachel! We had Rachel and some other friends over this weekend and I made these lemon cupcakes when the birthday girl asked for something lemony. And boy are they. Lemon juice and zest give these cupcakes a tart, citrus tang and lemon extract in the buttercream frosting is quite literally the icing on the cake. This frosting is slightly different than I typically make thanks to a little cream in the frosting, whipped up to creamy and smooth. Yum! These cupcakes will definitely make you think spring (even if you do still have chipmunk igloos in your yard like we do).

I didn't have a go-to lemon cake recipe, so I did a little searching. It took a while since most of the recipes started with a boxed lemon-flavored cake mix, but I wanted to use real lemons this time. Luckily, I came across Sally's recipe at Sally's Baking Addiction, which was definitely a find, since she shared the awesome trick of adding heavy cream to the frosting. I subbed in light cream since that what we had and it's definitely a trick I intend to keep in my pocket. I also used a little cake enhancer to aid the texture of the cupcakes, which were perfectly tender and cake and cookie emulsion for a bakery fresh flavor. After some recent frustration with my cupcakes turning out underdone and flat, I found success using a little trick I found on Pinterest. I preheated my oven to 350 degrees F, then once the cupcakes went it, I cut the temperature back to 325 degrees F. The result was a perfectly done cupcake--set and domed on top with a gently color and soft throughout. Nothing like learning two easy tricks from one recipe to make all your cupcakes better. So whether you make this cupcakes to celebrate a birthday or just to get a tasty glimpse of spring, you will love them.

Lemon Cupcakes with Lemon Buttercream Frosting

Ingredients for cupcakes

1/2 cup butter, room temperature
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
2 teaspoons cake and cookie emulsion (or vanilla extract)
1 1/2 cups flour
2 Tablespoons cake enhancer, optional
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup milk
2 medium lemons

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter on high for one minute. Reduce speed and add sugar, then increase to medium-high speed and beat for 3 minutes, until fluffy.

Add eggs, one at a time, beating after each addition. Add emulsion or extract and beat for another 2-3 minutes until smooth. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, cake enhancer (if using), baking powder and salt.

Gradually stir in flour mixture into creamed mixture just until combined.

Add milk to mixture, along with the zest and juice from both lemons. Stir until incorporated, but take care not to over mix the batter.

Divide batter into lined cupcake pans. Note: I use an ice cream scoop.

Put pan in preheated oven and reduce heat to 325 degrees F. Bake for 25 minutes or until a tester inserted in the center comes out clean and the tops are gently set and domed. Remove from oven and let cool on pan for 5 minutes before transferring to wire rack to cool completely. Be sure they are completely cool before frosting.

Ingredients for frosting

1 cup butter, room temperature
3 cups powdered sugar
1/4 cup light cream
2 teaspoons lemon extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
sprinkles or sanding sugar for decoration

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat butter until pale and creamy, about 3-5 minutes, scraping the sides of the bowl as needed.

Reduce speed to low and gradually add powdered sugar, 1/2 cup at a time, increasing speed to high for 10-15 seconds after each addition.


Once all the powdered sugar is incorporated, add cream, extract and salt and increase speed to high. Beat for another 5 minutes until fluffy and almost doubled in volume.

Transfer frosting to a piping bag fitted with desired tip and pipe onto cooled cupcakes. Decorate with sprinkles or sanding sugar as desired.

Makes 12-15 cupcakes.

Happy Baking,
The Cookie Princess

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