Light, lemony and totally luscious, these lemon cupcakes really are perfect.
They have a delightfully tender crumb and while the cupcakes themselves aren’t overpowering in their lemon flavor, the light hint of zest in the batter is complimented by the outrageously tangy and sweet lemon frosting. With just a light sprinkle of fresh lemon zest on top of the cupcake, you have a terribly wonderful lemon cupcake.
And there really is nothing wrong with a cupcake being terribly wonderful, trust me.
These cute little cupcakes domed so perfectly that I opted for a simple swath of frosting across the top instead of a fancier presentation. The light jumble of zest on top of the cupcake is decoration enough, I think.
In hindsight, I should have called these a “Farewell to Green Bay” cupcake (we just moved to Minnesota from there) since my cupcake liners are unintentionally screaming Green Bay Packers (sorry if you have no idea what I’m talking about – you obviously don’t live within a 300-mile radius of Green Bay).
Packer colors or not, the cupcake inside the liner is worth the making. Promise!
Perfect Lemon Cupcakes
- 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened
- 3/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 large egg
- 1 egg yolk
- 1 cup sour cream
- 2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest/peel (from about 2 lemons)
- 3 tablespoons butter, softened
- 2 cups powdered sugar
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice (use the lemons you zested for the cupcakes)
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Milk, as needed
- 1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest/peel
- Freshly grated lemon zest for garnish, if desired
- Preheat the oven to 350 degree F. Line about 15 muffin cups with paper liners and set aside.
- In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt; set aside.
- In a large bowl, beat the butter with an electric mixer on medium speed for 30 seconds. Add the granulated sugar and vanilla; beat until well mixed. Add the egg and egg yolk and mix well. Add the 1/3 of the flour mixture and mix. Add 1/2 of the sour cream and mix again. Add another 1/3 of the flour mixture, stirring until combined. Add the final 1/2 cup of the sour cream and after mixing, add the final 1/3 of the flour. Mix just until combined. Stir in the 2 teaspoons lemon zest. The batter will have a thick consistency.
- Spoon about 1/4 cup of the batter into each prepared muffin cup filling between 1/2 and 2/3 full. Bake the cupcakes for 16-18 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool completely on a wire rack before frosting.
- For the frosting, in a medium bowl, beat the butter, powdered sugar and lemon juice together until light and fluffy, about 1-2 minutes with an electric mixer (stand mixer or handheld). Mix in the vanilla and add 1-2 teaspoons of milk to adjust the consistency, if necessary. It should be creamy and spreadable. Stir in the 1 teaspoon lemon zest. Dollop a tablespoon or two of the frosting on each cupcake and spread until smooth. Top with a few sprinkles of fresh lemon zest, if desired.
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Recipe Source: adapted from a recipe sent to me by a reader, Lien, originally from Diana’s Desserts