Lemon Cupcakes

CATEGORIES: Cakes and Cupcakes, Kate

So while we were in Seattle, we went to the wedding of my husband’s younger brother. My mother-in-law and sister-in-law did all the flowers and they were absolutely gorgeous. See?

Now…at the wedding reception, the limes and lemons in the tall vases were fun and whimsical and colorful, but after the bride and groom drove away, those of us who WEREN’T going on a fun, relaxing honeymoon had to figure out what to do with literally hundreds of limes and lemons. My mother-in-law tried VERY hard to get me to throw some into my suitcase, which I adamantly refused to do because a) I didn’t want unsweetened lemonade all over my clothes when we got home and b) now that the airlines so graciously allow us to pay for checked baggage, I figured I could buy my own dang lemons for another $25. Well, being the mother of seven boys that she is, she was not about to let me go home citrus-free, which led to quite a bit of back-and-forth banter. Finally, I remembered that I had this recipe scheduled for today and told her I would take home a carry-on bag full of lemons and limes, which she was delighted to hear. I was half-expecting someone in security to ask, “Hey, lady, what’s with all the citrus?”, but then I realized that a bag full of limes and lemons was probably not even close to the strangest thing they’d ever seen.ANYWAY. Enough story time. Now…I have a little confession to make. I’m not super crazy about cake. I like it okay, and if I’m at a party, I’m not going to say no. But if it’s nothing special, then I’d just rather have a piece of pie or a tart or a pastry or something like that.

Well, I stumbled across this recipe in a dark, dusty corner of Martha Stewart’s website last year when I was getting ready for my daughter’s first birthday. I wasn’t looking for a lemon cake, and I wasn’t looking for a recipe that was so incredibly poorly constructed and hard-to-follow (seriously, whoever edited that recipe should be fired, or at least flogged aa little), but it sounded delish and I was after the flower cake tutorial.

Well…once I figured out what in the WORLD was going on (the baking time for a 9×13 cake is incredibly off, for starters), it ended up being quite possibly the most delicious cake I’d ever eaten in my entire life. Somehow, it’s a little dense (kind of like pound cake) and yet incredibly light and airy at the same time. I used the lemon buttercream recipe from my Southern Living cookbook and seriously…there are no words.

Since it calls for 3 sticks of butter and 5 eggs in the cake alone, I don’t make it too much, but I figured this time around, I’d give cupcakes a whirl. I think they were even better–the cake can almost be too much, but the cupcakes are perfectly portioned snippets of lemony goodness. And they’re so rich that I only need too eat one and then I’m done, which, when I have a million of these suckers lying around, is definitely a good thing.

Lemon Cupcakes
Our Best Bites


1 1/2 c. (3 sticks) of REAL butter
3 c. cake flour (no substitutions here–you really need the lightness of cake flour)
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. baking soda
2 c. sugar
5 large eggs
2 tsp. vanilla extract
4 Tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice
Zest of 2 lemons (just zest the other lemons before you squeeze them)
1 c. buttermilk

Preheat oven to 325. Line 2 12-cup muffin tins with cupcake liners (I used yellow, although white would also be cute).

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter and sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, 4-5 minutes. Don’t go skimping here–you want the mixture to be almost white and super fluffy. This is absolutely essential to the outcome of the cake.

While butter and sugar are mixing, sift together flour, baking powder, salt, and baking soda in a medium bowl. Set aside. After butter and sugar have mixed sufficiently, With the mixer running, add eggs, one at a time, beating to incorporate after each addition. Beat in vanilla, lemon juice, and lemon zest.

With mixer on low speed, alternate adding flour mixture and buttermilk, beginning and ending with the flour mixture and beating until fully incorporated.

Using a standard cookie scoop, place about 2 scoops of batter into each muffin cup. Fill these almost to the top–due to the final texture (again, think super-moist and light pound cake), these cupcakes won’t have a nice, curvy crown, but that’s okay–no one will ever know or care.

Bake about 20-25 minutes or just until a toothpick inserted into the center of one of the cupcakes comes out clean. You don’t want to overbake these even a bit, or they’ll start to lose their delicious moisture. Remove from oven and cool completely. Frost with lemon buttercream and garnish with strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, or fresh mint leaves.

Lemon Buttercream

1 1/4 c. butter (2 1/2 sticks)
2 tsp. grated lemon rind
3 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
3 c. powdered sugar

Beat butter, lemon rind, and lemon juice in an electric mixer until creamy. Gradually add powdered sugar, beating to spreading consistency. Makes 2 3/4 c.

Have we got you in the mood for lemons?
Fresh Squeezed Lemonade
Garlic-Herb Sandwich Spread
Lemon Zucchini Fettuccine
Strawberry-Lemon Face Mask


  1. Yum! Do they sell cake flour at regular grocery stores, or only specialty stores? I have never even looked for it before.

  2. Cookie Girl, my son won't touch these because he thinks they're "too sour," if that helps… 🙂 They aren't as tart as say, lemon curd, but it definitely has a little zing! 🙂

  3. So pretty and I'm certain yummy! Wish I could have taken some of those lemons and limes off your hands! I just bought some of both yesterday!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.