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Lemon Cupcakes with Lemon-Blueberry Buttercream

by Jamie on March 8, 2011

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If you follow me on Facebook, you may remember me throwing out the words epic and buttercream in the same sentence last week. Well, here is that “epic” buttercream in all its glory slathered onto some pretty amazing lemon cupcakes.

If you have been a reader of My Baking Addiction for a while, I’m certain you may remember my love affair with Dorie Greenspan’s Perfect Party Cake. Simply said, it lives up to its name and is all kinds of perfect. In this recipe, Dorie’s cake combines with a lemon-blueberry buttercream that creates a serious party in your mouth. Yep, you heard that right…Party. In. Your. Mouth. Good!

Since today is Fat Tuesday, I thought there was no better way to indulge in the fervor of the day than with cupcakes topped with a butter laden frosting. It has become quite the tradition in the school I work at, to come with paczkis in hand and bribe the students with these fantastic pastries as we discuss the history of Fat Tuesday. I’m not sure how much of the history they remember, but you can be sure they remember the treat that accompanies it!

Over the years, heading over to the local bakery to pick them up, I have always been inspired by the various flavors and smells that engulfed my sniffer: lemon, blueberry, raspberry, cream, and custards a’ plenty! I decided that I wanted to concoct a cupcake that turns my favorite paczki flavors (lemon and blueberry) and combines them into a delectable treat!

I started with the aforementioned Perfect Party Cake, then upped the lemon factor by about a thousand – I filled it with lemon curd! As if that weren’t absurd enough, the blueberry buttercream I concocted to top this little morsel of deliciousness is seriously the very best buttercream variation I’ve dreamed up so far. I hope you enjoy every minute of Fat Tuesday! Eat, Drink, and be Merry!


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Lemon-Blueberry Cupcakes

March 8th, 2011

Yield: approximately 24 cupcakes

Ingredients:

For the Cake

2 1/4 cups cake flour (I used Swan’s Down brand)
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 1/4 cups buttermilk, room temperature
4 large egg whites, room temperature
1 1/2 cups sugar
lemon zest from two lemons (finely grated)
1 stick (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon pure lemon extract

For Lemon Curd

1 cup white sugar
3 eggs
1 cup fresh lemon juice (about 4-5 lemons)
zest of 3 lemons
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted

Lemon Blueberry Buttercream

4 sticks unsalted butter, softened
2 pounds confectioners’ sugar, sifted
pinch of fine grain sea salt
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
zest of one lemon (finely grated)
½ cup fresh blueberries, pureed with 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1-3 tablespoons very cold milk (add until you reach desired consistency)

Directions:

For the Cake

Getting Ready: Center a rack in the oven to 350 degrees F. Line cupcake tins with paper liners or spray with non-stick cooking spray.

1. In a large bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder and salt.

2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the milk and egg whites.

3. Place the sugar and lemon zest in the bowl of your mixer or another large bowl and rub them together with your fingers until the sugar is moist and fragrant. Add the butter and, working with the paddle or whisk attachment, or with a hand mixer, beat at medium speed for a full 3 minutes, until the butter and sugar are very light. Beat in the extracts, then add one third of the flour mixture, still beating on medium speed. Beat in half of the milk-egg mixture, then beat in half of the remaining dry ingredients until incorporated. Add the rest of the milk and eggs, beating until the batter is homogeneous, then add the last of the dry ingredients. Finally, give the batter a good 2-minute beating to ensure that it is thoroughly mixed and well aerated. Using a large scoop (about 3 tablespoons), distribute the batter between 24 muffin wells, filling each well 2/3 full.

4. Bake for 18-22 minutes, or until the cupcakes are springy to the touch and a toothpick inserted into the centers come out clean. Cool on wire rack.

5. Once cupcakes have cooled, hollow out a small circle in the center of each cupcake; I use an apple corer because I am anal and obsessed with symmetry.

For Lemon Curd

1. In a large microwave-safe bowl, whisk together the sugar and eggs until smooth and thoroughly combined. Whisk in lemon juice, lemon zest and butter.

2. Cook in the microwave on full power for one minute intervals, stirring after each minute. This process will take about 3-5 minutes depending on the strength of your microwave. You will know the lemon curd is done cooking when it coats the back of a metal spoon.

3. Remove from the microwave, and allow to cool completely before filling cupcakes.

4. Pipe or spoon the lemon curd into each hollowed cupcake and top with buttercream.

For the Lemon Blueberry Buttercream

1. In a large mixing bowl, cream butter until fluffy. Slowly add in confectioner’s sugar, and continue creaming until well blended.

2. Add salt, vanilla, lemon zest and blueberry puree and mix until well combined. If buttercream is too thick, slowly drizzle in milk until you reach the desired consistency. Beat at high speed until frosting is smooth and fluffy.

Notes:

- If you want more of a lemon kick in the frosting, simply add a bit more zest.
- Frosting was piped using the large French tip from Bake It Pretty.
- Be sure to use a zester to prepare the lemon zest, you want it to be extremely fine for the cake, lemon curd and the buttercream.
- Cupcakes are best served the day they are made, but you can store them covered in the refrigerator for up to two days. Bring cupcakes to room temperature for about an hour before serving.

-Adapted from Dorie Greenspan.


{ 77 comments… read them below or add one }

Masha April 3, 2011 at 12:29 pm

Question: How do you mske store brought frosting, I think that that would be a wonderful next experiment

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Rachel April 24, 2011 at 9:01 pm

Wanted to say thank you for the wonderful recipe! Made theses cupcakes but filled them with a lemon mousse and topped them with a white chocolate cream cheese frosting. Everyone loved them!

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Rachel April 24, 2011 at 9:05 pm

I also used your microwave lemon curd in the lemon mousse…so delish! Thanks again for sharing your talents!

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Felicia April 28, 2011 at 6:05 pm

I made these cupcakes this weekend. The cake was excellent, the lemon curd was easy and the frosting was delish. Everyone seemed to love them!

I think I could have halved the frosting recipe and still had plenty for my family and friend’s tastes.

Great stuff!

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Gail May 1, 2011 at 1:53 am

The lemon curd recipe has an error but I didn’t realize it until too late. Lemon soup is actually what results with the ingredients as posted. Never thickened in the microwave and even in a double boiler, the classic way, it barely got to the consistency of cream. I added 1 tsp of softened gelatin to salvage the lemon curd, which was quite tart and tasted good at least. But with the addition of gelatin, the cake did not absorb it. Not sure what would happen if the correct amount of lemon juice (1/2 cup) had been specified. I see why one poster injected it and another decided to use mousse. The cake has a fine crumb and is good just as a plain cupcake with a lemon cream cheese frosting. I can’t imagine making a frosting that calls for one pound of butter and two pounds of confectioners sugar for 24 cup cakes. Glad I did not try to fill all the cupcakes so I didn’t completely waste a couple of hours of work. The lemon cream cheese frosting is a snap to make – 4 oz soft butter, 4 oz Neufchâtel cheese, 1 box confectioners sugar, zest of a lemon, 1 tsp vanilla, juice of a lemon. Whip the butter and cream cheese till light. Sift the sugar and add gradually with lemon juice to right consistency. Whip in zest and vanilla. You will still have tons left over. I will use the salvaged lemon curd in a shortbread tart shell and top with a bit of whipped cream.

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Jamie May 1, 2011 at 5:55 pm

Gail-
I’m sorry you had an issue with this recipe; however, I have been making this recipe for several years exactly as stated above and have never had “lemon soup”. I checked the comments on the original post and several readers had great results as well. Here is a link to the original recipe which also has stellar reviews. Perhaps you can read the reviews and trouble shoot what may have gone wrong.
-Jamie

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Gail May 15, 2011 at 5:21 pm

Hi Jamie,
Thank you for the reply. I also saw that recipe so I am not sure what the problem was except perhaps that my microwave is less powerful or that the exposure to the microwave followed by conventional heating interferes with the chemistry of the thickening process. Perhaps I will try again …
-Gail

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Gail May 15, 2011 at 5:23 pm

BTW – here is the link to the recipe using on 1/2 cup of lemon juice:
http://coffeeworks.blogs.com/coffee_and_tea/2007/01/microwave_lemon.html

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Sarah b May 6, 2011 at 12:03 am

Has anyone tried making this as a layer cake? Love this recipe and want to make in a layer cake form, was hoping to hear some suggestions, if you’ve got them.

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Alison June 16, 2011 at 9:37 am

Hey! I made these AND THEY WERE PERFECT! Thank you so much for such a yummy recipe. To those wishing to try it (and maybe you suggest it as well) I would make the lemon curd first, mine took a long time to cool. If you’re in a rush (which you shouldn’t be cause these take some time) you’ll want to let it start cooling asap. But they were PERFECTION.

I did halve the frosting, but if you’re going to be piping it…I don’t suggest it. Things got a little scarce.

I blogged them here

http://sheblogssheblogs.blogspot.com/2011/06/she-gives-cupcake-swan-song.html

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Megan Z. June 23, 2011 at 1:03 pm

These are some of the best cupcakes I have ever made or tasted! Thank you so much for sharing! I definitely plan on making these again very soon.

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Molly July 6, 2011 at 1:23 pm

Hi, the recipe for these cupcakes looks great! So great, I’m considering making them for my friend’s birthday. Would it be possible to make the cake in 2 8″ pans or would it be too moist?

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MommyrellaSweets September 21, 2011 at 12:41 am

Thanks so much for the recipe, I made these for my niece’s birthday and they were a HUUGE hit! I

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Kelly October 24, 2011 at 3:21 pm

Made these last night minus the lemon curd. There isn’t too much lemon flavor and you should probably only make 1/4 of the buttercream recipe. I have way too much extra. The cake texture is amazing. very rich.

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Jennifer Ameer November 5, 2011 at 8:50 pm

I made these cupcakes (minus the lemon curd for simplicity reasons). I have a lemon tree so I used lemon juice instead of lemon extract in the cake batter and it tasted yummy and lemony. In the buttercream, I used 1 Tbsp of milk and used lemon juice instead of milk for the rest of the liquid I might need to thin the buttercream out. I also did this since I left out the lemon curd to up the lemon factor. The flavors were great! Having said that, I do have a question when it comes to the cake. I’ve tried a similar recipe as vanilla cupcakes once before (I believe it was the Greenspan recipe for vanilla cake. It also used the egg whites and cake flour) and it was a disaster. The cupcakes didn’t rise enough, shrunk in size from the cupcake tin and also pulled away from the wrappers. This recipe was not that disasterous but I will say that I needed to fill mine almost completely to the top of the wrapper in order for them not to shrink into mini cupcakes. Have you experienced this? Also, the texture turned out very much like angel food cake but a little more dense. Is that the right texture? Thanks!

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Jamie November 13, 2011 at 9:46 am

Jennifer-
This recipe was adapted from the Dorie Greenspan recipe for Perfect Party Cake. I have heard from other readers having issues with this cake recipe if they are baking at a high altitude. I would suggest that you check out this post from my friend, Katie – she adjusted the cake and gave some great tips for high altitude baking.
-Jamie

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Aly March 13, 2012 at 3:45 pm

I want to try your lemon curd recipe here. I used the one from Momofuku but I wasn’t a big fan. It was too liquidy (it finally set more a few days later, but ugh!) and it used gelatin, which seemed silly to me.

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Andrea March 16, 2012 at 11:29 am

Hi there, I tried your recipe today using ordinary cake flour from the stores. But the cupcakes, though flavourful were a little bouncy and stretchy. I made extra effort ensuring that I didn’t over beat the mixture. I’m quite stumped as to how this could have happened. Hope you can help!!! Thanks!

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Jamie March 22, 2012 at 8:14 pm

Andrea-
This is a pretty light cake, it definitely has a little bounce to it. Sorry it wasn’t what you expected.
Jamie

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Jamie May 3, 2012 at 9:09 pm

how many cupcakes does this make?

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Zoe July 3, 2012 at 1:39 pm

I’ve made these cupcakes several times and they always turn out perfectly (including TODAY!) I will keep this recipe for the rest of my life. Thank you for it!

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Jamie July 3, 2012 at 4:34 pm

Glad these turned out so well for you – thanks for reporting back on your experience with the recipe.
-Jamie

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Wendy March 6, 2013 at 12:12 pm

I am loyal to this lemon cake recipe. It is by far my favorite, I love how light and fluffy it is. I have used it a gazillion times, seriously, it’s that epic. Thank you!

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Elizabeth December 5, 2013 at 1:24 pm

Hi! So I’m typically a pie baker and not cakes, but I’m trying to surprise my husband for his birthday. He’s not even an icing fan so I’m hoping he’ll change his mind after this recipe. Again I’m trying to hide this from him do you have any suggestions he works during the day and I can’t have a cake just sitting around can I bake the cake let it cool and wrap it to sit hidden in the fridge. Can I make the buttercream a day or two ahead of time? Thanks!

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Jamie January 10, 2014 at 3:38 pm

Hi Elizabeth,
That should work, but the buttercream may need to be brought up to room temperature and whipped again in order to spread smoothly.
- Jamie

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