Best-ever lemon cupcake, the perfect Spring dessert

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A petite sweet treat with a huge “awesome!” factor, cupcakes have been having their moment for a few years now.

On-trend since Magnolia Bakery in NYC’s West Village turned them into an eye-catching confection – not to mention their star-turn on Sex and the City which further sweetened their profile – cupcakes are, still, an “it” dessert.

More sophisticated than the donut but less of a commitment than a piece of cake, they are an awesome accompaniment to a cuppa and a light but omg dinner finale.

I recently served these moist cupcakes for dessert along with lemon curd and fresh fruit. Joyfully consumed with requests for seconds and the recipe, they go into my dessert file under “killer.”

Tart them up with piped icing – so easy – and candied lemon peel and they will rock the dessert plate, guaranteed.

They are truly a perfect Spring dessert.

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They came to fruition (sorry – I couldn’t resist :)) by combining two lemon cupcake recipes. The cupcake base comes from Style at Home and the icing is from Real Simple.

More proof that my massive sizeable modest magazine investment is worthwhile.

They are an easy make-ahead. In fact these lemon cupcakes can be made weeks before a special occasion and frozen. Thaw and ice (sounds like a contradiction – I can hear my husband sighing… heavily) when needed.

I made an extra-batch for my mom to enjoy on Mother’s Day.

Here are the two recipes:

Lemon Cupcake – makes 12 cupcakes

1 ¼ cup cake flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/8 teaspoon salt

½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 cup sugar

2 large eggs

1 tablespoon lemon juice

2 teaspoons grated lemon zest

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

½ cup whole milk

Directions:

Position rack in middle of oven and preheat to 350 F. Line 12 muffin tins with paper cup liners.

  1. Sift the cake flour, baking powder and salt into a medium bowl. Put aside.
  2. In a large bowl and using an electric mixer on medium speed, beat the butter and sugar until smoothly blended and lightened in colour, about two minutes.
  3. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing until each is blended into the batter and it looks creamy, about one minute.
  4. Add the lemon juice, lemon zest and vanilla and beat for two minutes.
  5. With mixer on a low speed add the flour and milk, alternating between the two and making three additions of the flour and two of the milk. Mix until flour is incorporated. Don’t overmix.
  6. Fill each paper liner so they’re ¾ full.
  7. Bake for 23 minutes or just until the tops feel firm and bounce back when touched.

Lemon Cupcake Icing

½ cup (one stick) butter at room temperature

1½ cups icing sugar

2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest

2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

¼ teaspoon kosher salt

To make the icing:     Using an electric mixer, beat the butter and sugar on medium high until light and fluffy, three to five minutes. Beat in the lemon zest, lemon juice and salt. Ice the cupcakes and voila!

FYI – Why use cake flour instead of all-purpose flour?

It’s a simple question with a serious answer. More evidence that baking is chemistry. Cake flour has a lower protein content, which affects the end product’s texture.  Quite simply it makes the baked good more tender.

Who doesn’t love tender, especially when we’re talking about cake or men.

Transporting cupcakes can be tricky. Here’s Canadian Living’s recommendation for the best cupcake carrier.

Let me know what you think!

Enjoy!!

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