Wonderfully zingy lemon sponge combined with lemon buttercream frosting make for a super tasty treat that's a joy to decorate.
Mother's Day is coming up! What's your favourite type of gift? If you're anything like me, it's those things that you won't be able to come by again - those special little gifts that really show that someone went above and beyond to get you something unique. Whether it's been cooked, drawn, crafted or personalised, chances are I'm going to love it.
That's why I'm so excited about Amazon.co.uk's new store Handmade at Amazon. It's a platform exclusively for artisans to show off their unique, handcrafted goods. Every artisan in the store is first vetted by Amazon to ensure their wares are created, altered or assembled entirely by hand.
I think Handmade at Amazon is a wonderful way to show off creative works and there are already tons of unique items to choose from. The list just goes on and on: jewellery, art, clothing, shoes, furniture, home décor, kitchen products, toys and games, sports items and more. If there's something you know a loved one is a big fan of, chances are you'll find a perfect match on the store.
Amazon was kind enough to let the kids pick an item to review and, as they're currently showcasing some particularly love items for Mother's Day, I decided my to let my kids, Jay (6) and JD (10) do the honours.
And what did they pick? A Jonny's Sister's Personalised Cake Tin, and I absolutely love it! After it arrived, we decided that while it wasn't quite Mother's Day yet, we just had to share it with you pronto, so I got to open it early.
Clearly my children know me well - I love the tin (it's well made and keeps everything super fresh) and the message is perfectly simple. And with 15 colours and two beautiful fonts to choose from, you really can make a gift to suit anyone.
Jay told me that she had trouble deciding between the cake tin and Victoria Eggs' English Dinner Apron - I assured her either would have been wonderful, and apparently the aprons are on their way! Edit: they arrived!
So with my new tin installed in our kitchen, what better treat to go in it than some homemade lemon frosted cupcakes, made with the kids?
The sponge in these lemon cupcakes is moist and made extra delicious with a hint of fresh lemon rind, and the juice goes into the frosting resulting in utterly delicious cakes. Creating them is great fun from start to finish, from mixing the batter, to piping the fantastically fun swirls of the frosting, to giving you and your kids the chance to get really creative with the decorations and spend some quality time together.
Intrigued? Here's how to make them!
Lemon frosted Mother's Day lemon cupcakes
For the sponges
- 250g (8.8 oz) butter, softened
- 300g (10.6 oz) sugar
- 3 large free range eggs
- 3 tbsp plain yogurt
- 300g (10.6 oz) self raising flour
- Rind of 1 lemon
For the lemon frosting
- 250g (8.8 oz) unsalted butter, softened
- 680g (1.5 lb) icing sugar
- juice of 1 lemon
- 3 tbsp whole milk
- your choice of decorations
Pre-heat the oven to 180C/350F (160C/320F fan assisted). To make the lemon cupcake sponges, cream together the butter and sugar.
Beat in the eggs and yogurt.
Mix in the flour.
Add the lemon rind.
Line the muffin tray with muffin cases.
Divide the mixture evenly between them.
Bake for about 25 minutes until springy on top. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
To make the frosting, put the cubed and softened butter in a bowl.
Add the icing sugar, milk and lemon juice and beat until fluffy and pale.
Transfer into a piping bag fitted with a star nozzle.
Pipe generous swirls on top of each muffin.
Top with your choice of decorations.
Serve with breakfast on Mother's Day morning - they're a sweet, zingy winner.
And with the lid on, they're perfectly stored to eat later...although they were all gone in no time!
What are your go-to decorations for baking cupcakes with the kids?
Pointers, tricks and troubleshooting tips for the perfect lemon cupcakes with zesty lemon buttercream frosting
Are lemon cupcakes easy to make?
These lemon cupcakes are such a joy to make, they are easy to whip up and the kids can help at every stage it's such a lovely way to spend some quality time with them and who can resist a freshly baked lemon cupcake!
Will I need any special equipment to make lemon cupcakes with lemon buttercream frosting?
To make these lemon cupcakes you should be able to find everything you need in a home bakers kitchen.
We used an electric hand whisk to beat the butter and sugar together for the cake batter, and the buttercream frosting. You can of course just do this with a spoon, but it will take a little longer.
This recipe makes 12 cupcakes so you’ll need a 12 hole muffin tin with cupcake cases to line the tin, weighing scales and measuring spoons, and a piping bag with a star nozzle to decorate.
If you don’t have a piping bag you can spoon the buttercream on top to decorate. The full list of suggested equipment can be found in the recipe card below.
How can I tell if eggs have gone off?
Advice regarding egg safety and storage is different in some countries so please check information local to you.
In the UK most eggs are produced to the Red Lion code which is a food standards agency that monitors the production of eggs to ensure high quality and safety standards are upheld. You might notice the Red Lion stamp on the egg box, or sometimes on the eggs themselves.
Red Lion eggs don't necessarily have to be kept in the fridge. Though it is important to keep them at a constant temperature below 20C. So the fridge might be the best place for them if your kitchen temperature fluctuates, even when making dinner or at warmer times of the year. When keeping eggs in the fridge, only get out what you need for a particular recipe, and leave the box in the fridge to avoid temperature changes for the whole box.
In the UK eggs have a Best Before End date, and may still be ok for a few days after this if they have been stored correctly and show no signs of spoilage. If they have a Use-By date they should not be used past this date.
You can check if an egg might have gone off, by cracking it into a small bowl to check it. This way you can make sure the eggs haven’t spoiled before contaminating the other ingredients.
Have a look at the cracked egg, checking for any discolouration. You can also smell the egg, gone off eggs will have an unavoidable rotten smell and should be discarded.
Are lemon cupcakes suitable for vegetarians?
As these zesty cupcakes contain no meat or fish they are suitable for vegetarians. Do double check any extra decorations you are planning to use are vegetarian as well, some food colourings contain animal divided products so would not be suitable.
Are these lemon cupcakes suitable for vegans?
If the recipe is followed to the letter these cupcakes would not be suitable for vegans as they contain dairy butter, yoghurt, eggs, and more butter and milk in the frosting.
All of these ingredients can be replaced with vegan alternatives if you want to try and make this vegan.
I haven’t tested this recipe vegan yet but would suggest the following alternatives. For the butter, you can use vegan butter, dairy-free margarine or a vegan baking block. The milk and yoghurt can be replaced with plant-based alternatives, use one with a neutral flavour like unsweetened soy milk, and plain soy yoghurt. As almond or coconut milk or yoghurt may be overpowering. Finally, for the eggs you can try one of these options, (each = 1 egg, so multiply as needed for any given recipe).
- 1 tablespoon of crushed chia seeds or flax seeds mixed with 2 tablespoons of water and left for 10 minutes in the fridge.
- 3 tablespoons of aquafaba (the water you get in a tin of chickpeas).
- 3 tablespoons of applesauce (bear in mind this will add sweetness).
Check any decorative elements you want to add are also suitable.
Is this lemon cupcake recipe gluten-free?
These lemon cupcakes are made with wheat-based self-raising flour, so if you followed the recipe it would not be gluten-free.
That said, you could try and use gluten-free flour instead if you want to make these gluten-free. I haven’t tested this recipe with gluten-free flour yet, I always recommend using a good quality gluten-free flour which will likely be a blend of flours like rice, and oat as well as raising agents and a binder like xanthan gum which helps with the texture.
Are lemon cupcakes with buttercream frosting keto-friendly?
Each cupcake with frosting is about 100g of carbohydrates so unfortunately, these are a no-go for a keto-diet.
Are lemon cupcakes healthy?
We’ve made these lemon cupcakes with buttercream frosting for Mother's Day, being high in sugar and fats they should be saved as a treat like this.
If you want to reduce the sugar you could perhaps forgo the buttercream, or half the amount of buttercream so each cupcake is more lightly decorated.
Are lemon cupcakes with buttercream frosting safe to eat while pregnant?
Yes, there is nothing in these cupcakes that would usually pose a risk to a pregnant woman. Make sure the ingredients are in good condition, and the cupcakes are prepared and decorated safely and hygienically.
A Mummy Too does not give medical advice, if you have any concerns please speak to a qualified health professional.
What goes well with lemon cupcakes?
These lemon cupcakes with lemon buttercream frosting are such a treat and of course go perfectly with a good cuppa.
Can I make these lemon cupcakes dairy-free?
These lemon cupcakes contain quite a bit of dairy in the cupcakes themselves, and the buttercream. I haven’t tested this recipe with dairy-free alternatives but you could give it a go.
Use dairy-free margarine or dairy-free baking block to replace the butter in the cupcakes, and buttercream. To replace the yoghurt in the cupcake mix you can use a soy or oat yoghurt, use one with a plain flavour, rather than coconut yoghurt. And similarly, for the milk in the buttercream, I like to use unsweetened soya milk, any neutral dairy-free milk will work.
This will obviously just make the cakes dairy-free, they would not be suitable for vegans as they still contain eggs, and do make sure to check any decorations you might be using are dairy-free too.
I haven’t got plain yoghurt, can I use vanilla yoghurt?
The yoghurt in the cupcake mix brings moistness and helps create a lovely spongy crumb. I’ve used plain yoghurt so it doesn’t distract from the flavour of the lemon, and I haven’t tested it out with different flavours.
As long as you use a subtle flavour like vanilla or lemon yoghurt it should be ok, but do keep in mind flavoured yoghurts tend to have added sugar in so this will make the cakes sweeter.
Can I add extra lemon to this recipe?
For me, these cakes are lemony enough, as long as you remember to put the zest in the cupcakes, and then use the juice for the buttercream you should have lovely bright zesty cakes that balance out the sweetness.
It's surprising how much lemon flavour comes from even a tiny bit of zest so I don’t think you need to add more but give it a try if you like. You might be able to find cute little lemon-shaped decorations for the top.
How should I store lemon cupcakes with buttercream frosting?
I’ve been using my new cake tin to store these cupcakes which works well. They’ll need to be kept on a single layer to protect the frosting, in a sealed container either in a cool dark place. As these cupcakes have a generous topping of buttercream, you might want to consider storing them in the fridge, particularly if it's quite warm in your kitchen.
How long do lemon cupcakes keep?
When stored correctly these lemon cupcakes will keep for 3-5 days in the fridge, or for up to 3 months in the freezer.
Can I leave lemon cupcakes with lemon buttercream frosting out on the counter?
No, other than for serving these cupcakes need to be stored in a sealed container to help keep them fresh.
Can I make lemon cupcakes with lemon buttercream frosting ahead?
As with most home bakes, they are best enjoyed freshly made. Though you can split the making of these cupcakes over a day or two if you want to get ahead.
The cupcakes themselves can be baked the day ahead, allow them to cool completely before popping them into a sealed container. Store in a cool dark place until you’re ready to decorate the next day.
Can I keep lemon cupcakes in the refrigerator?
Yes, to help keep these cupcakes fresher for longer its a good idea to keep them in the fridge. When you want to serve the remaining cupcakes get them out of the fridge half an hour before so they can come up to room temperature which will bring out the flavour. Just get out the number you need and leave the rest in the fridge.
Can I freeze lemon cupcakes with buttercream frosting?
Yes, the cakes freeze well with and without the frosting. Decorated cupcakes will need to be frozen on a single layer, using a baking sheet that will fit in your freezer can be helpful to get them in and out. Leave them to freeze overnight and then you can transfer them into a suitable container or bag so they take up less space.
To freeze cupcakes that have not been decorated just make sure they are completely cool and put them into a freezer bag. Remember to label your container with the date and what type of cakes are inside. They will keep in the freezer for up to 3 months.
What is the best way to defrost lemon cupcakes with buttercream frosting?
When you come to defrost your lemon cupcakes you can simply put the container in the fridge to thaw out overnight.
If you only want to get out a couple of cakes, put them into a different container to defrost in the fridge. Keeping them in a sealed container helps to stop condensation from forming on the frosting.
Can I make lemon cupcakes in a different quantity?
Yes, it's so easy to make more or less of these delightful cupcakes. Head down to the recipe cake below and you’ll see the servings are set to make 12 cupcakes. Click or hover over this number and a little slider will appear, move this up or down to get the number you want to make.
As you move the slider, you’ll see the ingredient quantities updating underneath, get the eggs to a round number if you can, it's hard to use half an egg!
If you only have one muffin tray and want to make more you can bake them in batches.
Can I make these lemon cupcakes into one big cake?
I love these as cute cupcakes so haven’t tried to make it as a larger cake, but in theory, it should work. Grease and line two 20cm (8inch) cake tins and divide the batter equally between them. The larger cakes will take a bit longer to bake, check them after 30-35 minutes and return to the oven if the skewer doesn’t come out clean. Allow the cakes to cool and use the buttercream to sandwich them together, adding more buttercream to the top to finish off.
Can I make these into mini lemon cupcakes?
Yes, if you like you could use a mini muffin tray to bake these cupcakes. You may need to bake them in batches if you only have one tray, I haven’t tested this recipe with a mini tray so not sure how many you’ll be able to make. The cupcakes will bake a little quicker as they are smaller so check them after 15 minutes. As they are smaller, you might not need all the buttercream to decorate them.
Can I make the cupcake batter and buttercream in a stand mixer such as a KitchenAid or Kenwood Mixer?
Personally, I prefer to use a hand whisk when I’m baking but if you have a stand mixer this will work just as well and saves a lot of time when baking.
Follow the recipe and cream together the sugar and butter with the whisk or paddle attachment, start slowly, and build up to a higher speed until the mix looks light and fluffy, add the yoghurt and eggs beating again.
When you get to the flour go more slowly to fold the flour in gently. You will need to scrape down the sides as you go to make sure everything is well combined. Mix through the lemon zest by hand so you can make sure the other ingredients are well mixed in too.
How can I make sure my cupcakes are perfectly cooked?
Your cupcakes will rise, and turn an inviting golden colour on top. You’ll know when they are perfectly cooked when they feel springing on top, bouncing back when the middle is gently pressed. And to make sure you can use the skewer test to see if they are cooked right through. Allow the cupcakes to cool before decorating so the frosting doesn’t slip off.
Why did my cupcakes turn out dry and dense?
This recipe is well balanced and should create moist cupcakes if the ingredients are added in the correct quantities. Did you remember to add the yoghurt?
They may turn out dense and dry if the cakes are in the oven too long. It's always a good idea to set a timer so you can check the cakes when they are done. The cakes will also dry out more quickly if not stored correctly. Let them cool before adding the decoration, and then store in an airtight container to help keep them fresher for longer.
Why did my cupcakes turn out wet and sink in the middle?
This may be because the oven wasn’t hot enough. It's important to allow the oven to come up to temperature before you put the cakes in to bake. When the cakes go into an oven that isn’t hot enough they won’t bake properly, and you are more likely to have issues with them rising.
Give the oven plenty of time to warm up, I often turn it on as the first thing I do, especially if it’s quite a quick recipe to prepare before going in the oven. If you find things often take longer to cook in your oven it might be worth getting an oven thermometer so you can check the actual temperature, some oven dials are not the most accurate.
Why didn’t my cupcakes rise?
Generally speaking, cakes rise because of the reactions between the raising agent, like baking powder with the wet ingredients in the cake batter. These reactions create tiny bubbles of carbon dioxide which expand, and as the cake cooks the mixture bakes around these bubbles creating a light airy crumb to the cake.
Quite a few things can affect how well cakes rise, and it's often to do with these bubbles not being made enough, or popping too early so the cake collapses.
The raising agent we’re using for this bake is already in the self-raising flour, and this can become less active over time so if you're using an old bag of flour it might not be as potent as a fresh bag. If you think this might be the case you can use this flour for other bakes that don’t need to rise or try adding a little baking powder to help instead.
Over mixing the batter can be another cause of cakes not rising properly, as soon as the wet and dry ingredients are mixed, those reactions that make the cake rise will start. If you mix the batter too much it will knock out all the bubbles that make the cakes rise.
It's also a good idea to get the muffin tray lined and ready to go, you want to get the cakes into the oven as quickly as possible so the batter isn’t sitting out on the side for ages before it goes into the oven.
Oven temperature is also key, always allow time for the oven to come up to temperature. Not hot enough and the cakes won’t bake, too hot and the cakes will rise rapidly and then collapse because the batter hasn’t had time to cook and hold its shape.
Finally, keep the oven door closed until the cooking time is almost up, you can keep an eye on your bakes through the glass in the door. If you open it too early this will cause a drop in temperature in the oven which might make the cakes collapse.
Why did my cupcakes taste bland?
Did you remember the lemon zest? Small though it is, the zest really livens up these little cupcakes and brings that lovely lemony flavour right through.
Get out all the ingredients before you start, and do a final check through the recipe before you divide the batter into the cupcake cases to make sure all the ingredients have gone in. If the cakes aren’t strongly flavoured enough for you, add a little more zest next time.
How do I create perfect swirls with the buttercream?
Firstly check the cakes are cool before you start decorating, so the buttercream stays in place.
Fill the piping bag, and one at a time, starting at the outer edge of a cake pipe the buttercream in an even spiral, gradually working your way up into the middle. If you have a cake turning table this can help, but for such small cakes, you should be able to create lovely swirls without turning the cakes as you go. With a bit of practice, you’ll have perfect swirls. And always remember the joy of home baking is making each one unique, they will still taste delicious even if they are a bit wonky.
Print this lemon cupcake recipe
If you’d like to print this recipe to try later, just hit PRINT on the recipe card below.
Lemon cupcakes with lemon buttercream frosting
For the sponges
- 250 g (8.8 oz) butter softened
- 300 g (10.6 oz) sugar
- 3 eggs large free range
- 3 tbsp plain yogurt
- 300 g (10.6 oz) self raising flour
- 1 Rind of lemon
For the lemon frosting
- 250 g (8.8 oz) unsalted butter softened
- 680 g (1.5 lb) icing sugar
- 1 juice of lemon
- 3 tbsp whole milk
- your choice of decorations
To make the sponges
- Pre-heat the oven to 180C/350F (160C/320F fan assisted. To make the sponges, cream together the butter and sugar.
- Beat in the eggs and yogurt.
- Mix in the flour.
- Add the lemon rind.
- Line the muffin tray with muffin cases.
- Divide the mixture evenly between them.
- Bake for about 25 minutes until springy on top. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
To make the lemon buttercream frosting
- Put the cubed and softened butter in a bowl.
- Add the icing sugar, milk and lemon juice and beat until fluffy and pale.
- Transfer into a piping bag fitted with a star nozzle.
- Pipe generous swirls on top of each muffin.
- Top with your choice of decorations.
- Serve with breakfast on Mother's Day morning - they're a sweet, zingy winner.
This is a commissioned post for Handmade at Amazon.
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More easy cupcake recipes to try
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