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When my father-in-law turned 70, the pressure was on to contribute something to the menu that the non-chocolate eaters would devour while trying to wait for a break in the rainstorm before heading home for the evening. I plan to make these again for Easter brunch as they're perfect for spring and nobody ever frowns at lemon cupcakes!! Or do they?
The day before the party, I made a few phone calls to find out what people were bringing—homemade avocado sushi, stuffed sweet peppers, Gougères, brown sugar and chili pepper salmon (recipe should appear here in the very near future—it’s exquisite), shrimp cups, antipasto skewers; though the only dessert was my mother-in-law’s go to chocolate tart. I know, it’s insane to realize there are people in the world who do not love or even enjoy chocolate, so I tasked myself the important job of taking care of those very odd but quite lovable friends and family with something they would hopefully enjoy!
There are two types of desserts I always fall back on when I’m planning a dinner party: chocolate or lemon, especially this time of year when they’re at their best and most convenient location—hanging from the tree in the yard. After digging through my recipe box, I found the exactly what I was looking for: luscious lemon citrus cake, that I ended up turning into cupcakes rather than a layer cake. This also gave me an opportunity to use my new cupcake gadget, which is awesome and doesn't leave your muffin pans a giant mess.
Originally, the recipe is frosted with a rich buttercream frosting but I opted to do another buttercream recipe that wasn’t as dense—because of the rainy, humid weather I didn’t want to take the chance of having melted frosting all over the interior or my car or over the display table, but for those of you who want that buttercream frosting recipe, it’s right here.
While this frosting isn’t 100% weather-proof, I’ve found in the past that it’s not as sensitive as the original frosting used, which will crack (but it can be fixed by just remixing!) For this recipe, I obviously added fresh lemon juice but you can add whatever juice or extract you wish.
So what are you waiting for? Pop open a bottle of your favorite sparkling wine, or order this one and enjoy!
- 2 1/2 cups cake flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 2 sticks unsalted butter, slightly softened
- 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
- 2 large eggs, at room temperature
- 3 large egg yolks, at room temperature
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon lemon zest
- 1 teaspoon orange zest
- 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1/2 cup whole milk
- Preheat oven to 350º, prepare 2 muffin tins with baking cups.
- Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt and set aside.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the butter on medium-speed until creamy. Gradually add the sugar to the butter, gradually increasing the speed to medium-high until the mixture is light and fluffy. Be sure to scrape down the sides of the bowl a couple of times!
- Add the eggs, one at a time, combining well after each addition. Beat in the vanilla, lemon and orange zest.
- Reduce the speed to low and gradually add the lemon juice—the batter will appear curdled but it will smooth out once you add the dry ingredients, in three additions, alternating between the milk and flour mixture. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and mix again for another minute or so.
- Fill the prepared cupcake pans and bake the cupcakes for 18-20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack.
Yields 24 normal-sized cupcakes
Semi-Rain-Proof Buttercream Frosting
- 1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
- 2 1/4 cups confectioners’ sugar
- liquid food coloring (optional)
- 2 tablespoons fruit juice (lemon for this recipe) or milk
- Place softened butter in the box of a stand mixer and gradually add the sugar by sifting a small amount over the butter, waiting until it’s incorporated together.
- Continue until all the sugar is blended together. Mix until the icing is pale and fluffy, add a small amount of food coloring toward the end of mixing if you want a more-vivid yellow color (or another color!). Add the juice or milk.
- Decorate as you wish!
Yields enough frosting for 24 cupcakes