Triple Lemon Cupcakes
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Tender lemon cupcakes filled with tangy homemade lemon curd and topped with a sweet, creamy lemon buttercream. A lemon lover’s dream!
Welcome to #LemonWeek 2021 hosted by me! What better way to welcome summer than with over 50 recipes featuring bright and sunny lemons? Come join me and my fellow Lemon Week bloggers as we bring you recipes from appetizers to drinks to entrées and desserts!
When I have dessert, it’s got to be all out. And when I start with something great (LEMON), then I believe the next best thing is to double that lemon… So while I’m at it, why not just go for the gold and make it triple good?
I am not messing around here, my fellow lemon lovers: I bring to you today triple lemon cupcakes, because dreams are made of lemon desserts while we float around on sunshine yellow clouds of lemon buttercream.
So what makes these cupcakes triple lemon cupcakes? We’ve got:
1) a tender lemon cupcake
2) a homemade lemon curd filling
3) a fluffy buttercream flavored with more lemon curd
Triple. Lemon. Heaven.
So I’ve already showed you how to make the simple lemon curd filling for these bad boys (and also how to use it in some lemon mousse), and since I love taking something that works and using it again, you can actually find the lemon cupcakes and lemon buttercream in other forms around the blog.
You’ll recognize the lemon cupcake batter from my orange creamsicle cake (just sans orange marmalade and of course, with lemons instead of oranges) and the buttercream is my traditional vanilla buttercream, just with a splash of some lemon curd to jazz it up a bit.
It’s great having base recipes that we can easily adapt to accommodate other flavors!
Let’s start by chatting about the cupcake batter. It’s very easy. You’re just going to have to remember the importance of alternating the flour mixture with the lemon/milk mixture when adding it to the creamed butter and sugar.
ALTERNATE FLOUR MIXTURE WITH THE WET INGREDIENTS
I spoke about why we alternate flour and milk in my orange creamsicle cake recipe, but I’ll say it again because it’s good to know!
The base of this cupcake batter is quite buttery and wet. You can only add so much more liquid to this mixture before it just can’t absorb any more.
It’s likely to separate if there’s too much liquid introduced into such a wet base before there’s anything there to help absorb it.
If we start with a little bit of flour, we have a bit more of a vehicle for adding more liquid. I always find the lightest crumb with my alternating additions method. This isn’t always the method when it comes to making a cake or cupcake batter (hello, reverse creaming method in my white layer cake!), but the ratios in this batter benefit from it.
Aaaaand there’s your dose of baking science for the week!
While the cupcakes bake, you can get to work on the buttercream, which is also pretty simple. Butter, powdered sugar, some vanilla extract, milk or cream, and of course, the star of the show: the lemon curd.
How many times do you think we can say “lemon” in this post?
HOW TO FILL THE CUPCAKES WITH LEMON CURD
Now you’ll of course need to wait for your cupcakes to cool completely before you fill them with the lemon curd, but since they’re so small, it won’t take all that much time.
Once they’re cool enough, you’ll cut out a small hole with a knife. I’ve also used a melon baller, a tiny circle cookie cutter, or the base of a large piping tip. Whatever makes life easier for you.
Fill the hole with about a teaspoon of the lemon curd, and replace the portion of the cupcake you cut out. A little cupcake hat. So adorable.
It’s ok if some filling squishes out, just make sure it’s not spilling out all over the top of the cupcake. That can get messy. Remedy this problem by either making your holes bigger or putting a little less filling in them.
Once you have your lemon curd filled cupcakes, they’re ready for their sunshine clouds of lemon buttercream.
As long as that lemon buttercream gets on top of those cupcakes somehow, you’re in good shape.
PREVENT CUPCAKES FROM SINKING OR NOT RISING PROPERLY
I originally published these lemon cupcakes with lemon curd filling after serving them at my baby shower back in 2016. They matched the yellow theme of his nursery, but also… I LOVE LEMON.
Since then, these cupcakes have been baked many times in my oven, and many times from readers. There is just one giant warning I must give you before you go for triple gold.
It is imperative that you do not overfill the cupcake liners with this cupcake batter. They will sink.
Of course, there can be other reasons cupcakes don’t rise properly (bad ingredients, over-mixing), but this cupcake batter is sensitive. Aim for ½ to ⅔ of the way full. Perhaps test out 3 or 4 before baking the entire 12 count pan. But know that even if they do sink, they’re still perfectly tasty!
These amazingly lemony cupcakes always get lots of “oooh”s and “ahhhh”s and expletives (the good ones, of course), and one bite will make you wonder where they’ve been all your life.
Not only do we have the most tender cupcake that is bursting with lemon flavor and not at all overly sweet, there’s a tart, buttery lemon curd accent to each bite, all of which is topped off with a sweet and creamy buttercream with the softest hint of lemon to accompany it.
To make them even more lemony? Throw a lemon slice on top and zest some lemon peel right on top.
I wasn’t kidding when I said these are a lemon lover’s dream. All the heart eye emojis.
Perfect for summer, perfect for impressing your dessert guests, and perfect for any time you need a sunshine pick-me-up. And not to worry– if you don’t feel like making the lemon curd, you can always buy some (although I can tell you right now, it’s certainly not as tasty!) or just go without it.
Still tasty, but then you wouldn’t have perfect triple lemon cupcakes, and that sounds like such a sad sad cupcake world. Remember– go for gold and triple it! Lemon lovers unite!
Thursday #LemonWeek Recipes
- Double Lemon Glazed Cookies by House of Nash Eats
- Fish Fillets with Lemon Wine Sauce by That Recipe
- Spaghetti al Limone by A Day In The Life On The Farm
- Best Blueberry Lemon Scones by SueBee Homemaker
- Lemon Meltaway Cookies by Making Miracles
- Zesty Lemon Vinaigrette by Magical Ingredients
- Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting by Devour Dinner
Triple Lemon Cupcakes
- 1 and ½ cups (180g) all-purpose flour be sure to measure properly
- 2 and ½ teaspoons baking powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ cup (113g) unsalted butter softened to room temperature
- 1 cup (200g) granulated sugar
- 2 large eggs room temperature1
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- zest of 2 lemons
- ½ cup (120mL) fresh lemon juice2
- ½ cup milk3
- 6 Tablespoons (120g) homemade lemon curd store bought is fine
- ¾ cup (170g) unsalted butter softened to room temperature
- 3 cups (360g) powdered sugar
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- 3 Tablespoons (60g) homemade lemon curd store bought is fine
- 1 to 2 Tablespoons (15-30mL) milk or cream
- salt to taste
- Preheat the oven to 350ºF (177ºC). Line a 12 count cupcake pan with cupcake liners. Set aside.
- In a medium size bowl, toss together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
- In a large bowl with a handheld mixer or the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugar on medium-high speed until light and fluffy (about 3 minutes). Add each egg, one at a time, beating on medium-high speed until fully incorporated, scraping down the sides as necessary. Add the vanilla extract and lemon zest and beat again until combined.
- Stir the lemon juice into the milk. Scrape down the sides of the mixer bowl and turn the mixer speed to low. Add the flour in 2 additions, alternating with the milk/lemon juice. Remove bowl from mixer and stir with a spatula until everything is completely combined. Do not overmix this batter.
- Spoon batter evenly into prepared cupcake liners (I prefer to use an ice cream scoop with a trigger), being careful not to overfill the liners (I typically aim for filling ⅔ of the way full, using a scant scoop). Bake the cupcakes for 18-20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of a cupcake comes out clean. Remove from oven and allow to cool completely before filling.
- In a medium size bowl with a handheld mixer, or a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter on medium speed until creamy, about 2 minutes.
- With the mixer on low, add in the powdered sugar, vanilla, and lemon curd. Increase mixer speed to medium and beat until completely smooth, about 3 minutes. Add milk/cream to desired consistency, or you can opt to thin out the frosting with more lemon curd. Add salt to taste.
- For more buttercream troubleshooting tips, see my book, The Home Baker's Guide to Basic Buttercream.
FILL & ASSEMBLE CUPCAKES
- Using a sharp knife, cut a circle into the center top of each cupcake. I aim for about the diameter of a nickel and a depth of about ½". Spoon approximately 1 teaspoon of lemon curd into the hole and replace the piece of cupcake you removed. Push down gently. If some lemon curd spills out, that's ok.
- Frost the cupcakes using a large zip top bag with the corner snipped off or a pastry bag fitted with a tip of your choosing. Store cupcakes in the refrigerator up to 5 days. If you need to travel with and serve them, it's ok if they are at room temperature for awhile. Just be sure to refrigerate them to store them.
- Room temperature eggs: these incorporate into batter much more easily than cold eggs. Allow to sit at room temperature for 45 minutes. If you don’t have time, place eggs in a bowl of warm water for 10 minutes or until ready to use.
- Fresh lemon juice: do not use bottled lemon juice for these lemon cupcakes. You will need 2-3 lemons to yield ½ cup of juice.
- Milk: I strongly recommend you use whole milk for these cupcakes to impart the best texture with optimal moisture.
All nutritional values are approximate and provided to the reader as a courtesy. Changing ingredients and/or quantities will alter the estimated nutritional calculations.
A lemon favorite among readers: Lemon Truffles
And a whole slew of cupcakes for you to try!
These Mini Cookies & Cream ones are another reader favorite.
Wow! Oh my gosh, Lynn! These have got to be some of the best cupcakes! I’m a huge lemon fan (& cupcake fan!) so these were definitely made for me 🙂 I seriously have to make these soon!
You absolutely need to make these, Megan! They are going to be happening more this summer in my kitchen, I’m sure of it!
Wow Lynn, these lemon cupcakes look seriously magical. I just love the lemon curd filling inside! Wow! Pinned friend x
Thanks so much, friend!
A lemon lover’s dream, indeed! I was SO JEALY when I saw these cupcakes at your shower and heard all of the non-stop raving about how good they were (but not surprised! haha). I mean TRIPLE LEMON? Can’t go wrong there. No way. I will be adapting these to gluten-free ASAP. TOO GOOD.
You mustttttt! And I’m sure you would rock them!
These look delicious — so much tart citrus flavor. Can’t wait to give them a try!
The best! Love me some citrus!
How many cupcakes does this recipe yield?
12-14 cupcakes, as stated in the recipe! 🙂
Do you have any tips on turning these cupcakes into a cake? My husband loves lemon and I am thinking of a lemon cake for his birthday. Thanks
Great question, Courtney!
This cupcake recipe is actually very similar (almost identical) to my orange creamsicle layer cake recipe (https://freshaprilflours.com/2016/04/04/orange-creamsicle-layer-cake/).
If you double this cupcake recipe (including the frosting), you’ll have the recipe for a 2 layer 8″ or 9″ cake. I would be willing to bet the bake time would be the same for the lemon as it is for the orange creamsicle, so use that recipe as a guide!
Let me know if that doesn’t make sense or you have any questions. You can always email me directly– email@example.com!
Just baked these-the cupcakes were moist and light. Thanks:)
So glad you liked them, Faith!
Made for granddaughters graduation 5/2020..would not rise and would not get done..kept sticking back in oven.. baking powder fresh..weighed flour. I added zest with juice/milk was only deviation. What happened? Flavor so good
It is impossible for me to say what went wrong, but I’ve also used this base for my blueberry lemon cupcakes, and both recipes have always had good reports from bakers. I’m sorry I can’t be more helpful!
First time trying this recipe or actually anything from this blog (Hiiiii!). I only wanted the cake portion as I have a preferred ( and similar) lemon curd recipe and a request from the recipient for vanilla butter cream.
I too ended up with the same issue after having made a different recipe with the same fresh ingredients ( different amounts). I bake all the time too. They almost were more of a muffin texture unfortunately. It could be that my lemons were not very “lemony” but the cake itself did not taste like lemon and required the curd to make up for the lack of lemon flavor.
Lynn made easy to follow directions and beautiful pictures though!
Hmm, with the juice AND zest of two lemons spread over 12 cupcakes, that’s a lot of lemon flavor available! These cupcakes are on my list to revisit soon as a republish, so I’ll investigate. Though I do know I have had readers successfully bake these cupcakes. Thanks for the feedback!
I had the same result:(
Maxine, C, and Karin– I’ve officially updated this recipe and reworked it extensively to insure I knew what the issue was. It’s imperative that you only fill the liners 2/3 of the way full. Overfilling the liners will most definitely lead to a sunken cupcake. Bake time is 18-20 minutes for perfectly 2/3 of the way filled cupcake liners.
Though there are many great! components to this cupcake (refreshing flavor, ease of construction, hidden treasures – that curd is TO.DIE.FOR!) one of my favorite things is their appearance. Because this cupcake is so impressive, when I take them to functions, people think I slaved away at my oven and mixing bowl for hours. Not the case. Always a pleasure to bake and absolutely always a crowd pleaser!
I love this and appreciate you so much, Leigh! I worked hard to make this cupcake perfect, and I”m so glad you enjoy it so much 🙂
Very delicious! Reccomend.
Amazing!! Thanks for the recipe.
Super easy and fun to make.
A little heavy probably because I forgot to alternate wet and dry ingredients but they are delightfully lemony.
Turned out beautifully! I only used the cake and lemon curd from the recipe. I used my own buttercream.
These were really easy and great taste. I added a few drops of yellow food color in batter and frosting. Also, baking time a few minutes longer.
OH MY YUM….love that curd surprise inside. These are perfect for a baby shower or any Spring or Summer celebration. They may make an appearance over Memorial Day Weekend here.
The curd surprise is the best part!
I’m in heaven over these cupcakes. Oh the Lemon never ends and I need more!
These cupcakes are STUNNING. Mine never turn out as beautiful as yours do but they always taste amazing. That lemon curd filling is the BEST idea ever.
Haha, you are TOO SWEET, Amy! xo
The cupcakes are stunning, both in looks and flavors! This is a perfect dessert for lemon lovers. I need to try this soon. Thanks for sharing the recipe.
Do you think it would work subbing gluten free flour?
Hi, Caitlin– I have not personally tried these with a GF flour, but GF flours have come a long way, and any GF all-purpose flour that can be used 1:1 should work just fine here. Let me know how it works out if you try it!