Lemon Cupcake Recipe

Fancy something lemony? Does a lemon drizzle cake feels like a bit too much effort (or you couldn’t eat a whole one)? Bake a batch of these scrummy, zingy lemon cupcakes instead. Our lemon cupcake recipe will result in incredibly light, airy and springy sponge. The buttercream icing and secret surprise of lemon curd in the centre means these are divine.

This recipe is lemony, but certainly not ‘a lemon’!

Why this Lemon Cupcake Recipe works…

I think it strikes the right balance between sweet and zesty. If you go too far with the lemon you can wince from the sharpness. That’s not what we’re going for here.

The sponge is super-delicate but it doesn’t crumble when you add the lemon curd or put the icing on.

Cupcake Ingredients

  • 115g unsalted butter, softened
  • 150g granulated sugar
  • 2 large free-range eggs, room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon lemon zest (about 1 lemon)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 60 ml fresh lemon juice (about 1 lemon)
  • 60 ml milk, room temperature
  • 195g) plain flour
  • 1.5 teaspoons baking powder
  • Pinch of salt
  • 170g lemon curd (homemade or shop-bought)

Icing Ingredients

  • 225g unsalted butter, softened
  • Pinch of salt
  • 420g icing sugar
  • 1 tablespoon lemon zest (about 1 lemon)
  • 60 ml fresh lemon juice (about 1 lemon)

Cupcake Instructions

Preheat the oven to 180C (350F). Line a 12-cup baking or muffin tray with cupcake cases.

In your favourite large mixing bowl, beat the granulated sugar and butter together for about 5 minutes or until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing them in well.

Take the lemon zest and the vanilla extract, add to the bowl and stir well.

Mix together the lemon juice and the milk in a small jug.

In a slightly smaller mixing bowl, combine the flour, baking powder and salt. Stir with a whisk. Alternate adding this to the butter mixture with the milk mixture. A little bit at a time, beating after each addition.

Share the cake batter evenly between the 12 prepared cupcake cases.

Bake for 18-20 minutes until golden brown. The toothpick test can help determine if it is ready or not. Stick a toothpick into the centre of the cake, if it comes out clean (i.e. no mixture on it), it is baked.

Leave to cool in the baking tray for 10 minutes. Remove and cool on wire rack.

When cool, cut out the centre of each of the cupcakes and fill with lemon curd.

Icing Instructions

Ideally you’d use an electric hand mixer or a stand mixer for this part.

Beat the butter on medium-high speed until smooth/no lumps.

Add a pinch of salt and continue to beat with the mixer. Following this, add the icing sugar. Continue to beat on a medium-low speed until you can see that the icing sugar has begun to moisten.

Beat in the lemon zest and remaining sugar.

Now, depending on how creamy you want your buttercream icing to be, here you can add 2-3 tablespoons of lemon juice. Crack the speed back up to medium-high and continue to beat until light and fluffy.

My Top Tips for this Lemon Cupcake Recipe!

When creaming the butter and the sugar together, mix for at least 5 minutes but ideally 10. This will mean the cupcakes are guaranteed to be light and fluffy.

If you can make the lemon curd yourself, do so – the cakes will feel even more special!

These cupcakes can be made 24 hours in advance of when you need them. Put them in an airtight container and store at room temperature. The icing can be made in advance too, but keep this in the fridge.

If you decide to make a giant batch, good news! This lemon cupcake recipe allows the cakes to be frozen for up to 3 months.

For another citrus-vibe treat, try my chocolate orange cupcakes here :-)

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