These simple lemon cupcakes with lemon buttercream frosting are a sweet zesty snack and great if you need a mid-afternoon pick-me-up. They're easy to make and perfect with afternoon tea too!
A few years ago one of my most exciting Christmas presents was a set of icing nozzles and piping bag. It wasn't exciting because I'd requested it but because it was so unexpected while at the same time the perfect present. At the time I wasn't much of a baker and it opened up a whole new realm of baking and cake decorating.
Do you get put off baking because you're not neat and tidy in the kitchen?
I'm not one of the tidiest or neatest people in terms of food presentation. Trust me, this is not an area I naturally excel in. I cook much more savoury food and unless I want to write the recipe up afterwards, I very rarely weigh or measure anything. I just throw in however much of something feels right.
When I first started baking I did follow recipes though. I was too scared to be inventive as I thought baking was too exact a science. Times have changed though and now I feel much more confident to drastically adapt recipes and really make them my own.
This lemon buttercream was perfect for testing out my new piping bag!
However, when I first received my piping nozzles I was firmly in a follow the recipe mode. These simple lemon cupcakes with lemon buttercream frosting were actually the first thing I made to test out my piping bag.
That was a few years ago and I still don't do a lot of piping but I do do much more baking. My two Little Spices love lemon flavoured cakes and I've made a few lemon recipes over the last couple of years such as this olive oil lemon drizzle cake and these dairy free lemon muffins.
My favourite baking book for beginners like me!
Neither of those lemony bakes are topped with lemon buttercream although they do both have a drizzle! You see, I normally try to make healthier bakes for my family but every so often I want to experiment. And that is what this recipe is. Well, an experiment in technique rather than in the recipe.
The recipe is from Step-by-Step Baking by Caroline Bretherton. This book used to be my go-to recipe book when I first started baking. I've made so many delicious things from it. If you're a beginner and want a baking book with easy-to-follow instructions then it's definitely a book I'd recommend.
How to make sure you get smooth buttercream
The two most important things to do are to use a food processor or kitchen aid and to sift the icing sugar. I've tried to beat the butter and icing sugar by hand but it is difficult to get it really smooth. Also, if you are making the lemon buttercream by hand, sifting the icing sugar first really makes this step easier.
Do you need to have perfect piping skills?
Not at all! Just look at my piping skills. They definitely still need improvement. As you can see, the lemon buttercream is not perfectly piped. It is however, totally delicious! The lemon cupcakes are deliciously moist and the lemon buttercream is smooth and zesty.
Tips to make the piping easier
If the buttercream frosting is at room temperature it will pipe more easily so if you make it in advance, make sure it is not too cold when you begin piping.
Hold the piping bag vertical pointing directly down onto the cupcakes.
Try to be confident and move the bag smoothly. Trust me, it does help - the first cupcakes I iced were much messier than these!
What are these lemon cupcakes like?
Well, I have written so much about piping the buttercream I've almost forgotten to tell you just how good these lemon cupcakes are! They are deliciously lemony from the lemon juice and the zest in the cupcake batter. Because they are in cupcake form they are just the right size for an individual sweet snack too!
Can you adapt this lemon cupcake recipe?
If you want to switch things up a bit why not make these with orange or lime instead? They'd be just as good.
If you're not a huge fan of buttercream then just top them with a simple lemon drizzle instead.
Simple Lemon Cupcakes with Lemon Buttercream
Ingredients for the lemon cupcakes
- 200 g plain flour
- 100 g unsalted butter softened and cut into cubes
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 200 g caster sugar
- ½ tsp salt
- 3 eggs
- 150 ml milk
- 1 lemon zest and juice
Ingredients for the lemon buttercream
- 200 g icing sugar
- 100 g unsalted butter
- 1 lemon zest and juice
- Heat the oven to 180C
- Sift the flour and baking powder into a bowl and then add the butter, the sugar and the salt. Mix together. I used my fingers, a bit like making pastry, until it was like fine breadcrumbs.
- In another bowl add the milk to the eggs and whisk together. Then add this mixture to the first bowl, along with the lemon juice and zest. Whisk everything together.
- Put the cupcake paper cases into cupcake trays and fill each one halfway with the mixture.
- Bake for about 20-25 minutes at about 180C.
- Ideally use a kitchen aid to beat the sugar and icing sugar together. If you don't have one you can cream them together instead. Add a third of the icing sugar to the butter at a time. Add the lemon zest and juice and mix in well.
- When the cupcakes have cooled, either spread the icing on top or use a piping bag.
If you like these cupcakes how about one of these recipes?
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Keep in Touch
Do let me know if you make this. Or any of the other recipes here on Searching for Spice. You can leave a comment below!
Places I'm sharing these simple lemon cupcakes
Cook Once Eat Twice here at Searching for Spice