Thursday, March 10, 2011

Lemon Buttercream & Vanilla Raspberry Cupcakes

I have never attempted to make cupcakes (or any cake) from scratch. Box cake has worked just fine for me in the past. This christmas I got a Kitchen-Aid Stand Mixer (red!) So I felt it was time to attempt some baking from scratch. I am the type of person that always over does things- this is how my brain works:
"Humm cupcakes would be a cute dessert, I could decorate them all pretty... I could try to make them from scratch that would be impressive... Lemon cupcakes sound yummy... So do vanilla... ehh vanilla is too plain... what about vanilla with strawberry raspberry filling- yea! Humm I should probably make home made buttercream too... oooo or I could buy fondant and make them look super cute and professional- ooo ooo and I could use the fondant to make tiny tiny flowers to put on the cupcakes! Yes ok that's what I'll do"
And that ladies and gentlemen is why I spent the better part of two days, baking frosting, filling and decorating cupcakes. My life was possessed with cupcakes for the entire week before. I poured over different recipes and decorating tips, and made obsessive shopping lists of ingredients and supplies that I would need. I'm pretty sure the topics of baking and cupcakes dominated most of the conversations that I had. I did all my shopping on Thursday night woke up Friday morning like a kid on Christmas- "Horay I get to bake cupcakes today!"

My plan was to bake the cupcakes on Friday and then frost and decorate them on Saturday. The baking part turned out to "easy" just time consuming (why do I always think that I need two different flavors?) I used a recipe by Amy Sedaris that was recommended on Miss Dot's Cupcake Spot

Vanilla Cupcakes
adapted from "I like You: Hospitality Under the Influence" by Amy Sedaris
Makes 24 cupcakes

1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter at room temperature
1 3/4 cups sugar
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
2 1/2 cups flour
1 cup milk 
2 tablespoons sour cream

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease or line a cupcake pan with paper liners

in a large bowl cream together butter and sugar. Beat in eggs one at a time. Add vanilla, salt, and baking powder.

Add flour in three batches, alternating with the milk. Mix until batter is smooth with no lumps, but do not over beat. (I'm not really sure how you would know if you over beat the batter, but this was in the original recipe so I included it!)

Divide batter evenly among cups, and bake for 18- 20 minutes or until tops are just golden and toothpick inserted into center comes out clean. Cool on rack to room temperature before frosting.

These tasted so amazing straight out of the oven, like most baked goods they were best the first day, but still pretty freaking tasty 4 days later. 

For the lemon cupcakes I used a well reviewed recipe from with a few tweaks. The batter for both  kids of cupcakes was much thicker and doughier than cake mix, and I could anticipate that pouring it into the cupcake pan would be an issue, so I scooped it into a large ziplock bag, cut about an inch off the corner and squeezed the batter into the cups. It was less of a mess and easier to control rather than trying to spoon in the sticky batter.

Lemon Cupcakes
adapted from
yield: 30 cupcakes

1 cup (2 sticks) butter at room temperature
2 cups sugar
3 eggs
the zest from one large lemon
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
3/4 cup milk
1 cup sour cream

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease or line a cupcake pan with paper liners

In a mixing bowl cream butter and sugar. Beat in eggs one at a time. Add lemon zest and vanilla and mix well.

In a medium bowl combine dry ingredients. Add to butter and sugar mixture in two or three batches, alternating with milk and sour cream.

Fill cups 2/3rds full, and bake for 25- 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into center comes out clean. Cool completely before frosting.

When I tasted the batter I was afraid that I had made the cupcakes too lemony but once they were baked they tasted perfect- they could even had been a little more lemony.

Day Two: With all my cupcakes lined up I got set up to fill and frost. First I made my favorite strawberry raspberry filling for them. Its really easy and you can get the recipe here. Then I used this nifty little tool called a cupcake corer to take the middle out of the cupcakes. I got it for 4 dollars at Great News, a cooking supply store in Pacific Beach. Then I spooned the filling into the cupcakes and replaced the tops.

The cupcakes were finally ready to be decorated! I spread a thin layer of buttercream on top and then smoothed on the fondant. (I bought the fondant at a baking store and it actually tasted good! I had heard a lot of bad things about fondant before but it just mixed in with the buttercream taste and was super yummy.)  

Last I used a fine tip and pink decorator icing to drawl swirls on the cupcakes.

All done?? Nopeeee I still had to ice the lemon cupcakes. I tried to make homemade lemon buttercream frosting and while it tasted really good it didn't have the consistency that I had hoped for. By this point I really didn't care to try a different recipe so I said to hell with it and just frosted them. (So that's why there isn't a frosting recipe here. Sigh.) Then used a mini flower cutter to make flowers with the fondant scraps leftover from the other cupcakes. 

Phew. By the end of this I was all cupcaked out but it was well worth it. The cupcakes were a hit at brunch- Look they match my table and my flowers! (Yep that's right I color coordinated everything. I can get obsessive about making everything perfect. It can get really exhausting) My friend Liz put a picture of the table on facebook with this caption "Christie makes THE BEST cupcakes straight from the heavens" I'm pretty sure that's the best review I could ever ask for!

Now that I know what I'm doing it don't think it will be so overwhelming next time, but I think from now on I'll try to limit myself to just one flavor of cupcakes. I definitely want to learn more about using fondant since it was actually really easy to work with. Also I'm fully on the filled cupcake bandwagon- its not too much effort and really took the cupcakes to the next level! After quite the sugary weekend I've decided its only fitting that I give up sweets/desserts/candy for lent. Its definitely going to long time till Easter...


  1. Wow, such tasty looking cupcakes with a fantastic surprise waiting in the middle. I have a sweet treat linky party going on at my blog and I'd like to invite you to stop by and link your cupcakes up.

  2. They look fab and delicious! Wish I could frost that well!

  3. You make it look so easy...! :)
    They are gorgeous!

  4. You did a great job! They are so pretty, I love the different ways you frosted them. And I am the same way when I'm excited to bake's all I think about until it's done!

  5. those look really good, even if you weren't crazy about the consistency. i'm totally sold. i have the WORST shaky hand and could never make pretty little swirls like that. i'm thinkin' i might have to make that lemon cupcake recipe!

    i found you at sweets for saturday.. looks great. visit or see my entry:
    creamy strawberry crepes!

  6. Hi Christie! Your blog is adorable! Your cousin Sarah (we both live in Atlanta) suggested I check it out. Great job!! xoxo, Patti

  7. Love the beautiful pink frosted design on it !

  8. Hi, my name is Jackie and I'm the baker behind Galexi Cupcakes & Sweets. I just discovered your blog and I think its great. I'm also from NYC, now living in Warwick, NY. I love the way these cupcakes talk to me, LOL.. Thank you for sharing. I hope we can be friends and share recipes back and fourth. Welcome to the blogging world!!

  9. By the way, here is the correct link to my blog. Feel free to visit

  10. how do you get your cupcakes to come out so round?

  11. I use an ice cream scoop to scoop the batter into the cupcake cups- I'm not sure if that helps with the roundness- but it makes it so they all come out the exact same size. The other technique i'll use is to put all the batter into a large ziplock back and cut the corner off then pipe them into the cups, but I prefer the ice cream scoop!

  12. can you replace something for the sour cream??

  13. wow they look beautiful did you put our oven on fan forced. They look beautiful

  14. i have to tell you, i stumbled upon your blog while looking for a great cupcake recipe, and with the many glowing reviews, i picked yours. my kitchen smells phenomenal and i haven't even put them in the oven yet! well done!

  15. Hey this looks great how many cups or grams is an American stick butter :)