After my friend Caitlin ate one of these cupcakes, she told me she would have my babies for me.
That’s pretty serious stuff. An offer to be my baby momma? Just because of a cupcake?
I made them for our store manager at Victoria’s Secret because it was her birthday, and a birthday without cupcakes is a sad birthday indeed. It was the easiest birthday assignment ever because Celeste told me she loved strawberry and lemon flavors. So pretty much the only decision was between a strawberry cake/lemon frosting and lemon cake/strawberry frosting…
I adapted some Martha Stewart lemon cupcakes, which baked up a little flat on top – but they made up for it by being pillowy soft and full of lemon flavor. I spread a little lemon curd on top of each cupcake, then piped on one of the most glorious frostings I have ever made. I used Jamie’s “Sensational Strawberry Frosting” recipe from My Baking Addiction, and it was sensational and then some. This stuff tastes like strawberry ice cream…super smooth and super creamy.
Celeste was super happy to receive and then eat them, and really, that’s all that matters when you’re making birthday treats. All in all, these are perfect birthday cupcakes! Pink and yellow and bursting with flavor, they’re pretty much like sunshine in a cupcake wrapper. With sprinkles.
Lemon Cupcakes with Strawberry Frosting
Makes 24 cupcakes with some extra frosting, which you’ll be happy to have
3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 TBS baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup (= 2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 cups granulated sugar
3 TBS grated lemon zest, from about 4 lemons
2 TBS fresh lemon juice
4 large eggs, at room temperature
1 tsp vanilla extract or Buttery Sweet Dough emulsion
1 cup well-shaken buttermilk
(Note: frosting will need to be refrigerated for about 1 hour if you’re planning on piping it.)
1 cup strawberries, tops cut off
1 cup (= 2 sticks) unsalted butter, soft but still cool
2 8-oz packages cream cheese, soft but still cool
1 tsp vanilla extract
32 oz (= 2 pounds) powdered sugar (stop looking at me like that, this isn’t diet food)
about 1/3 cup your favorite lemon curd (I like My Baking Addiction’s Microwave Lemon Curd…can you tell how much I love MBA?)
1. For cupcakes – Preheat oven to 325ºF and line a muffin tin with cupcake liners. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
2. In a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the sugar and lemon zest. Work the sugar and zest together with your fingers until it’s fragrant and a uniform color, like we did with the orange muffins. Add the butter and beat on medium-high speed until fluffy and creamy, about 3 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating on medium speed for at least 30 seconds after each addition. Beat in the vanilla/emulsion and lemon juice and scrape down the sides of the bowl.
3. Add the dry ingredients in 3 additions, alternating with the buttermilk (begin and end with dry). Beat on low speed after each addition just to incorporate the ingredients. Scrape down the bowl as needed.
4. Divide the batter evenly among the lined muffin cups, filling them about 3/4 full. Bake cupcakes, rotating the tin halfway through, for about 22 to 25 minutes. Cool cupcakes in the pan completely on wire rack, then remove cupcakes. Unfrosted, they can be stored in an airtight container overnight or wrapped tightly and frozen for up to 2 months. (Uhh…frozen cupcakes are surprisingly delicious, just FYI.)
5. For frosting – While the cupcakes are cooling, make frosting! In a blender or a small food process, purée the strawberries until smooth. Set aside.
6. In a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the butter on medium-high speed until creamy. Add the cream cheese and beat until smooth and fluffy, about 1 to 2 minutes. Beat in the vanilla and 6 TBS of the strawberry puree (use the rest as a smoothie starter!). Gradually add the powdered sugar, beating on low speed to avoid getting a powdered sugar shower. Once all the sugar has been incorporated, beat for about a minute on medium-high speed to make sure it’s smooth. If piping, cover and refrigerate for about an hour before using. If spreading, you can use it right away, or chill it if you’re not ready.
7. Assemble cupcakes – Spread about 3/4-ish tsp (more or less to personal taste) lemon curd on each cupcake. Pipe or spread on the strawberry frosting (be generous…everyone will want more!). Don’t get upset if the lemon curd and the frosting get a little mixed up. It will still be mouthwateringly delicious. Cupcakes should be stored in the fridge until you’re ready to serve them.
You need this combination of flavors in your mouth, stat. I know it may be too hot to turn on the oven, but believe me…these are worth it. Thanks for reading, happy baking!