What makes a cupcake the best? The word “best” is incredibly subjective, yet entirely appropriate for these lemon cupcakes. Laced with Meyer lemon zest and juice (use Meyer lemons if you can still find them), the cupcakes are wonderfully light and fluffy thanks to a combination of buttermilk and Greek yogurt.
I finished off the cupcakes with lemony swirls of buttercream. Flecked with Meyer lemon zest, the frosting tastes like sunlight (a must for those days when we need to create a little of our own sunshine). Though you’ll be tempted to eat it straight from the bowl, one spoonful at a time, be sure to save some for the cupcakes!
Best Lemon Cupcakes
2 1/3 cups cake flour*
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
5 Tbsp unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/4 cups plus 2 Tbsp sugar
1 Tbsp Meyer lemon zest
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1 cup low-fat buttermilk
6 Tbsp plain fat-free yogurt
2 Tbsp Meyer lemon juice
1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
pinch of salt
3 cups powdered sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 Tbsp Meyer lemon zest
1 Tbsp Meyer lemon juice
1 Meyer lemon, thinly sliced (for optional garnish)
Preheat oven to 350°F and line two 12-cup standard muffin pans with baking cups. Whisk together cake flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl. Beat butter and sugar in a large mixer bowl at medium speed until light and fluffy; beat in lemon zest and vanilla. Add eggs one at a time and beat until combined. Combine buttermilk, yogurt and lemon juice in a small bowl. Reduce speed to low and add flour mixture in 3 additions, alternating with buttermilk mixture (begin and end with flour mixture).
Divide batter evenly among cups (about 2/3 full) and bake for 15 minutes, until cupcakes are golden and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool for 2 minutes in pans on a wire rack, then carefully remove from pans and place them on the wire rack to cool completely.
To make buttercream, beat butter and salt in a large mixer bowl on medium speed until light and fluffy. Reduce speed to low; add powdered sugar 1/2 cup at a time and beat well, scraping down bowl as needed. Add vanilla, lemon zest, and lemon juice; beat on medium-high speed until light and airy. Fit a pastry bag with a 4B tip and pipe a spiral onto each cupcake; top with a lemon slice. Store leftover cupcakes in an airtight container in the refrigerator up to 2 days. Bring to room temperature before serving.
*Make your own cake flour: place 2 tablespoons cornstarch in an empty 1-cup measure, then top up with flour. Sift the mixture several times to evenly distribute the cornstarch.
Yield – 24 cupcakes
Calories – 250 (per cupcake)
Carbs – 36