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A light and fluffy lemon cupcake recipe topped with a swirl of creamy berry buttercream! Perfect for summer get togethers!
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I don’t know about you but I was never much of a lemon dessert person. Then for some odd reason as of late, I’m like more lemon please! The more lemon, the better.
And summer and lemon just go together don’t you think?
I think so too.
Ingredients For These Lemon Cupcakes With Berry Buttercream
For the cupcakes:
- Dry Ingredients – You will need cake flour, baking powder and salt. Just measure and whisk them together in a bowl.
- Wet Ingredients – You will need unsalted butter, granulated sugar, eggs (1 whole egg + 1 egg white), milk, vanilla, and fresh lemon zest.
For the frosting:
- Unsalted butter: I always recommend using unsalted butter vs. salted butter so you can control the amount of salt.
- Powdered sugar: Or confectioners sugar (or icing sugar). I don’t sift mine in as I find that as long as I mix it long enough I don’t have lumps.
- Heavy cream: This helps thin out the frosting, and add some richness, but milk would also work.
- Vanilla: Pure vanilla is best since the frosting isn’t a baked item and this will give your frosting the best flavor.
- Berries –You can use fresh or frozen. You’re going to cook down the berries to get rid of some of the liquid and then fold that puree into your buttercream.
How To Make The Lemon Cupcakes
This cupcake starts with whisking your dry ingredients- cake flour, baking powder, and salt.
If you don’t have cake flour on hand, here is a step by step tutorial on how to make your own! Cake flour has a lower protein content than all purpose flour so it results in less gluten being formed which means a lighter more tender cupcake!
In your stand mixer you will cream your butter and sugar. Be sure that your butter is at room temperature (between 65ºF and 67ºF). Your finger should be able to indent your finger into the butter. If you need to soften your butter quickly, here are 3 ways to do that.
Once your butter and sugar has been properly creamed add your egg and egg white. Be sure that your eggs are also at room temperature.
Now just add your vanilla extract and lemon zest.
When you go to add your dry ingredients, you want to add them alternately with the milk. It’s best to use whole milk if you can because the fat adds richness to the cupcake. But I’ve made them with all kinds of milk (even almond or soy will work fine as well).
Then go ahead and scoop your batter into your pans and bake
How To Make The Berry Buttercream
Now. Time. For. Frosting. This cupcake is topped with my favorite vanilla buttercream frosting. It requires a long time in your stand mixer to achieve a fluffy creamy texture.
To make this buttercream, mixed berry, you will cook down your berries with a bit of sugar. You can use fresh or frozen for this. You could even stick to strawberries, or raspberries, or whatever combination you like!
Then you want to smash all those berries through a fine mesh sieve or cheesecloth to get rid of all those pesky seeds. It won’t look like much puree in the end compared to the amount of berries you started with, but trust me, a little goes a long way.
If you want that perfect bakery swirl on top, you can read this post on how to frost the perfect cupcake– I’ve even included a video for you as well. For these, I used this Atecco tip.
- Be sure to measure your flour correctly. If measuring by volume, then make sure to spoon and level the flour in. You can read my post here on how to measure your flour correctly. Or for best accuracy I recommend weighing your ingredients. You can read my post on how to measure ingredients here <– there’s a video too!
- Make sure your ingredients are room temperature. Especially your eggs. To bring your eggs to room temperature quickly, simply place the eggs into a bowl of warm water for 10 minutes.
- Use an large cookie scoop for even scooping. I use an ice-cream scoop like this one from OXO to scoop my cupcake batter. It makes quick work of scooping the batter and ensures all my cupcakes are the same size and bake evenly.
- Do not overfill your cupcake liners when scooping the batter. You want your liners about 3/4 full. Overfilled cupcakes can result in the cupcakes sinking after you baking them. Read this post for 6 reasons why your cupcakes sink in the middle.
- Double check that your baking powder is still fresh. Because this recipe uses melted butter there is no creaming step to incorporate air, so you need to make sure the baking powder is fresh so your cupcakes rise properly. To check the freshness, add a teaspoon of baking powder to some hot water. If it bubbles, it’s still fresh. If it doesn’t throw it out. And don’t mix it up with baking soda, they don’t react the same. You can read more here about Baking Powder vs. Baking Soda
- Use an oven thermometer. Make sure that your oven is heated correctly so these bake properly. For more oven 101, read this post.
Can I Use All-Purpose Flour?
You can use all-purpose flour but your cupcakes won’t be quite as light and fluffy. Or you can make your own Cake Flour. Again, it won’t be quite the same as store-bought will be a close second.
Can I Make These Cupcakes Ahead Of Time?
Absolutely you can! These cupcakes can be made and filled, without buttercream, one day in advance, and kept covered at room temperature. Buttercream can be made 3 days in advance and kept in the refrigerator. Bring cupcakes, and frosting to room temperature before frosting. Nobody wants to eat a cold stick of butter and that’s what the frosting will taste like unless it’s softened again.
Or store leftover cupcakes in the refrigerator for 3 days.
Can I Freeze These Cupcakes?
You can also freeze frosted or unfrosted cupcakes up to 2-3 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator before enjoying. Before serving I let them sit at room temperature to let the buttercream soften again before enjoying. Click here for a full tutorial on how to freeze cupcakes.
Can I Use Low Fat Milk To These Cupcakes?
I do recommend using whole milk for the best taste and texture, but you can use a low fat milk if that’s all you have. I haven’t tested it with plant-based milk such as almond or soy, but I think they would also work. I just would make sure to use a plain, unsweetened plant-based milk.
Why did my cupcakes sink in the middle?
This might be because you underbaked them, or overfilled them. I fill mine about 2/3 to 3/4 full to allow them to expand. You can read more here about Why Do Cupcakes Sink?
More Cupcake Recipes To Try:
- My easy Vanilla Cupcake Recipe
- Peanut Butter Banana Cupcakes
- Easy Pumpkin Cupcakes (Small Batch)
- Easy Chocolate Cupcakes
- Red Velvet Cupcake Recipe
- Cookie Dough Cupcakes
- Peanut Butter Cupcakes (with marshmallow frosting)
- Cupcake Pans – My favorite cupcake pans are these ones from Wilton and these ones from Chicago Metallic.
- Large Piping Tips – To get those professional looking cupcakes you need large cupcake tips. You could get a set like this one, or individual cupcake tips from Ateco (which are the ones I own).
- Greaseproof Cupcake Liners– I love the greaseproof ones so they still look nice after baking.
- Piping bags – You can use reusable piping bags or disposable piping bags (which is my preference). I prefer to use the 18-inch bags so I do not have to refill as often!
Lemons. Berries. Helloooooo summer. All that is missing is my flip flops and a cold glass of Sangria.
If you like this lemon cupcake recipe, let me know and leave me a rating and comment!
Lemon Cupcakes with Berry Buttercream
- 1 1/4 cups (150 g) cake flour
- 1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
- 1/4 tsp. salt
- 3/4 cup (131 g) granulated sugar
- 6 Tbs. (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1 whole egg plus 1 egg white at room temperature
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup (120 mL) whole milk
- zest of 2 lemons
For the frosting
- 2 1/2 sticks (1 1/4 cups) unsalted butter softened
- 2 1/2 cups (283 g) confectioner sugar (aka powdered or icing)
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 2 Tbs. heavy cream
- 1 cup (142 g) mixed berries fresh or frozen
- 1 Tbs. sugar
- 12 fresh raspberries for garnish
For the cupcakes
- Preheat an oven to 350°F. Line a standard 12-cup muffin pan with paper or foil liners.
- In a bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt.
- In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat together the sugar and butter on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes.
- Reduce the speed to low and add the egg and egg white one at a time, beating well after each addition, then beat in the vanilla and the lemon zest.
- Add the flour mixture in 3 additions, alternating with the milk in 2 additions, beating until just combined; scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed. Increase the speed to medium-high and beat just until no traces of flour remain, about 30 seconds; do not overbeat.
- Divide the batter evenly among the prepared muffin cups, filling each about three-fourths full. Bake until the cupcakes are lightly golden on top and a toothpick inserted into the center of a cupcake comes out clean, 18 to 20 minutes. Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let cool for 5 minutes. Then transfer the cupcakes to the rack and let cool completely, about 1 hour.
- Frost the cupcakes with the buttercream. (The frosted cupcakes can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 3 days; bring to room temperature before finishing.) Garnish the cupcakes with a fresh raspberry. Makes 12 cupcakes.
For the buttercream
- In a saucepan over medium heat, cook the berries and sugar together. Use a wooden spoon to break the berries apart.
- Simmer until significantly reduced — you should have about ⅓ cup of liquid.
- Remove from the heat. Using a fine mesh sieve or cheese cloth, push the berries through the sieve set over the bowl to get rid of the seeds. Let the puree cool before adding it to your buttercream.
- With a mixer, cream the butter together with the powdered sugar. Add in your vanilla extract, heavy cream, and cooled berries.
- Mix on medium-high for about 8 minutes until light and fluffy. Frost your cupcakes with a spatula or piping bag fit with a star tip. Top with a fresh raspberry.
- Tools: Cupcake Pans | Large Piping Tips | Greaseproof Cupcake Liners | Piping bags
- Flour: You can use all-purpose flour but your cupcakes won't be quite as light and fluffy. Or you can make your own Cake Flour. Again, it won't be quite the same as store-bought will be a close second.
- Storage/Make Ahead: These cupcakes can be made and filled, without buttercream, one day in advance, and kept covered at room temperature. Buttercream can be made 3 days in advance and kept in the refrigerator. Bring cupcakes, and frosting to room temperature before frosting. Or store leftover cupcakes in the refrigerator for 3 days.
- Freezing: You can also freeze frosted or unfrosted cupcakes up to 2-3 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator before enjoying. Before serving I let them sit at room temperature to let the buttercream soften again before enjoying. Click here for a full tutorial on how to freeze cupcakes.
- Milk substitute: I do recommend using whole milk for the best taste and texture, but you can use a low fat milk if that’s all you have. I haven't tested it with plant-based milk such as almond or soy, but I think they would also work. I just would make sure to use a plain, unsweetened plant-based milk.