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Spring baking: Lemon vanilla cupcakes

Lemon juice and zest give light and fluffy vanilla cupcakes a bright, fresh flavor that's perfect for spring.
Lemon juice and zest give light and fluffy vanilla cupcakes a bright, fresh flavor that's perfect for spring.
Photo by Michelle Hein

These light and fluffy vanilla cupcakes are perfect for spring. The addition of lemon juice and lemon zest give them a bright, fresh flavor that’s fitting for warm sunny days. Buttercream frosting with more lemon zest tops the cupcakes for extra sweetness … with a bit of citrus tang.


  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • Zest of one lemon (about 1 Tablespoon)
  • 1 cup cake flour
  • 1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup milk (2% used here)
  • 1/3 cup fresh-squeezed lemon juice

Preheat oven to 350°F and line muffin pans with cupcake liners.

Cream butter and sugar using an electric mixer.

Add eggs, one at a time, beating after each egg.

Add vanilla, baking powder and lemon zest to mixture. Mix to combine.

In a small bowl, combine flours.

Combine the milk and lemon juice and alternately add the flour and the liquid to the batter, beginning and ending with the flour.

Fill lined cupcake tins with batter. You should have about 20 cupcakes.

Bake for 15-18 minutes, until tooth pick inserted comes out clean.

Allow to cool 10 minutes in pan before transferring to a cooling rack.


  • 1-1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 4 cups powdered sugar
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • Zest of one lemon (about 1 Tablespoon)
  • 1 Tablespoon fresh-squeezed lemon juice

Cream the butter on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes.
Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the powdered sugar, about 1/2
cup at a time, until thoroughly mixed.

Add the vanilla, lemon juice and zest. Mix well.

Decorate cupcakes as desired.

Shopping and presentation tips: For easy and beautiful piping of frosting, try the Dessert Decorator Plus or Pro made by Wilton. Easy-to-use, these tools are well worth the price for any regular baker. You can find these decorating tools at craft stores such as the A.C. Moore on Street Road in Bensalem, PA. Be sure to check for a coupon to get the best deal.

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To see all of the recipes I’ve shared and other food-related articles, visit my Bucks County Food Page. You’ll find other creative cupcake recipes such as Chocolate Hazelnut Cupcakes and Fudge Stripe Cookie Cupcakes. If you’d like to read my articles focused on Bucks County restaurants, you can also subscribe to my Bucks County Restaurant page.

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