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Lemon vanilla cupcakes

March 3, 2011

One thing that listening to the inner aesthete leads to is illogical decorations. All in the name of beauty. For example, these little lemon cupcakes were topped with one or two white chocolate buttons. These feature nowhere else in this recipe, nor do the ingredients even particularly lend themselves to white chocolate. However, balanced atop the lemon buttercream, they do make these little cupcakes look quite fanciful and delicate, as befits a lemony little cake. If you have no inner aesthete, don’t rush to follow me on this matter…

The original made FAR too much buttercream, I’ve adjusted this to be more sensible. Recipe from


 Makes 12

  • 225 g self-raising flour
  • 175 g golden caster sugar
  • zest 2 lemons 
  • 3 eggs
  • 100 g yogurt
  • 175 g melted butter
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract


  • 110g butter , softened
  • 200g icing sugar , sifted
  • juice 1/2 lemon
  • few drops yellow food colouring
  • white buttons to decorate (or sugar flowers)


Preheat the oven to 180 oC / gas 4. In one bowl, mix together the flour, sugar and lemon zest. In another, beat together the eggs and yoghurt, then mix in the melted butter and vanilla. Pour the wet mix into the dry and mix with an electric mixer until smooth. Divide the batter between the 12 cases (60-70% full) and bake for about 22 mins. At this time, check the cakes; if a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean and they bounce back lightly when pressed then they’re done. Leave on a wire cooling rack till completely cold. [Handy fact: if your oven was too hot like mine, you’ll get cracked tops on your cakes. Cook at a lower temp for a smooth dome].

To make the buttercream, take softened butter and sift the icing sugar slowly over it. Squeeze in the lemon juice and very slowly mix by hand. When the icing sugar is mainly mixed, switch to an electric mixer and beat until the buttercream is smooth and a bit like whipped cream. Mix in a few drops of yellow food colouring if desired. To decorate, take a palette knife and smooth an even layer over each cake. Finish by using a large star-shaped piping nozzle to create a small whirl on top, placing a couple of white buttons (or sugar flowers, if you have) into each to finish. Dust with icing sugar. These probably don’t constitute one of your 5 a day, but I won’t tell if you won’t.



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