Homemade lemon cupcakes are light and fluffy and topped with berry Swiss meringue buttercream. The spring weather is perfect for whipping up a batch!
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You are going to love these homemade lemon cupcakes! The crumb is so tender and light with the perfect hint of lemon. I topped them with a blueberry Swiss meringue buttercream, but have also paired them with raspberry Swiss meringue. They'd also be fabulous with vanilla, cream cheese or a lemon buttercream.
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MAKING THE CUPCAKES
These lemon cupcakes get their super fluffy and light texture from the cake flour, egg whites and buttermilk. You'll want to bring the cold ingredients to room temperature so they fully incorporate in the batter. So plan to let your cold ingredients sit out at least an hour or two prior to starting.
I also LOVE using my SideSwipe blade on my Kitchen Aid mixer. It creams the ingredients to the most incredible fluffy consistency.
For this recipe, you will measure your cake flour, using the spoon and level technique. Then you will want to sift the cake flour together with the baking powder and salt and set them aside. I find sifting the cake flour helps to eliminate any clumps that may have developed in the flour. I absolutely love using Bob's Red Mill's Super-fine Cake Flour.
After preparing all your ingredients, you will start by creaming together the room temperature butter and both granulated and brown sugars. Make sure you get them nice and fluffy. Then you will add in the egg whites and vanilla and incorporate them fully.
Next, you will add half the flour mixture followed by the buttermilk, lemon zest and lemon juice. I like using fresh lemons to get the juice, just be sure to zest the lemon first as it's much easier than after you juice it. I wouldn't know that from experience or anything!😉😉 Then you'll finish by adding the second half of the flour mixture. Have your mixer on the lowest setting as you do not want to over-mix this batter.
Fill your cupcake liners (these are my absolute favorite) ⅔ - ¾ of the way full. Approximately ¼ cup of batter per liner and bake for approximately 15-17 minutes. Allow to cool completely before frosting.
MAKING THE BERRY SWISS MERINGUE BUTTERCREAM
Swiss meringue buttercream has come to be my go-to frosting choice most of the time. I know it's more time consuming and technical to make, but it is SO worth it and people ALWAYS comment on how light and delicious the frosting is.
You start by wiping down your mixer bowl, mixer whisk and the whisk you will be using while you warm the egg whites, sugar and salt mixture. I typically use white vinegar, but lemon juice works too. This is a step that I never skip. You don't want even a trace of fat on anything coming in contact with your meringue so that you get the best stiff peaks when whipping your meringue.
Next separate the eggs and combine the egg whites, granulated sugar and salt in your mixer bowl. Whisk them together and place over a bowl of simmering water. You will whisk constantly for about 3 minutes or until the sugar is fully melted and the mixture is a bit frothy. Rub a little of the mixture between your fingers to make sure there is no grittiness left from the sugar. When the mixture is hot to the touch and no longer gritty, pull it off the heat.
Next, with the stand mixer on medium-high (I go to 8 on my Kitchen Aid), whisk the egg mixture until the meringue holds stiff peaks. This typically takes my mixer around 10 minutes. If the mixture is still a little warm, let it cool a few more minutes before adding your butter.
Switch your mixer to the paddle attachment and turn the speed down to 4 or 6. Add the room temperature butter (see recipe notes for correct temperature) one tablespoon at a time, letting each tablespoon fully incorporate before adding the next one. The mixture will go through several changes - looking soupy at one point and curdled close to the addition of the final tablespoons of butter. Do not worry, if you had a good meringue to start, you are going to be fine!
Once all the butter is fully incorporated, stop the mixer and scrape up and down the sides of your bowl. Add the almond extract and ground freeze dried berries (if using raspberries I sift out the seeds after they have been ground to powder), then turn the mixer back up to 8 or 10 and walk away! Give it about 5 minutes of whipping and when you return you will have a beautiful, silky buttercream.
Once the homemade lemon cupcakes are fully cooled, frost as desired. I used a Wilton 1M tip for these.
As an alternative, you can also frost the cupcakes with my lemon buttercream frosting. ⬇️
Homemade Lemon Cupcakes with Berry Swiss Meringue Buttercream
- 1 ½ cups cake flour measured and then sifted, I prefer Bob's Red Mill Super-Fine Cake Flour
- 1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ cup unsalted butter room temperature
- ½ cup granulated sugar
- ¼ cup brown sugar
- 2 large egg whites
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- ½ cup buttermilk room temperature
- 1 teaspoon lemon zest about one lemon
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice about one lemon
Berry Swiss Meringue Buttercream
- 3 large egg whites
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¾ cup 1 ½ sticks butter, room temperature*
- ½ teaspoon pure almond extract
- 1 ounce freeze dried blueberries or raspberries*** ground to powder
For the Cupcakes:
- Preheat oven to 350°F and place cupcake liners in a 12 count muffin pan. Set aside.
- Measure the cake flour and then sift the flour, baking powder and salt together. Set aside.
- Using a stand mixer with the paddle attachment or a hand mixer, beat the butter and both sugars together on high speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Scrape up and down the sides of the bowl as needed.
- Beat in the egg whites and vanilla and mix until well combined, about 2 minutes. Scrape up and down the sides of the bowl.
- With the mixer on low speed, add half the flour mixture and mix until barely combined. With the mixer still on low, add the buttermilk, lemon zest and lemon juice. Once mostly combined, add in the remainder of the flour mixture and mix just until combined. You do not want to over-mix this batter.
- Scoop the batter into the prepared muffin pan. It’s approximately ¼ cup of batter per cupcake. You want the liner filled about ⅔ – ¾ of the way.
- Bake for about 15-17 minutes, until a tester comes out mostly clean.
- Allow cupcakes to cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then remove from the pan to cool completely on a wire cooling rack.
For the Berry Swiss Meringue Buttercream
- Wipe the bowl and whisk of your stand mixer with vinegar or lemon juice to make sure it is grease free or your egg whites may not stiffen.
- Whisk egg whites, sugar and salt in the bowl of your stand mixer. Whisk and heat mixture over a saucepan of simmering water until hot to touch, sugar is fully dissolved (you should not feel any granules when rubbed between your fingers) and it’s a bit frothy, approximately 3 minutes.
- Remove the bowl from the saucepan and wipe the bottom dry. Place on your stand mixer and whisk on medium-high until the mixture is cool and the meringue holds a stiff peak (the bottom of your bowl should also be cooled), approximately 10 minutes.
- Switch to the paddle attachment and reduce the speed to medium. Add the butter, one tablespoon at a time, letting the butter fully incorporate before adding more. ** Once all butter is incorporated, scrape down sides of the bowl and add almond extract and powdered blueberries and whip until a thick, whipped consistency is reached.