Alright, I promise that this will be the last sour-citrus/berry flavor combo recipe for a while (I think so anyway, I'll be honest and say I haven't planned that far ahead yet). I've already posted two blackberry-lime recipes (see here, and here), and one of them was the post directly before this one. At least this time it's a different citrus and a different berry! And, more importantly, the flavor combination has manifested itself in the form of a beautiful, delicious, and summery cupcake.
It's been a long time since I posted a cupcake recipe. The last batch of cupcakes I made for the blog were these fabulous Banana Caramel Cupcakes, which ended up being a really popular post (hooray for awesome and unconventional flavor combinations!). Hopefully this cupcake recipe will be as popular. I can't see why it wouldn't, though. Picture it: fluffy and tart lemon cupcakes, with a surprise raspberry center, topped off with bright, lemony buttercream and finished off with a fresh raspberry. Too cute. Too yummy. Too perfect.
These cupcakes are a perfect summer treat, and speaking of summer, I really cannot believe it's August already. When did that happen!? I've been living at home as a college graduate for a little over TWO months now, and it's really really really bizarre. Time has just been flying by, and I can't believe that we're already in the last month of summer. I feel that there's still so many summer treats that I want to make, and with only a month of so left of the season, I better get moving. I have to take advantage of all the fresh berries that are around, summer is the perfect excuse to churn up some ice cream, and I better get my grilling fix on. There's no time to lose!
I love this particular flavor combination. Berries and lemon go so well together, and I consider fresh lemon juice to be an essential component to any dish containing berries. Pies, berry sauces, cobblers, crisps, you name it, they all benefit so much from a splash of fresh lemon juice. It's amazing what a difference the addition of fresh lemon juice makes. The berries don't taste sour, or lemony at all, but they taste much brighter, more fresh, and overall, more delicious. If you have yet to try this, remember to add a little fresh lemon juice, or even lime juice, to your fruit the next time you are preparing your desserts. You'll be amazed!
These cupcakes are one of my new favorites. I of course love the flavor combination, but I also love that they have a filled center. Filled cupcakes are one of my favorite ways to make cupcakes; the addition of a surprise center makes the cupcakes so much more fun, and it's such a simple way to elevate the wow-factor of your cupcakes. The filling is totally unexpected, but definitely a delightful little surprise. I love filling cupcakes with frosting, chocolate ganache, and as in this case, raspberry preserves.
As most cupcakes are, these cupcakes were super simple to make. I chose to further simplify them by making a basic, American-style buttercream frosting to top them off with, as opposed to a Swiss Meringue buttercream, and filled them with my favorite raspberry preserves, instead of making a separate raspberry filling. The decision to change out the filling was mostly the result of being in a time crunch, but the next time I make these, I think I will definitely make a fresh raspberry filling to pipe into the center of the cupcakes. Nevertheless, filling the cupcakes with raspberry preserves is perfectly fine, and perfectly delicious, if you find yourself in a pinch. The American-style buttercream swap, however, was due to a multitude of reasons. First, like I mentioned, I was in a time crunch, and Swiss Meringue buttercream, even though it's relatively simple to make, is definitely more involved than American style buttercream. Second, I kind of like American-style buttercream better (Swiss Meringue can sometimes be a little too rich for my taste). And finally, I just didn't have enough butter (and by now, you should know that I can be both forgetful and lazy about running to the supermarket for extra ingredients, especially when I can make an equally delicious substitution with what I already have in my kitchen).
The recipe I've given below for the buttercream should be thought of as a set of guidelines, rather than an actual recipe. Buttercreams in general are very forgiving, and can be easily corrected should you accidentally add too much milk or sugar. Additionally, the amount of ingredients you will use will vary depending on how you want to frost your cupcakes. If you plan on simply spreading a coat of frosting on top of the cupcakes with an offset spatula, you can get away with a frosting that's not as thick. If you would like to pipe your frosting onto the cupcakes with a tip, you will need a stiffer frosting, so hold back a bit when you are ready to add the milk. However, if you find that your frosting is thicker or thinner than you like, simply add more milk or powdered sugar, respectively until you're happy with the texture of the buttercream.
These cupcakes were a hit at my last family barbecue, and they went fast. I mean, I can easily see why. Who wouldn't want a bright lemony cupcake topped with slightly tart buttercream and a surprise raspberry preserve-filled center? That's the kind of dessert that I always am ready for. This cupcake is a great alternative to more standard (yet still very delicious) vanilla or chocolate cupcakes, and is a perfect fit for summer, since berries are easily available and in season. My one criticism of this recipe is that it could have probably used a bit more lemon in the cake itself. This, however, is really just an issue based on taste. Some thought the amount of lemon flavor in the cupcakes was perfect, while others thought that they could have used more lemon. Use your judgement and add more or less lemon juice or zest when preparing the cupcake batter, depending on how lemony you want your cupcakes to be. Aside from this though, these cupcakes were spot on. They were light, moist, flavorful and delicious, and the perfect way to end any summer barbecue. Enjoy!
cupcake recipe from Annie's Eats
For the Cupcakes
1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
zest of 1 lemon (or more, if desired)
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
3 large eggs, at room temperature
1/2 cup sour cream
1/4 cup milk
juice of 1 lemon
2/3 cup raspberry preserves
For the Lemon Buttercream
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
5-6 cups powdered sugar, sifted
2-4 tablespoons milk
pinch of salt
zest of one lemon
yellow food coloring (optional)
fresh raspberries, for decorating
Begin by preheating the oven to 350 degrees F and placing an oven rack in the middle of the oven. Line cupcake tins with paper liners.
In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Whisk to blend, and set aside.
In the bowl of a standard electric mixer, fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the sugar and lemon zest, mixing for about three minutes on medium speed to infuse the sugar with the scent of the lemon zest. Add the butter, and beat on medium speed for about five minutes, or so that the butter is light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, making sure each is incorporated before adding the next one, and scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula as needed. In a liquid measuring cup, combine the sour cream, milk, and lemon juice, whisking to blend. With the mixer running on low speed, add the dry and wet ingredients alternately, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients. Mix only until just combined.
Divide the cupcake batter among the prepared cupcake liners, filling each about 3/4 of the way. Bake the cupcakes until the tops are golden and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 18-20 minutes. Allow the cupcakes to cool briefly in the pan, and then transfer to a wire rack and allow them to cool completely.
While the cupcakes are cooling, prepare the lemon buttercream. In the bowl of a standard electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter for about five minutes, or until it is light and fluffy. Gradually begin to add the sifted powdered sugar, mixing on low speed at first (so as to avoid having a powdered sugar explosion all over your kitchen). I added about a cup of sugar at a time, and used about 5 1/2 cups of powdered sugar total, but you can add more or less depending on how sweet you like your buttercream. As you add the sugar, add the milk, pinch of salt, lemon zest. The amount of milk you add depends on how thick you like your frosting- if you plan on piping the frosting onto the cupcakes, use less milk to have a thicker buttercream; if you're simply spreading the buttercream on with a knife, you can get away with a slightly less thick buttercream. Beat the frosting on high speed to get it to a nice and fluffy state. Once you have achieved your desired consistency, add a few drops of yellow food coloring to tint the frosting a pale shade of yellow, if desired. This buttercream is very forgiving; you can always add more powdered sugar or milk if you feel that the consistency is not right.
Once the cupcakes have cooled completely, use a small paring knife to cut a small cone out of the top of each cupcake, keeping cones with their respective cupcakes. Fill a piping bag (a ziploc bag works too!) with the raspberry preserves, and pipe about 2 teaspoons or so of preserves into each cupcake. Replace the tops of the cupcakes, cutting off a portion of each cone (this is the part where you get to snack on little bites of cupcake).
To frost the cupcakes, fill a large piping bag fitted with a star tip (I used a Wilton 1M) with the lemon buttercream. Pipe a large swirl of buttercream onto each cupcake, and top with a fresh raspberry. Enjoy!
Makes 18 cupcakes, with enough buttercream to generously frost all the cupcakes as shown