I finally did it.
I turned my beloved lemon blueberry layer cake into cupcakes. Remember when I made that cake 2 years ago? I remember baking the very cake in those photos. The month was February. The weather was bone-chilling cold and the wind hailing around the apartment building shook me to the core. The pipes in our apartment had froze, burst, and flooded only a month before. I figured “now’s a good time for some dessert sunshine.” And I haven’t looked back since.
I’ve made that cake more times than I can count. I even made several cakes for my friend’s wedding reception one year. For which I bought a gazillion pounds of cream cheese and lemons. I was waist deep in cake batter and somehow flung cake batter INTO MY EYE but the look on the bride’s face made eye-verything worth it.
By the way, it really does make a wonderful wedding cake!
So here we are 2 years later! The weather feels just as cold (hey. i thought it was spring?) and I’m ready to take that lemon blueberry layer cake up a notch.
With these cupcakes, I amped up the lemon flavor. I also made sure there’s a higher ratio of blueberries to cake. Because bursts of juicy baked blueberries beats everything on this planet, right?** The lemon blueberry cupcakes are much fluffier than the cake version and I simply equate it to working with less batter. The less batter you work with, the less risk you have overmixing.
Let me geek out for a sec because I’m actually asked about this a lot. When you overmix batter or dough, you overwork the gluten strands in the flour. They become super elastic which results in a denser, chewier, somewhat gummy-tasting baked good. If you’ve ever made cupcakes or cakes that should be as fluffy as marshmallows and you end up with pound cake… overmixing could be the culprit. Always keep this in mind when you’re whipping up that cake or cupcake batter– use a low speed when combining the dry and wet ingredients. Low speed and mix s l o w. Slow and steady wins the cake and cupcake race, mmmk?
Back to the sparkly lemon blueberry cupcakes. They’re similar to lemon cupcake recipes you’ve seen on my blog and in my book before– understandably so! I’m a firm believer in when you find something you love, don’t fix it. Or just buy it in every color imaginable as evidenced in my madewell tee collection (so soft, I love these shirts!). This is my favorite lemon cake and cupcake base layer and I felt inspired to try them again. All I did was switch up the frosting and a couple ingredients.
To bring these lemon cupcakes to the next level, I reached for Sunkist Meyer lemons. Hey, did you know that a Meyer lemon is actually a cross between a lemon and a mandarin? Because of their sweet taste and low acidity, Meyer lemons are fantastic in lemon desserts especially cupcakes.
As far as the other ingredients go? Well, I’m going to be honest. And completely GEEKY again when I say these cupcakes are easy peasy lemon squeezy. Insert laughing emoji and/or eye rolling emoji here.
All awkward rhymes aside, though, making the cupcakes is actually pretty quick and simple. All starts with creaming butter and sugar together. To loosen up the batter, we’ll add milk. Not just any milk; I prefer buttermilk in these cupcakes. Buttermilk is used solely for moisture and flavor. Baking soda is typically paired with buttermilk, but again– we’re only using buttermilk for moisture and flavor. Not to react with the chemical leavener. Got it? Baking powder lifts ’em right up and pure vanilla extract compliments the butter and lemon flavors.
Quick tip: don’t overfill the cupcake liners. 2/3 full, max. That’s my go-to level for all cupcakes. You’ll get flattish/very mildly round tops that can hold a bucket of cream cheese frosting each. Is there any other acceptable amount?!
**except for cream cheese frosting.
They’re everything that lemon blueberry cake is, but cuter.
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Meyer Lemon Blueberry Cupcakes
- 1 and 1/2 cups (190g) all-purpose flour (spoon & leveled)
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup (115g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
- 1 cup (200g) granulated sugar
- 2 large eggs, at room temperature
- 1 and 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup (120ml) buttermilk, at room temperature (I use low fat)
- 2 Tablespoons lemon zest (about 3 Sunkist Meyer lemons)
- 1/4 cup (60ml) lemon juice (about 2 Sunkist Meyer lemons)
- 3/4 cup fresh (110g) or frozen blueberries1
Cream Cheese Frosting
- 8 oz (224g) full-fat brick style cream cheese, softened to room temperature
- 1/4 cup (60g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
- 2 cups (240g) confectioners' sugar
- 1-2 Tablespoons (15-30ml) heavy cream or milk
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- pinch salt
- optional: lemon slices and extra blueberries for garnish
- zester (here is the one I own and love. inexpensive and great quality.)
- Preheat the oven to 350°F (177°C). Line a 12-cup muffin pan with cupcake liners. This recipes yields 15 cupcakes, so you'll have a 2nd batch.
- Make the batter: Whisk the flour, baking powder, and salt together in a large bowl. Set aside.
- With a handheld or stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter on high speed in a large bowl until smooth and creamy, about 1 minute. Add the granulated sugar and beat on high speed for 2 minutes until creamed. Scrape down the sides and up the bottom of the bowl as needed. With the mixer running on low speed, add the eggs one at a time, then add the vanilla extract. Beat on medium-high speed until combined. Scrape down the sides and up the bottom of the bowl as needed.
- With the mixer running on low speed, slowly add the dry ingredients then add the buttermilk, lemon zest, and lemon juice. Beat everything just until incorporated. Do not overmix. Finally, fold in the blueberries.
- Pour/spoon the batter into the liners - fill only 2/3 full to avoid spilling over the sides. Bake for 18-20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. For around 30 mini cupcakes, bake for about 11-13 minutes, same oven temperature. Allow the cupcakes to cool completely before frosting.
- Make the frosting: In a large bowl using a handheld or stand mixer fitted with a whisk or paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese and butter together on medium speed until smooth, about 2 minutes. Add confectioners' sugar, 1 Tablespoon cream, vanilla extract, and salt with the mixer running on low. Increase to high speed and beat for 3 minutes. Add 1 more Tablespoon of cream to thin out, if desired. Taste. Add an extra pinch of salt if needed.
- Frost cooled cupcakes. I used a Wilton #12 round tip. Top with lemon slices and blueberries if desired.
Make ahead tip: Cupcakes can be made ahead 1 day in advance, covered, and stored at room temperature. Frosting can also be made 1 day in advance, covered, and stored in the refrigerator until ready to use. Leftover cupcakes keep well covered tightly in the refrigerator for 3 days. Frosted or unfrosted cupcakes can be frozen up to 2-3 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator.
If using frozen blueberries, toss in 1-2 Tablespoons of flour before adding to the batter. This helps prevent them from sinking.
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Craving something over-the-top? Fill these Meyer lemon blueberry cupcakes with homemade lemon curd. If I had any in the fridge and wasn’t losing photo light, I would’ve done it in a heartbeat! Always have that stuff at the ready. Trust me.
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