What is one of the most versatile ingredients whether you’re cooking savory or baking something sweet? Lemons of course! Lemons (and other citrus) are in season right now in the U.S. so I felt inspired to make something with this popular tangy fruit.
Lemon is so great because it brings a certain brightness to every dish it is in. It can be used in so many ways and is an especially important ingredient in many cultures. Being Italian, I can't tell you how important lemons are to Italian cooking and culture! It is used in anything from fish dishes to limoncello cocktails.
Lemons have been around for nearly 2,500 years but didn’t make it to the U.S. until the 1800s. Lemons began to be cultivated in Florida and California but a deep freeze in 1894-1895 caused the industry to come to a screeching halt. It wasn’t until 1954 that lemons started to be in demand again, and it was for frozen concentrate, not even fresh lemons!
There are over 200 lemon cultivators in the U.S., and some are known for different uses of the lemon. Some are known for lemon oil, some for the whole lemon and some just for lemon juice. They are also known for the lemon species itself, for example, some have been bred to have fewer seeds, some to survive humid, hot climates and some to resist diseases.
The more I sit and think about it, the more I realize how important the lemon is to the cooking/baking world. I personally use lemon in almost any recipe I make because it provides just a pop of acidity or in other cases, it balances out an overly sweet mixture. As I have said before, I don’t like my baked goods to be overly sweet, so the lemon is my go-to for cutting the sugar down.
How do you use lemons? Is there anything you add to your baking to change it up a little? Tell me what your favorite secret ingredient is and share pictures of your lemon cupcakes!
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- 1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour.
- 1 tsp. baking powder
- 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1/4 tsp. salt
- 1 1/2 cups whole milk, at room temp.
- 1 tbsp. lemon zest
- 2 tsp. pure vaniila extract
- 1 stick unsalted butter at room temp.
- 1 cup sugar
- 2 eggs, at room temp.
- 1 whole lemon for decoration, optional
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 4 cups confectioners sugar
- 1/4 cup whole milk
- 2 tbsp. vanilla extract, optional.
- 1 tbsp. of lemon zest
- 4 sticks butter, unsalted at room temp.
For the cupcake
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line the cupcake tin with liners.
- Whisk the flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl.
- Combine milk and vanilla in a small bowl.
- Beat the butter and sugar in a large bowl with a mixer on medium-high speed until fluffy, 5 to 7 minutes. Beat in the eggs one at a time; beat until thick, 3 minutes. Reduce the speed to medium low; beat in the flour mixture in three batches, alternating with the milk mixture. Beat just until smooth, then finish mixing with a rubber spatula.
- Fill the liners 2/3 way up with batter.
- Bake the cupcakes for 16-18 minutes.
For the frosting
- Beat the butter and salt in a large bowl with a mixer on medium- high speed until smooth and fluffy, about 2 minutes.
- Reduce speed to low and beat in the confectioner's sugar one cup at a time, increasing the speed to medium-high.
- Repeat with the remaining 4 cups, beat until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Beat in vanilla and milk.
- Fill plastic piping bag with frosting with the tip of your choice. Begin piping on each cupcake. I used this tip 7pcs Set Stainless Steel Sphere Ball Tips Russian Icing Piping Nozzles Tips Pastry Cake Fondant Cupcake Buttercream DIY Baking Tools.
- Cut the lemon into small segments like you see in my pictures. Place one on top of each cupcake. You can add any other decorations or garnishes if you choose. Enjoy!