Strawberry Lemon Cupcakes

Wow!  I now know why there has been so much hype over Swiss meringue buttercream.  It is dreamy and smooth and so, so good!  I really don’t know how I’ll be able to go back to my old buttercream!

I have to give myself a pat on the back for making this recipe.  It was a lot more labor than I’m used to putting into cupcakes, especially on one of the hottest days of the year, but it was so worth it.  So worth it!

Due to a work function at the hellhole, I had to make all 3 parts of this recipe about 48+ hours before assembling the final product.  I left the lemon curd and buttercream in the fridge and left the cupcakes in an airtight container at room temp until I could put it all together.

As my luck goes, of course there was a casualty.  Well as instructed, I brought the buttercream to room temperature {or so I thought?} and then mixed it using my stand mixer to fluff it up again.  And it totally curdled and separated into a runny mess.  I ended up starting over with a new batch which was not really how I wanted to spend my Friday night, but that’s okay.

So, I would recommend making it and using it immediately.  Also, I used unsalted butter in the first batch and salted in the second and I could definitely tell a difference.  I thought the batch using unsalted butter was much better.  I didn’t have as many strawberries as were called for to make my second batch, so that was disappointing too.

Now, even though this was a time consuming project, no step was difficult.  At times I questioned the vagueness of certain directions, but I went with my gut and everything turned out great.  Erin also made some great suggestions, so I’ve included some combined tips throughout the instructions below that may make things more clear or clear as mud…

Strawberry Lemon Buttermilk Cupcakes

Source:  Milk and Honey and Martha Stewart

Makes 24 cupcakes {I got 27 cupcakes}

First, make the filling:

LEMON CURD

  • 8 large egg yolks
  • Finely grated zest of 2 lemons
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice (about 3 lemons)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/4 sticks (10 tablespoons) unsalted butter, cold, cut into pieces
  1. Combine yolks, lemon zest, lemon juice, and sugar in a heavy-bottom saucepan; whisk to combine. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon (be sure to scrape the sides of the pan), until the mixture is thick enough to coat the back of the spoon, 8 to 10 minutes, and registers 160 degrees on an instant-read thermometer.
  2. Remove saucepan from heat. Add salt and butter, one piece at a time, stirring until smooth. {I had to move the saucepan back to very low heat to finish adding the butter, it just wasn’t melting for me off the heat.} Strain through a fine sieve into a medium bowl. Cover with plastic wrap, pressing it directly onto the surface of the curd to prevent a skin from forming. Refrigerate until chilled and set, at least 1 hour or up to 1 day.

Next, make the cake:

LEMON BUTTERMILK CUPCAKES

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 4 large eggs, room temperature
  • Finely grated zest of 3 lemons (about 3 tablespoons), plus 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line standard muffin tins with paper liners.
  2. Whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt.
  3. With an electric mixer on medium-high speed, cream butter and sugar until pale and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating until each is until incorporated, scraping down sides of bowl as needed. Beat in zest and vanilla. Add flour mixture in three batches, alternating with two additions of buttermilk and lemon juice, and beating until just combined after each.
  4. Divide batter evenly among lined cups, filling each three-quarters full (or less, I had issues with 2 or 3 being too full and running over while baking}. Bake, rotating tins halfway through, until golden brown and a cake tester inserted in centers comes out clean, about 25-30 minutes. {My were still pretty light colored, but center was done so don’t just go by color.} Transfer tins to wire racks to cool completely before removing cupcakes. Cupcakes can be stored overnight at room temperature, or frozen up to 2 months, in airtight containers.

Make the frosting and assemble:

STRAWBERRY SWISS MERINGUE BUTTERCREAM

  • 1 1/2 cups fresh strawberries (8 ounces), rinsed, hulled, and coarsely chopped
  • 4 large egg whites
  • 1 1/4 cups sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) butter, cut into tablespoons, at room temperature {I recommend unsalted butter}
  1. Puree strawberries in a food processor. Combine egg whites and sugar in the heatproof bowl of a standing electric mixer set over a pan of simmering water.  {I may have messed up here, I just used a large shallow stainless steel frying pan, but realized later that it was supposed to be more of a double boiler set up.  So I guess I should have used a deeper pan for the simmering water?  My way seemed to work out though.} Whisk constantly by hand until mixture is warm to the touch and sugar has dissolved.  The mixture should feel completely smooth when rubbed between your fingertips.
  2. Attach the bowl to the mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Starting on low and gradually increasing to medium-high speed, mix until stiff (but not dry) peaks form. {I don’t think I truly got to stiff peaks, but went ahead anyway because it was glossy and fluffy.} Continue mixing until the mixture is fluffy and glossy, and completely cool (test by touching the bottom of the bowl), about 10 minutes.
  3. With mixer on medium-low speed, add the butter a few tablespoons at a time, mixing well after each addition. Once all butter has been added, scrape down sides of bowl with a flexible spatula and switch to the paddle attachment; continue beating on low speed until all air bubbles are eliminated, about 2 minutes. Add strawberries and beat until combined. Stir with a flexible spatula until the frosting is smooth.*  {Taste the frosting at this point and you will think you went to heaven!!!}
  4. Using a small paring knife, cut a small cone shaped portion out of the middle of each cupcake. Reserve the cones. Spoon about a 1/2 teaspoon of the lemon filling into each cake. Top with reserved cone and press it down slightly into place.
  5. Pipe or spread the frosting on top of each filled cupcake. Garnish with a strawberry and a lemon wedge. Serve immediately. Store leftovers covered in the refrigerator but bring to room temp before serving again.

*The frosting can be made ahead of time. Just transfer to an airtight container and refrigerate up to 3 days or freeze up to 1 month. Before using, bring to room temperature and beat with paddle attachment on low speed until smooth again, about 5 minutes. {I don’t recommend this, but left in for anyone who wants to take the chance.}

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5 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Amanda Creech
    Aug 23, 2010 @ 16:01:57

    These look so amazing!!! I am definitely going to try. I heard that the baptism was beautiful. I am so glad that you all had such a wonderful day.

    Question, I love, love, love bell peppers (especially red, orange and yellow), any great recipes??? Since I still hate tomatoes, I use peppers alot instead and would love any ideas. Seems like I always find really cool recipes that look delicious and then they have tomatoes in it and it just doesn’t work for me.

    Thanks

    Reply

    • Beth
      Aug 23, 2010 @ 16:37:15

      They were amazing! Especially the swiss meringue buttercream! I’m going to make that again and again!

      As far as peppers – I’m a big fan of them too. I have a stuffed pepper recipe on my list to make for dinner this week, so it will be posted soon. I’ll have to think about some other recipes using peppers and get back to you.

      I don’t love raw tomatoes either. I’m getting better, but they’re not great. I can usually get around it though because I do love cooked tomatoes! How about you? Sounds like you don’t like them at all?

      Reply

      • Amanda Creech
        Aug 23, 2010 @ 17:37:47

        I thought that I remembered that neither of us liked them raw 🙂 We eat a lot of pasta and I really like chilli and vegetable soup but I have a real texture issue with them even if they are cooked. I usually buy the petite diced and then I do fine.

        I think your mom would put sugar on them to try to get us to eat raw tomatoes ???

  2. themilkmanswife
    Aug 26, 2010 @ 22:55:41

    Oooo. Sorry making the buttercream in advance didn’t work out!! 😦 Those were the directions included in the book. I’ll put a link to this post in my post so readers know to make the frosting in advance at their own risk! I am glad you enjoyed them though! 🙂

    Reply

  3. Trackback: Beautiful Disaster « Milk & Honey

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