Lemon Lover Cupcakes with Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting

Dear other twenty-three + year olds…

Do any of you have your life figured out? Are you content with your job, your relationship, your family life, with yourself? If you are, tell me your secret. But still read this, because most of us don’t have it all together.

Maybe we’re narcissistic, maybe we’re selfish. But we’re driven, ambitious, and self-aware. We’re always looking forward, because well, that’s what we’ve been taught to do. We learn a new skill, take on a new hobby, and say “okay what can I do next?”

We multi-task. We have too many extracurriculars. We push and push to become better. We expect more from ourselves.

I’d love to be writing this five years from now with a lot more wisdom and experience. I know that we never have all the answers. And I don’t ever want us to. But this is where I am today, and it’s okay. It’s okay to want everything and it’s okay to fall short of our own expectations and goals.

It’s okay to say “I have no idea,” when someone asks what you want to do in life. It’s taking me longer (a lot longer) than I like to figure it out, to get on my feet, but it’s okay. I’d rather spend time being lost and embracing the questions, than churning away my working hours in order to spend one or two hours every weekend doing what I love. We’re audacious enough to hope, if we’re sharp, hard-working, and strategic, that our passions can be our 9-5.

I’ve done my best the last few months to throw myself at the things I love. That’s the only way I know how to approach this. It’s going slowly, but I’m getting there. Sometimes we have to be stagnant or scale back for a bit so we can push ahead in the future.

We should want everything.

And we should want a cupcake to blow our socks clean off and out the back door.

Cross my heart these are the best cupcakes I’ve had or made. Credit for the recipe is completely and totally due to Jamie at My Baking Addiction.

These are exactly what cupcakes should be – soft and springy. Not crumbly. Not overcooked. The cake should be delicious all in it’s own right, and you should be tempted to have yet another one even if you’re stuffed. The lemon zest, lemon extract, and lemon sugar in the cake make you want to do nothing in life but eat. Then with the tangy lemon cream cheese frosting. Really, I could just move my sleeping bag into the kitchen and stay there forever.

P.S. I’m obviously taking a break from the regular schedule of Bread & Belgians. Not because I don’t like making bread or drinking Belgians, but my heart has been elsewhere the last few days. And as I noted in my last post, I couldn’t stop thinking about lemon cupcakes.

Lemon Cupcakes with Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting

(recipe from My Baking Addiction)

2 1/4 cups cake flour
1 Tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cup buttermilk
4 large egg whites
1 1/2 cup granulated sugar
zest from one lemon
8 Tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon lemon extract (it’s worth the money)
yellow food coloring as needed

Italicized ingredients/measurements are those differing from the original recipe.

1. Mix together flour, baking powder, and salt in small mixing bowl. Beat eggs and milk in a separate bowl.

2. In medium-large bowl, rub lemon zest and sugar together until the sugar is a uniform pale yellow and feels damp. Add butter, vanilla extract, and lemon extract, and beat until smooth.

3. Add 1/3 flour mixture, beat well. Add 1/2 wet mixture, beat well. + 1/3 flour. Beat. +1/2 wet. Beat. +1/3 flour. Mix until just combined. Gently stir in food coloring until you reach your desired yellow. (I used about seven drops of liquid yellow)

4. Fill regular and mini cupcake liners 1/2-3/4 full. Bake regular cupcakes for 20-22 minutes, and mini cupcakes for 13-15 minutes at 350 degrees F. A toothpick inserted in the middle should come out clean. Let cool for five minutes in pan then remove to cool completely.

 Cream cheese frosting
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
8 Tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
2 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 teaspoons lemon juice
zest from one lemon
a ton of powdered sugar
Use a 1 lb bag and add one cup at a time.

1. Cream butter and cream cheese together. Add vanilla extract, lemon juice, and lemon zest, and mix well.

2. Add powdered sugar one cup at a time until frosting is thick enough that when you make a swirl with your knife or spoon, the curl holds up for a few minutes. If you find that the frosting isn’t thick enough when you pipe or spread it, simply chill for about fifteen minutes and try again.

Cake and frosting made about 2 dozen full sized cupcakes, and about 4 dozen mini cupcakes.

Cakes can be stored at room temperature in an airtight container (they get sticky in plastic bags at room temp), or frozen for use later. Simply thaw at room temperature for one-two hours before needed. Since I only frosted a few at a time, I stored the remainder of my frosting in a large ziploc bag in the refrigerator and used as needed over the next few days. If you want to store your piping bag, wrap the tip in a damp paper towel, and put in an unsealed ziploc bag. That way you can simply spoon extra frosting in the bag when you get ready to have more. 

  1. G-LO said:

    You’re 23??? All I can say is relax and keep doing what you’re doing. I’m almost 45 and have still not figured it out. Work is work. It pays ok and people are generally nice to me, so I continue to stay at a job that rarely thrills me. But now I’ve discovered blogging, and although it doesn’t make me any money, I love every minute of it and hope to keep doing it for a long long time. SImple pleasures right?

    And as far as the cupcakes, they look delicious! Cupcakes should be simple and delicious. These seem to fit that criteria. Well done!

  2. Good friend, the questions I think are better than the answers generally. Well, at least, the questions you’re asking. Sometimes, probably more often than I should, I wish I was lost again.

    Also, damn you for these cupcakes. I’ve recently said to myself, “Only 3 desserts a week.”
    This does not bode well.

  3. Muna said:

    I agree with G-Lo- I too am 45, soon to be, and I dont have the perfect job, but its a process. I havent grown up either and I am glad I have discovered blogging and have been able to combine that with my real passion-baking! My advice-just make sure you always have room in life to do something you love! even if for only 2 minutes a day- DO it!

    the cupcakes look terrific-I am so ready for some lemony desserts-they are like the birds chirping outside to me; a sign of Spring! Thanks for sharing!!

  4. thebakeandbrew said:

    Thank you all for those words on the cupcakes and on life. Though it sounds like we all go through this process and ask these questions for the majority of our lives, it’s reassuring to hear honesty about where one is, and to know that a few others are in the same boat 🙂

  5. Crystal said:

    These are the best cupcakes ever, the ladies at work can not get enough.

  6. angela said:

    any thoughts on turning this recipe into a 1/2 sheet cake? it was so delicious as cupcakes, but i am supposed to make a huge cake for this weekend. double? triple the recipe? yikes! 🙂

    • thebakeandbrew said:


      I have not tried turning this recipe into a cake yet, but I’ve been dying to for ages. My recommendation would be to try and find directions online for turning cupcake recipes into cake recipes in general. I will say that these cupcakes are very light and airy, so going with just one layer for a sheet cake is a good choice. Please let me know if you do try this! I would love to hear how it goes!


      • angela said:

        thank you for responding! i have tripled the recipe, and it’s a bit more than necessary for a 1/2 sheet, but that means i can also serve a few cupcakes!

  7. angela said:

    if anyone else wants to make this into a 1/2 sheet, i’d advise you to only double the frosting, not triple it. there’s no need for this much frosting! 🙂

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