Meyer Lemon Lavender Cupcakes

  • Serves: Makes 12 cupcakes
  • Baking Temp (degrees F): 350
  • Views: 14340
  • Comments: 36

Cupcakes and photo by Anita, Premium Member © Sarah Phillips

SARAH SAYS: Guest Chef, friend and cookbook author, Anita, who owns the beautiful blog, Dessert First, shares her recipe with us!

It'’s not quite spring, but signs of its impending arrival are showing up with increasing frequency: pale blue skies peeking through wispy little clouds; days slowly growing longer; a few stray pink flowers on the trees. After a chilly, rainy winter, there'’s nothing like the prospect of sunshine and flowers to cheer one up.

I also find my thoughts turning towards from the rich warming desserts, like cobblers and puddings, of winter, to lighter, more airy concoctions to match the delicate etherealness of spring. With that in mind, I created these Meyer Lemon Lavender Cupcakes with Lavender Buttercream to celebrate the coming season. These cupcakes, made of a fluffy white cake flavored with the sunny tartness of lemon, topped with a sweetly floral buttercream, are as gorgeously pastel-hued as an Easter dress and an elegant harbinger of spring.

I used Meyer lemons, my favorite variety of lemon, for the cupcakes. These lemons have smoother skins than regular lemons and a milder, sweeter flavor. If you can't find them, regular lemons work just as well. The lemon juice and zest give the cupcakes a subtle lemon flavor, but if you want a more pronounced, vibrant taste you can add some lemon extract.

For the frosting, I used a Swiss Meringue Buttercream, which comes together in a snap and works wonderfully for frosting cupcakes. I’ve always loved the distinctive, soothing scent of lavender, and its flavor pairs wonderfully with lemon to make an unusual but very spring like dessert. Be sure you use culinary lavender and not lavender from plants that might have been sprayed. You can also sprinkle the lavender over the frosted cupcakes like I have for a beautiful decoration.

Cupcakes and photo by Anita Chu, Premium Member © Sarah Phillips

This recipe takes well to adaptation. You can change the flavor of the buttercream to lemon, for example, to make the cupcakes wholly lemon. Or you can top the cupcakes with a chocolate ganache frosting or a light glaze instead. Any way you make them; these cupcakes are a lovely way to welcome spring!


1 cup bleached cake flour; spoon into measuring cup and level to rim
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup whole or 2% milk
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon lemon extract (optional)

3/4 cup sugar
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
2 teaspoons lemon zest

2 large egg whites
pinch cream of tartar

1. Position the oven shelf to the middle of the oven and preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 12-cup cupcake pan with cupcake papers.

After measuring, sift together flour, baking powder, and salt into a bowl and set aside.

In a separate bowl, combine the milk, lemon juice, and extract.

2. Combine sugar, butter and zest in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Cream on medium speed for several minutes until light and fluffy.

3. With the mixer on low, add the flour mixture and milk mixture to the mixer in alternating additions, starting and ending with the flour.
Combine thoroughly between each addition. After you add the last of the flour mixture, mix just to combine. Scrape the batter out into a large bowl.

4. In a clean mixing bowl, with a hand held mixer, whip the egg whites with a pinch of cream of tartar to soft peaks.

5. Fold about half of the egg whites into the batter to lighten it up, then fold in the rest and combine.
Divide batter evenly among the lined cupcake cups.

6. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes, until a skewer inserted into the center comes out clean and the tops spring back to the touch.
Let cupcakes cool on wire rack before frosting.

Unfrosted cupcakes can be store at room temperature for a few days, well wrapped, or frozen for a month or more.

6 oz egg whites (5 large egg whites or about 3/4 cups)
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 1/2 pounds unsalted butter, room temperature
1/4 teaspoon lavender oil or 1 teaspoon lemon extract

1. Lightly whisk egg whites and sugar together over simmering water until egg-white mixture is hot to touch or a candy thermometer reads 140°F (60°C).

2. Pour hot whites into a room-temperature bowl and whip with a wire whip until double in volume on MEDIUM to MEDIUM-HIGH speed. When the mixer stops, the meringue should not move around in the bowl. Meanwhile cut up butter into 2-inch pieces. (The butter should be slightly moist on the outside but cold inside.)

3. On your mixer, remove the whip and attach the paddle. Add half the butter into the bowl immediately and pulsate the mixer several times until the meringue has covered the butter completely. To pulsate the mixer, turn it on and off in a jerky motion. This forces the butter on the top to the bottom of the bowl. Add the balance of the butter and pulsate mixer several times. Slowly increase the mixer's speed, starting with the lowest speed and increase the speed every 10 seconds until you reach a MEDIUM to MEDIUM-HIGH speed. NOTE: Add the butter VERY SLOWLY.

4. Continue beating until the mixture begins to look light and fluffy. Stop the mixer and scrape the bowl. Reduce speed to LOW.

Add the flavoring and continue to beat on LOW speed for 45 seconds. Then beat on MEDIUM to MEDIUM-HIGH speed for an additional 45 to 60 seconds. NOTE: It can take up to 8 - 12 minutes for the buttercream to come together and thicken.

Leftover buttercream can be placed in an airtight container for a week in the refrigerator or kept in the freezer for up to 3 months. Defrost completely (several hours) and rewhip before using.

Frosted cupcakes need to be refrigerated. They will keep for a few days.

Cupcakes and photo by Anita Chu, Premium Member © Sarah Phillips

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