I think future historians will probably look back on this time as the golden age of cupcakes. That’s what kids will learn about in school — how much people were into cupcakes. And you won’t have to wonder what it was like — you got to live it!
Since you’re living in the golden age of cupcakes, when you need to make some for a holiday party (or in our case with these, a friend’s birthday party), you need to make an incredible cupcake that befits the age. You don’t want the holographic representation of yourself telling your great-great-grandkids that you were alive in the 2010s and made cupcakes from a mix.
These cupcakes are buttery and lemony, moist but firm, and the butter cream frosting is almost unbearably creamy and delicious. At the party we went to, people were literally fighting over them. Not really. But everyone really enjoyed them. I was standing with some people who didn’t know we’d brought them and they asked what bakery they came from. That’s how good they are, and they’re not really that hard to make.
Lemony 1-2-3-4 Cupcakes (adapted from Alice Waters’ The Art of Simple Food)
Makes 22 cupcakes
For the cake
4 room temperature eggs, separated
3 cups all-purpose flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 sticks of room temperature butter
2 cups sugar
1 cup room temperature milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon lemon zest
For the frosting
12 tablespoons butter
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
2 teaspoons lemon zest
Small pearl white sprinkles
Set all of your ingredients out so they can come to room temperature.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease your muffin tins and line each cup with a greased paper liner.
Beat the egg whites to soft peaks with your mixer. Carefully remove to another bowl and set aside. In a small bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, and salt, and set aside. Using a paddle attachment in the bowl of your mixer, or with a regular mixer, beat the softened butter until light and fluffy. Pour in the sugar and continue mixing until it is well-combined and quite fluffy. Then add the egg yolks, one at a time. Next, add in the vanilla, and then the juice and zest.
With the mixer on low, add the flour mixture and milk alternately until the flour mixture and milk are just combined. When the flour is fully mixed, gently fold in the egg whites with a spoon or spatula.
Carefully spoon the batter into the muffin tin and bake for 20-25 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.
Set the cupcakes aside to cool. When they are cool enough to pick up, place them on a wire rack to cool completely.
To make the frosting, using the paddle attachment, beat the butter on medium speed until light and fluffy. Add in the powdered sugar and beat until the mixture is light, fluffy and airy. Add in the vanilla, lemon juice and zest.
When the cupcakes have cooled completely, frost and garnish with 1/2 teaspoon of small white pearl sprinkles.