Lemon Zest Blueberry Cupcakes

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Summer is upon us which means lemons and blueberries are in season. I thought…what a perfect reason to create a dessert using both flavors! That’s when I dreamed up Lemon Zest Blueberry cupcakes. And if you know me, this is no surprise due to my serious and long-term obsession with cupcakes (read the story here). After several weeks of testing (thanks to my neighbors), I am now ready to share the recipe!

Zesty lemon cupcakes baked with fresh blueberries, topped with a slightly tart lemon buttercream, drizzled with sweet blueberry sauce and garnished with more lemon zest. It doesn’t get any better than that my friends!

WARNING! These cupcakes take time and a little extra effort to make so plan ahead. I usually begin with the frosting and transfer it to another bowl or my piping bag. This way my cupcakes actually get frosted once I’m tired out from all that sifting, mixing and zesting.

When cooled, frost those cupcakes with abandon! The method is your choice: flat top or swirly piping. I personally like to pipe it out since it looks amazing with the sauce drizzled down the sides. Zest some lemon curls for the top and you have dessert! Now I’m not one to brag, but I’ve gotten pretty rave reviews from my trusted taste testers on these. I hope you enjoy them as much as they have! Calories aren’t included because seriously, what’s the point?

If these Lemon Zest Blueberry cupcakes don’t suit your fancy, then check out my other recipes for Orange Blossom, Chocolate Chiffon, Harvest Pumpkin or Coconut Cream cupcakes and read about my funny Bake Sale experience!

Lemon Zest Blueberry Cupcakes

  • 4 T lemon juice
  • 2 T lemon zest
  • 3 cups flour, sifted
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 3/4 cup butter
  • 1 ½ cup sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 cups blueberries
  • 1 T flour

For the drizzle:

  • 1/3 cup blueberries
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • ½  T corn starch mixed with 1 T water

Zest and juice the lemons set aside (see Root Notes below on lemon yield). Line cupcake pan with papers. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Sift flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt into a bowl; stir to combine with a wire whisk; set aside.

Cream butter for 2-3 minutes; add sugar and continue creaming until light and fluffy.  Add eggs, one at a time, mixing to combine after each. Add vanilla and lemon juice; mix to combine.

Add dry ingredients in 3 parts alternating with milk in 2 parts, starting and ending with dry. Mix between additions until just combined, scraping down sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula.  Be careful not to over-mix as it can make the batter dense and tough.

Add 1 T flour to the fresh blueberries and mix gently until they are covered. This will prevent them from falling to the bottom of your cupcakes! Fold the floured blueberries and lemon zest into the batter until evenly distributed.

Using an ice-cream scoop, spoon a level amount of batter into the cupcake papers.  Bake for 16-18 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Yield: 24 cupcakes.

While the cupcakes are baking, make the blueberry drizzle: put the blueberries, water and sugar in a small pan on medium heat. Stir to combine and cook until bubbling. Combine the cornstarch and water until smooth. Add cornstarch mixture to the blueberries and stir until sauce is slightly thickened. Turn off stove and set aside.

Lemon Zest Frosting

  • 1 cup butter
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 5 cups powdered sugar
  • 3 T lemon juice
  • 1 T lemon zest
  • 2-3 T milk

Cream butter and vanilla in mixer. Add powdered sugar and mix to combine. Add lemon juice and zest; continue to mix. Add milk to reach desired consistency.

Root Notes

  • Recipes achieve their best results using room temperature ingredients. If you have time, set out the butter, eggs and milk 1-2 hours before baking. If you don’t have time, just place the eggs in some warm water for a few minutes and microwave the milk and butter in 5 second intervals until they are room temperature (70 degrees). No need to use a thermometer…if the milk isn’t cold and the butter isn’t hard, you’re there!
  • You will need 3 large or 4 medium lemons for the cupcakes & frosting plus 1 extra lemon to zest for the garnish. When testing this recipe, the lemons measured as follows:
    1 large lemon = 3 tablespoons juice and 1 tablespoons zest (Costco lemons)
    1 medium lemon = 2 tablespoons juice and ¾ tablespoon zest
  • I always check my cupcakes 1-2 minutes early using a toothpick or a small tap on top. If the toothpick comes out clean and/or the cupcake holds its form when you tap, take those babies out of the oven. To avoid a dry cupcake, under-baking is preferred to over-baking.
  • For the frosting, add some of the lemon juice and taste for desired tartness, then add milk to preferred consistency. For me, I go with the 3T juice and about 2 T milk.
  • This recipe will provide plenty of frosting for the cupcakes but I recommend making more if you are piping the frosting. Increase as follows: 1 1/2 cups butter, 7 cups powdered sugar,
    1 ½ tsp vanilla, 5 T lemon juice, 1 ½ T lemon zest and milk as needed to reach piping consistency.
  • If the blueberry sauce is too thick, add 1 T water and mix. You want it to be rather ‘soupy’ so it will drizzle down the sides. I try to make sure at least one berry lands on top.
  • It’s always nice to let people know what flavors they are about to consume by putting a small hint on the outside of the cupcake. The blueberries are obvious so the lemon zest on top is to prepare for the lemon zing that hits upon taking the first bite!



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