Recipe: Lemon cupcakes with Cream Cheese Icing

by April@MyFoodTrail on August 21, 2009

in Baking, Cupcakes, Icing | Frosting, Recipes

We have our own lemon tree in our backyard, but due to the previous owner’s many years of neglect, the lemon tree was badly infected with gall wasps. Gall wasps tend to attack citrus trees, and bore into the branches and create nests. The gall wasps nests’ show up as huge lumps in the branches and unfortunately the only thing you can do is chop off the infected branch. Gall wasps can be prevented by hanging yellow sticky traps in the trees (can be bought from Bunnings).

We had to do some major pruning to get rid of the infected branches, leaving our lemon tree almost branchless and definitely lemonless! Lemon trees are very hardy, and with regular watering and citrus fertiliser, our tree is recovering well! Hubby even spotted the beginnings of a lemon yesterday!

I got a whole lot of lemons from my mum’s friend and most of them were used in various savoury dishes (salads, fish, chicken), leaving one behind. That one lemon was staring at me from the fruit bowl for more than a week, until I decided to put it out of its misery and make lemon cupcakes!

I have adapted the previous orange cake recipe I made and turned it into lemon cupcakes. The lemon I had was quite large, but I only managed to get ¼ cup of lemon juice from it and had to substitute the rest with bottled lemon juice.

I was going to make lemon icing, but the cupcake itself was very lemony so I opted to counteract the sour with a sweet cream cheese icing.


Lemon Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Icing
Makes 12-14

125g unsalted butter, softened
¾ cup (165g) castor sugar
2 eggs
1 ½ cups (250g) self raising flour, sifted
½ cup lemon juice
1 tsp finely grated lemon rind

1. Preheat oven to 180C (160C fan forced) and line muffin tin with cupcake papers.

2. Beat butter, sugar and lemon rind together with an electric mixer until pale and fluffy.

3. Add eggs, one at a time, beating until just combined.

4. Add flour and lemon juice in two batches and stir with a wooden spoon or spatula, again until just combined.

5. Pour mixture into cupcake papers until ¾ full.

6. Bake for 18-20 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean.

7. Turn onto a wire rack and allow to cool, then ice as below.

For cream cheese icing
125g cream cheese, softened
60g unsalted butter, softened
½ tsp vanilla essence
3 cups icing sugar mixture, sifted
2 tbsp milk (if icing is too stiff)

1. Using an electric mixer, beat butter, cream cheese and vanilla until light and fluffy (approx. 3 minutes).
2. Gradually add icing sugar, half a cup at a time, beating until incorporated.
3. Fill a piping bag with a star nozzle attached with some of the icing. Starting from the outside of the cupcake, hold the piping at 90 degrees in one spot and squeeze for a few seconds to form a small circle. Repeat until the whole cupcake is covered.


  • If you don’t have a piping bag, you can just use a knife and spread the icing over the cupcakes.
  • If the mixture is a bit soft for spreading, put it in the fridge to harden up for about 15 minutes.
  • Due to the use of cream cheese, it is recommended that the cupcakes or cake is stored in the fridge. Take the cake out about an hour or two before serving so it can come to room temperature.
  • I normally prefer to use vanilla bean paste for recipes that call for vanilla extract, but as this was an icing, I used the cheapo vanilla essence in the bottle because I didn’t want the black vanilla specks.

Result: Cupcake was incredibly moist and light and fluffy, though a bit on the sour side. I would put only ½ tsp of lemon zest next time. It matched perfectly with the cream cheese icing.

Would I make it again? Yes, great for a morning or afternoon tea.

Over & Out, Rilsta xx

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{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

Iron Chef Shellie August 21, 2009 at 10:30 pm

beautifully iced!

lemon trees are very handy to have, since they are cheaper off your tree than buying them at the shops!

I'd love to try these!


Stephcookie August 21, 2009 at 11:06 pm

I love the combination of lemon cake with cream cheese icing, that's why I used it for my pupcakes the other day 🙂 Your recipe might have been on the sour side coz of the lemon juice rather than the zest, 1/2 cup is quite a lot and I find bottled juice is particularly sour!


Jackie August 22, 2009 at 1:19 pm

Ooo, LOVE lemons!

I've made my partner promise that when we buy a place with a garden (hell, even a courtyard is more than we've got now), the first thing we're planting is a lemon tree. And he's not to tell me if he wees on it (always wash your lemons!).


penny aka jeroxie August 22, 2009 at 6:40 pm

I am planning to make some mandarin orance cupcakes. Yours look so cute & lovely!


Maria@TheGourmetChallenge August 23, 2009 at 8:20 pm

I love the icing technique. It looks so cute. I made lemon cupcakes the other day, not such a big hit with Daz, but I liked them!


Tina August 23, 2009 at 8:57 pm

That's some pretty cupcaking! I personally like my lemon cakes to be very zingy and lemony so that sounds divine!


Rilsta August 25, 2009 at 9:26 am

Hi Iron Chef Shellie: Thanks! Am looking forward to the day when my lemon tree overproduces and I have to give away the lemons! 🙂

Hi Stephcookie: Thanks for the tip! I always thought it was zest that gives the sour/bitter taste! Your pupcakes were so cute!

Hi Jackie: Haha!! Maybe I should tell my hubby to wee on the tree (without me knowing) so that our lemons will grow faster!

Hi Penny: Good luck with your baking! 🙂

Hi Maria: Wanna know a secret? I actually wanted to do the swirly icing but my icing bag tips are too small and the icing was a bit soft so I improvised! I actually this is icing technique suited lemon cupcakes better! I think men have an aversion to sour things!

Hi Tina: Thanks! If you like them lemony then you will love these!


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