Last year I made a lemon cake for a friend’s wedding and it was a huge hit. I then made the same cake again for my aunt’s birthday, and I converted some lemon cake haters into lemon cake lovers. So I thought, why not turn this big ol’ layer cake into some cute little cupcakes, top them with some raspberry icing, and see what people think? Well, these light and fluffy lemon cupcakes with soft pillows of rich raspberry Swiss meringue buttercream did not last long at all. Everyone loved them and people keep asking me to make them all. the. time. and I’m happy to oblige, of course. Now, thanks to this incredibly easy recipe, you can make these delicious little crowd pleasers too. But they are very delicious, and very dangerous. You have been warned. Now let’s start baking some lemon cupcakes!
You are going to be astounded at how easy these lemon cupcakes are to make. You’ll have them in the oven in ten minutes flat. All you’ve got to do is mix up your wet ingredients, whisk together your dry ingredients, add the wet to the dry, and voila – lemon cupcake better in a flash. Bake for 14-16 minutes and it’s time to move on to the magical Swiss meringue buttercream.
Traditional Swiss meringue buttercream is made by tempering egg whites with some granulated sugar, whipping it in to stiff peaks, and adding butter. The plant-based version is much easier. We don’t have to do the tempering step because we don’t need to cook egg whites, so we start by simply whipping aquafaba into stiff peaks in a stand mixer. If you’re not familiar with aquafaba, I’m about to change your life. I talk about it more in this post, but essentially aquafaba is the water from a can of chickpeas and it is a plant-based baking staple. You can whip it into meringue and use it to make a decadent mousse or even macarons.
Once our aquafaba is whipped, we add icing sugar, and then cubes of softened plant-based butter. I find Earth Balance Buttery Baking Sticks work particularly well. We then add freeze-dried raspberries to the icing for a beautiful natural colour and intense raspberry flavour. Swiss meringue buttercream is much firmer when chilled than classic American buttercream, but slightly softer when sitting at room temperature. It’s important to work with partially chilled buttercream when piping and then immediately refrigerating your decorated dessert until it’s 10 minutes before serving time. This will ensure the best consistency. To make the swirls on my cupcakes, I used a Wilton tip 1M and a 16″ piping bag. Having just a few basic decorating tools will really elevate your desserts and make you look like a pro! I’d recommend starting with a decorating kit like this if you’re starting from scratch.
And that’s all it takes to make delicious lemon cupcakes with rich raspberry Swiss meringue buttercream. They are the perfect treat for Mother’s Day or a birthday party, or just a random Tuesday (we don’t judge). If plant-based baking is your thing, check out our recipes for Oatmeal Chocolate-Chip Cookies, Classic Carrot Cake, or Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes with Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting.
I really hope you’ll give this recipe a try! Drop me a line in the comments to let me know what you think, and don’t forget to leave a rating! You can also tag your creations on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram with #whoneedssalad. Happy baking!
- ¾ cup plant milk
- ¼ cup lemon juice
- 6 tbsp canola oil
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1¼ cup flour
- ¾ cup sugar
- 1 tsp baking powder
- ½ tsp baking soda
- ½ tsp salt
- 1 heaping tbsp lemon zest
- ¼ cup aquafaba, cold
- ¼ tsp cream of tartar for added stability (optional)
- 3 cups icing sugar
- ⅔ cup plant-based butter, softened (I like Earth Balance)
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- ½ cup freeze-dried raspberries
- Line a cupcake tin with 12 cupcake liners and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
- In a large measuring cup, whisk together plant milk, lemon juice, canola oil, and vanilla extract. Set aside to let curdle.
- In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Pour the wet mixture into the dry mixture, add the lemon zest, and whisk until just combined. A few lumps are ok.
- Pour the cupcake batter into the cupcake liners (each should be about ¾ full) and bake for 14-16 minutes until a toothpick inserted into the centre of one of the cupcakes comes away clean.
- Once cool enough to handle, transfer the cupcakes to a wire rack to cool. In the meantime, make the Swiss meringue buttercream.
- To the bowl of a stand mixer outfitted with the whisk attachment, add the cold aquafaba along with the cream of tartar, if using. Whip on medium-high speed until stiff peaks are achieved – this may take up to 10 minutes depending on the strength of your mixer.
- Switch the whisk attachment to the paddle attachment. Add the icing sugar in 1 cup increments, ensuring it is thoroughly incorporated before adding more sugar. Once the sugar is fully incorporated, add the softened Earth Balance a little bit at a time, mixing slowly at first and then increasing the speed to medium once all the butter has been added. Drizzle in the vanilla extract and keep mixing for about 2-3 minutes.
- While the buttercream mixes, crush the freeze-dried raspberries in a mortar and pestle. Sift to remove the seeds, then add to the buttercream and mix until just combined. You can add more or less raspberry depending on the intensity of flavour and colour you desire.
- Transfer the buttercream to a large piping bag outfitted with a Wilton 1M tip or other piping tip of choice. You may need to chill the buttercream for about 10 minutes before handling if it is too soft. Pipe a generous amount of buttercream onto each cupcake. Top with crushed freeze dried raspberries or fresh raspberries and lemon zest, if desired. Store in the fridge, but let stand at room temperature for 10 minutes before serving.
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