Top | Cupcakes from the Primrose Bakery

Lemon Cupcakes

(recipe, Martha Swift & Lisa Thomas)

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These fresh lemon cupcakes are always very popular in our bakery and also at weddings and christenings. Make sure you use really plump juicy lemons for maximum zing!


  1. 8 Tbsp. (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  2. 1 cup pus 2 tablespoons sugar, preferably golden bakers' sugar (see Note)
  3. 2 large eggs, free-range or organic
  4. 1 cup self-rising flour (see Note)
  5. ¾ cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  6. ⅓ cup 2 percent reduced-fat milk, at room temperature (see Note)
  7. 2 Tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice
  8. 1 Tbsp. sour cream
  9. Grated zest of 1 lemon (you need 1 teaspoon)


  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line a 12-cup muffin pan with cupcake liners.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter and sugar until the mixture is pale and smooth, which should take 3 to 5 minutes using an electric hand mixer. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing for a few minutes after each addition.
  3. Sift the two flours together into a separate bowl. Mix the milk, lemon juice, and sour cream together. Add one-third of the flours to the creamed mixture and beat well. Pour in one-third of the milk and beat again. Repeat these steps until all the flour and milk have been added, incorporating the lemon zest with the last third of flour. Don't worry if the mixture starts to curdle: simply add another spoonful of all-purpose flour and beat well.
  4. Carefully spoon the mixture into the cups, filling them about two-thirds full. Bake in the oven for about 25 minutes until slightly raised and golden brown. To check they are cooked, insert a wooden skewer in the center of one of the cupcakes; it should come out clean.
  5. Remove from the oven and leave the cupcakes in the pan for about 10 minutes before carefully placing on a wire rack to cool. Once they are completely cool, frost the cupcakes with lemon buttercream and decorate with a candied lemon slice or a little finely grated lemon zest.


Culinate editor's notes: If you use standard-size muffin tins, your cupcake yield will probably be more like 16 cupcakes, not a dozen. Baker's sugar, or superfine sugar, is available in supermarkets, but you can make your own by grinding granulated sugar finer in a food processor. You can also use ordinary granulated sugar. Self-rising flour is popular in Britain, less so Stateside. Make your own equivalent by placing 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder and 1/2 teaspoon salt in a measuring cup. Add all-purpose flour to measure 1 cup. Finally, whole milk or even buttermilk works just as well as low-fat milk in this recipe.