Lemon Cupcakes for your 4th of July Party

Happy 4th of July! I am so excited to just sit back, relax, and celebrate with family and friends today. This summer I have been really into baking and I wanted to make something special for everyone’s favorite summer holiday. If you want a refreshing, classic, and easy cupcake recipe to whip up before your festivities tonight, this lemon cupcake recipe is for you! Big thanks to Sally for inspiring our menu and making this sweet treat come true!

I always find it helpful to set out all of your ingredients before you get started. For this recipe, you’re going to want two groups of ingredients, one group for making the cupcake batter and one group to save for making the amazing vanilla frosting. Also, don’t forget your hand mixer! Before starting, make sure to set the oven to a temperature of 350 degrees F and line your cupcake tray with liners.

Ingredients for the lemon cupcake batter:
1 stick of unsalted butter (room temp!)
1 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons of vanilla extract
1 and 1/2 cups of all purpose flour (I used gluten free all purpose flour, it works great too!)
2 teaspoons baking powder (not soda!)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup milk (I used skim, but you can use soy/almond/2%/vitamin D
2 lemons: zest + juice

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After you’ve gathered all of your ingredients for the cupcake batter, start by beating your butter and sugar together. Set your hand mixer on medium speed. When it looks smooth, add in your eggs and vanilla – still on medium speed.  Set off to the side…you’ll be needing it soon!

Now lets get going on the dry ingredients. Combine your flour, baking powder, and salt. Slowly begin to add these dry ingredients to the wet ones we set aside earlier (I recommend 3 different additions – saves you from a mess!) Stir by hand! Your hand mixer is a little too intense for this step. Make sure when you’re string the wet and dry ingredients together that you’re not over stirring – just make sure they are well combined. The batter is pretty thick at this point…time to add your milk, lemon zest, and lemon juice! Stir until combined, still being careful not to over mix.

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There you have it! Beautiful batter. Now, your kitchen will be smelling amazing and it’s time to spoon the batter into your cupcake liners. Makes about 12 cupcakes…I had a little extra batter (probably enough to make 2-3 extra cupcakes). Oh, one more thing…pop ’em in the oven!

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After about 20 minutes even, it’s time to pull your cupcakes out of the oven. If you thought your kitchen smelled amazing before, it definitely does now! Let your cupcakes cool on a cooling rack. While you wait, start on the frosting!IMG_6660
A delicious vanilla frosting is the perfect compliment to your homemade lemon cupcakes. Let’s get started!

Ingredients for the vanilla frosting:
2 sticks of unsalted butter (room temp)
3-4 cups of powdered sugar (start with 3, add in your 4th cup if necessary)
1/4 cup heavy cream (half & half works just fine!)
2 teaspoons of vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon of salt (add a little more or a little less…to taste!)
A variety of fruits/lemon zest for decoration

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To get started on the frosting, begin by beating together your two sticks of butter on medium speed. Stop when you’re butter reaches a smooth and creamy texture. With your mixer still running, add in powdered sugar, cream, vanilla, and salt. When all of your ingredients are combined, switch your mixer up to high and mix for about 3 minutes – you want your frosting to be airy and smooth!
Quick tip: If your frosting seems a little too thick, add in a little more cream. If it seems too runny, add in that 4th cup of powdered sugar!

Next comes my favorite part: Decorating! I grabbed some fresh blueberries and strawberries from the fridge and set my sights on an American flag design. I started by frosting all of my cupcakes. Then, with a sharp knife, slice off the leafy top of your strawberries. After the top is removed, cut into the strawberry just like you cut off the top, but make thin cuts. One large strawberry should yield about 4 thin slices. To create the striped look, cut off the outer part of your strawberry slices (the part with the seeds!). Place them across your cupcakes in three stripes. 11 of your cupcakes will be striped with strawberries, and your 12th one will be dotted with blueberries. Okay guys, are you ready for the last step?! Assemble your decorated cupcakes into a flag and show ’em off! Just be sure to place the cupcakes in the fridge to preserve the fruit if you’re saving them for later.
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I hope you guys enjoy this recipe as much as I did! All it takes is a few household ingredients, fresh fruit (perfect for summer!) and a little decorative creativity.  I can’t wait to bring these to our get together tonight, I know they’ll be a big hit.

Happy 4th of July, and thanks for reading!
xo, MK

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