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Carousel Ride and Lemon Cupcakes

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Admit it–there’s something happy about cupcakes. Even the word brings a smile to your face.

And what about lemon? The color and the scent and the flavor are all bright and light and fun.

Now put the two together–lemon cupcakes! Just typing the words practically brought the sun out–and it’s two hours after sunset here! Now imagine mixing together the ingredients, stirring the batter–the pale yellow color, the delicate scent of lemon mixed with butter and egg and sugar and flour. Then the scent of the cupcakes as they bake, filling the kitchen, brightening your day (or evening or night). Then add a light vanilla buttercream frosting and a little lemon zest and they’re ready to eat. But you might want to hold off a little while, let those cupcakes sitting on the counter add joy to your life by their mere presence. LEMON CUPCAKES–yup, here comes the sun again, rising above the western horizon!

“Carousel Ride” is a short story about a joyful outing on a bright and unseasonably warm afternoon in January. The love Becca and Zach share more or less exactly mirrors the glowing day. But there are shadows amidst all this sunshine, and the clock is ever ticking on their youth and infatuation. Take a look or a listen while you bask in the sunshine of your lemon cupcakes!

  lemon cupcake

Lemon Cupcakes

1 1/2 Tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature

2 Tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons granulated sugar

1 1/2 Tablespoons egg substitute (or crack one egg, beat it, and use 1 1/2 Tbsp)

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/3 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

pinch of salt (about 1/8 teaspoon)

1 1/2 Tablespoons milk

1 Tablespoon fresh lemon juice (zest the lemon first for garnishing cupcakes)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Put two muffin liners in a cupcake pan. Set aside.

Beat butter and granulated sugar together until light and fluffy, or about 2 minutes. Add the egg and vanilla. Beat ingredients together until well blended. Add the flour, baking powder, and salt to the cake batter. Slowly mix dry ingredients into wet ingredients. Lastly, add the milk and lemon juice and stir until ingredients are well mixed, careful not to over mix the batter.


Divide the batter between the two liners. Bake cupcakes for 18-20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in pan for 10 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely before frosting.


Vanilla Buttercream Frosting

1/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

pinch of salt (about 1/8 teaspoon)

3/4-1 cup powdered sugar

3 teaspoons milk

zest from the lemon for garnishing

Add the butter to a mixing bowl. Beat on high until butter is smooth and creamy. Add the vanilla, salt, and about 1/2 cup of powdered sugar. Slowly mix these ingredients together. Once the powdered sugar is mostly incorporated, beat the mixture until it is light and fluffy. Add the milk and the remaining powdered sugar and mix everything together. Frost the cooled cupcakes. Garnish with lemon zest right before serving.

lemon cupcake with zest

{Adapted from Sally’s Baking Addiction}

Carousel Ride cover

Carousel Ride, audio © Jeffrey Anderson

Carousel Ride, text © Jeffrey Anderson

About Elaine

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