Basically sunshine in cupcake form, with some poppy seeds thrown into the mix – that’s probably the best description of these lemon poppy seed cupcakes. Each of the components (the soft and delicate cupcakes, the tangy lemon curd, the fluffy Swiss meringue buttercream) are amazing on their own. But together, they’re simply to die for. (Gluten free, with vegan option.)
It’s been two years since I pressed publish on the very first post on The Loopy Whisk. I’m 99% sure I didn’t know quite what I was doing or where this would take me.
It’s been a crazy two years. Sometimes, I pinch myself – and even then, it still feels like an out of body experience. I’ve been incredibly lucky to work with some amazing brands, try some wonderful products, and for some (quite obvious) reason people really like to send me chocolate. (I very rarely say no.)
Apparently, I’ve become an “influencer”. What a bizarre thing that is.
More importantly, I’ve met you. Yes, you who are reading these words right now (probably rolling your eyes because I’m being an overemotional blogger mess and, honestly, you’re just here for the recipe) and have been following along on my baking (and more rarely cooking) adventures.
Getting your e-mails, your comments on the blog and Instagram… it means the world.
There are things (so exciting things) happening in the background, many of which I can’t talk about… yet. And it’s making me itchy and a bit like an overexcited puppy because I want to share, and I know how cruel it is to say: “I have some news!!!! And I can’t share it yet.”
But… I have some news. And I can’t share it yet.
Anyways, it’s been two years. Here’s to hoping the next two (and the two after that, and the two after that, into infinity) are just as kick-ass awesome.
Now, onwards to the thing you’re actually here for. The wonderful, glorious lemon poppyseed cupcake recipe you’ve been begging me to share on Instagram for a few weeks now. It’s here.
These cupcakes are amazing. Here’s why:
The cupcakes themselves are soft and moist, flavoured with lemon zest and a tablespoon or two of poppy seeds.
The lemon curd filling in the centre of each cupcake is tangy, refreshing and like a lemony firework going off on your tastebuds.
On top of all this deliciousness: a Swiss meringue buttercream that’s everything sweet and fluffy and nice. Plus, a sprinkling of poppy seeds to really drive the point home.
On its own, each of these components is amazing and delicious. But combine them… and BAM it’s one of the best cupcake recipes I’ve ever tasted.
When you take a bite, you first encounter the luxurious buttercream, and a hint of the lemon zest in the cupcake underneath. Then, the lemon curd filling oozes out in all of its glory. It’s like a spoonful of sunshine in the middle of each cupcake.
There are awesome flavour combos, and then there are these lemon poppy seed cupcakes. They deserve a category of their own. And a crown. Maybe a sceptre too.
This feels like the right dessert to celebrate two years of The Loopy Whisk – even if it isn’t chocolate. (Shocking, I know.)
First, it’s something you’ve all been waiting for impatiently; the Instagram post with these lemon poppy seed cupcakes was actually record breaking in that it amassed a jaw-dropping 8,500 likes. I know – crazy, right?!
The cupcakes themselves are as beautiful as they are delicious. And that’s at the very centre of what The Loopy Whisk is about: flavour AND appearance, hand in hand, at the very top of what they can be. Never one or the other. Both. Always both.
Plus, these lemon poppy seed cupcakes are gluten free – with an easy vegan option. Or, you could make them with plain wheat flour if you don’t have any dietary restrictions. We’re all about inclusion round these parts. It doesn’t matter what you can or can’t or won’t eat – there’s something for everyone.
So, dear friend… these cupcakes are special. You should make them for someone special. (Yes, you can totally make them for yourself.) Go on then.
Lemon Poppy Seed Cupcakes (Gluten Free, with Vegan Option)
Basically sunshine in cupcake form, with some poppy seeds thrown into the mix – that’s probably the best description of these lemon poppy seed cupcakes. Each of the components (the soft and delicate cupcakes, the tangy lemon curd, the fluffy Swiss meringue buttercream) are amazing on their own. But together, they’re simply to die for.
For the cupcakes:
- 1/2 cup (120 mL) milk, room temperature
- 4 medium (or 3 large) eggs, room temperature
- 2 tsp lemon juice, freshly squeezed
- 2 cups + 2 tbsp (265 g) plain gluten free flour blend (I've used a store-bought blend with only 3 ingredients – rice, potato and maize flour – with no added xanthan gum)
- 1/2 tsp xanthan gum
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 1 1/4 cup (250 g) granulated sugar
- pinch of salt
- 4 tbsp poppy seeds
- zest of 1 - 2 lemons
- 2 sticks (226 g) unsalted butter, room temperature
For the lemon curd:
- 1/3 cup (80 mL) lemon juice, freshly squeezed
- 1/2 cup (100 g) granulated sugar
- pinch of salt
- 4 medium egg yolks
- 1/2 stick + 1 tbsp (70 g) unsalted butter
For the Swiss meringue buttercream:
- 8 medium egg whites
- 1 3/4 cups (350 g) granulated sugar
- 1/4 tsp cream of tartar
- 3 1/2 sticks (395 g) unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1/4 - 1/2 tsp salt
- 2 - 4 tbsp poppy seeds, plus extra for sprinkling
For the cupcakes:
Pre-heat the oven to 355 ºF (180 ºC) and line a 12-hole cupcake/muffin baking tin with cupcake liners.
In a small bowl, whisk together the milk, eggs and lemon juice until homogeneous.
In a separate larger bowl, sift together the gluten free flour, xanthan gum, baking powder, sugar and salt. Add the lemon zest and poppy seeds and mix briefly.
Add the softened unsalted butter. Using a hand mixer, whisk the butter into the dry ingredients until you get small, pea-sized pieces. (Alternatively, you can use a stand mixer with the paddle attachment.)
Add the milk+egg mixture and whisk until you get a smooth cupcake batter.
Evenly distribute the cupcake batter among the 12 cupcake cases – they should be each about 3/4 filled.
Bake in the pre-heated oven at 355 ºF (180 ºC) for 18 - 20 minutes or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean and the cupcakes are slightly domed and golden brown on top.
Allow to cool.
For the lemon curd:
In a medium-sized saucepan, combine all lemon curd ingredients except the butter. Whisk or stir briefly until the eggs are evenly incorporated.
Cook the lemon curd on medium-high heat until it starts thickening – stir constantly but do not whisk. Whisking will create a foam (from the egg yolks and the sugar), which will make your lemon curd frothy and not at all "lemon curdy".
After about 8 - 10 minutes, the lemon curd should have thickened significantly. Remove from heat and stir in the butter, 1 tbsp at a time, until all butter has melted and has been completely incorporated.
Allow the lemon curd to cool, stirring occasionally to prevent "skin" formation on top.
For the Swiss meringue buttercream:
Mix the egg whites, sugar and cream of tartar in a heat-proof bowl, and set the bowl above a pot of simmering water.
Heat the meringue mixture with constant stirring until it reaches 150 ºF (65 ºC) and the sugar has melted.
Transfer the heated meringue mixture into a stand mixer with a whisk attachment (or use a hand mixer with the double beater attachment) and whisk the mixture for 5 - 7 minutes, until it reaches room temperature and forms glossy peaks. Do not over-whisk as you can lose some of the fluffiness.
(NOTE: The meringue must be at room temperature before you start adding the butter – otherwise, you'll get a soup and not a deliciously fluffy buttercream!)
Add the butter, 1 - 2 tbsp at a time, while constantly whisking/beating at medium speed. If using a stand mixer, I prefer to switch to a paddle attachment for this step.
Continue until you've used up all the butter.
The buttercream will probably look like it's split at some stage (or it might become very runny, almost "soupy") – don't worry, that's normal. Just continue adding the butter and whisking/beating. The buttercream will eventually become velvety smooth. Be careful not to over-beat it, though – you will lose the air (and fluffiness) from the original meringue!
Add the salt and poppy seeds, and whisk/beat briefly until evenly incorporated.
Assembling the cupcakes:
Use an apple corer or a piping nozzle, turned upside-down, to create a hole in the middle of each cupcake. Fill it with cooled lemon curd.
Pipe the Swiss meringue buttercream with piping nozzle of choice (I used a Wilton 1M nozzle).
Sprinkle with extra poppy seeds.
The lemon poppy seed cupcakes keep well in a closed container in a cool dry place for 3 - 4 days.