It’s been awhile since I made cupcakes!!!!
It was high time.
So I did us all a favor and not only made moist lemon cupcakes, I also smothered them in my favorite vanilla buttercream and then stuffed a lemony sprinkled cookie on top.
I mentioned it briefly on Monday, but we celebrated my mom’s birthday last week. My mom who has made me a birthday cake every year for my whole entire life. Even when I wasn’t here to eat cake with her.
When I was little I distinctly remember my mom totally slaving over a Cookie Monster cake. I don’t know what inspired that — my mom is not really a cake baker. Don’t get me wrong; she can pull a cake off just fine. But she’s not like me– baking is not her happy place. So her effort was just that much more special. Some super mommy need to give me a fancy cake must have struck that year. And I appreciated every inch of that blue frosting.
We have a long standing tradition in our family. A tradition that starts with a box cake mix. Our family birthdays are all basically the same; we all get together, laugh at each other, eat a little, open presents, make the birthday boy or girl pose awkwardly for photos with each new item they open, stick candles in the baked from-a-box cake, sing very loudly, and then we congratulate the box-cake-baker on how amazing the cake is.
Birthdays are awesome.
I wouldn’t have them any other way.
So obviously when I do the birthday cakes they are usually from scratch. Because I can. Because it’s actually easier for me since I always have more flour, oil, and eggs than any normal person needs. But THIS CAKE, an ode to all our fun family birthdays with a box of funfetti and a can of rainbow chip frosting (ya’ll don’t even act like you don’t love some funfetti with rainbow chip), is a box cake mix all dressed up. It’s extra moist and delicious and I love it. And my mom loves lemon so now you understand.
- 1 recipe Lemon Funfetti Sugar Cookies (see note)
- For the Cake:
- 1 box white cake mix
- 1 ( 3 ounce) package instant lemon pudding
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 cup water
- ⅓ cup fresh lemon juice + the zest of 2 lemons
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1 cup sour cream OR plain Greek yogurt
- 4 egg whites
- For the Vanilla Buttercream:
- 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter at room temperature
- 4 cups powdered sugar, sifted
- a pinch of salt
- 2 teaspoons vanilla
- 2 tablespoons heavy cream (as needed)
- Pre-heat the oven to 350. Line a standard sized muffin pan with paper liners.
- In a large bowl whisk together the white cake mix, lemon pudding mix, and salt.
- Add the water, lemon juice, lemon zest, oil, vanilla, sour cream and egg whites.
- Beat on low for about 30 seconds. Then beat on medium speed, making sure to scrape down the sides, for about 2 minutes.
- Divide the batter into the prepared muffin pan-- fill each cup about ¾ of the way full.
- Bake for 18-20 minutes. A pick inserted into the center will come out clean. Let the cupcakes cool completely before frosting.
- To make the buttercream beat the softened butter with 2 cups of the sifted powdered sugar until smooth. Add the remaining 2 cups of sugar and beat for another minute. Add the salt, vanilla, and 1 tablespoon of cream and beat until smooth. Add more cream if necessary to reach your desired consistency.
- Frost each cupcake generously and stick a cookie in the top of each.
How do you celebrate birthdays?