Hummingbird Bakery Lemon Cupcakes Recipe (Adapted for High-Altitude)

March 15, 2012

"Hollowing out a bit of the cake and putting in a small spoonful of lemon curd makes this cupcake very moist and tangy. Lemon is always a popular alternative to chocolate or vanilla desserts. The trick is to keep the frosting slightly tart, to temper the sugar."
- The Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook




For the Lemon Cupcakes:
(enough for 10 - 12)
  • 1 cup plus 1 tablespoon of all-purpose flour (decrease to 1 cup for sea-level)
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder (increase to 1 1/2 teaspoons for sea-level)
  • 2 tablespoons grated lemon zest
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon of whole milk, at room temperature (decrease to 1/2 cup for sea-level)
  • 1 egg, at room temperature

For the Lemon Frosting:

(enough for 12 cupcakes)
  • 2 cups confectioners' sugar, sifted
  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons grated lemon zest, plus extra to decorate
  • a couple of drops of yellow food coloring
  • 2 tablespoons whole milk


The Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook's Lemon Cupcakes Recipe(Adapted for a high-altitude environment of approximately 5,000 ft)

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 (F) -- this is a 50 (F)-degree increase from the original recipe temperature of 325 (F).

  2. Put the flour, sugar, baking powder, lemon zest, and butter in a freestanding electric mixer with a paddle attachment (or use a handheld electric whisk) and beat on slow speed until you get a sandy consistency and everything is combined.

  3. Gradually pour in the milk and beat until just incorporated.

  4. Add the egg to the flour mixture and continue beating until the flour is just incorporated, making sure to scrape any unmixed ingredients from the side of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Continue mixing for a couple of minutes until the batter is smooth, but be careful not to overmix.

  5. Using a cookie scoop, spoon 2 tablespoons of the batter into cupcake cases (or, fill until the case is two-thirds full). Bake in the preheated for 20-25 miutes, or until the cake bounces back when touched. A skewer inserted in the center should come out clean.

  6. Let the cupcakes cool slightly in the pan before turning out into a wire rack to cool completely.

  7. When the cupcakes are cold, spoon the lemon frosting on top and use extra lemon zest to decorate accordingly.

The Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook's Lemon Frosting Recipe
(For All Altitudes)

  1. Beat together the confectioners' sugar, butter, lemon zest, and food coloring in a freestanding electric mixer with a paddle attachment (or use a handheld electric whisk) on medium-slow speed. Continue until the mixture is well-mixed.

  2. Turn the mixer down to a slower speed and slowly pour in the milk.

  3. Once the milk has been incorporated, turn the mixer up to high speed.

  4. Continue beat until the frosting is light and fluffy; this should take at least 5 minutes.


Tips & Addendums

  • When grating your lemons, make sure grate as little as you can of the lemon's white peel -- the white peel is what gives citrus fruits its bitter taste. You only want the yellow of the rind.

  • All spoon measurements are level and unsifted, unless otherwise specified. To level the ingredients, take the back of a knife and run it across the top of the measuring up until the excess ingredients are scraped off.

  • Liquid and dry measuring cups are different; please make sure you use the appropriate measuring cup for each ingredient.

  • After adding liquid (milk, eggs) to the flour mixture, don't overbeat as this will overwork the flour and make the cake dense -- simply beat or stir until liquids have just been incorporated. In my opinion, making sure you don't overbeat the batter is one of the hardest parts about baking.

  • Don't open your oven until at least the minimum time recommended has passed. Too much cold air coming from a frequently opened oven door causes irregular oven temperatures, which then affect the baking process.

  • Specifically for the frosting: the longer the frosting is beaten, the fluffier and lighter it becomes.

  • I like to use a cookie scoop to measure out frosting onto my cupcakes; that way each cupcake will receive an equal amount of frosting.

  • Add your extra decorations (e.g. lemon zest) immediately after you have frosted the cupcake; if you wait to decorate the cake, the frosting will harden and the decorations will bounce right off the frosting.



  1. These are beautiful! I will adapt to my lemon bud recipe tonight, thanks!

  2. Looks delicious! I would like to try it out soon.


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