Monday, September 17, 2012

Lemon Buttermilk Cupcakes with Earl Grey Tea Buttercream

My friends in Pennsylvania have a big Victorian house with a river running in front of it. Two bridges provide access to the property. One secondary bridge is semi shaky. We jokingly refer to call it as the "car wash" bridge when we ride over it. The other, more stable and wider structure, ironically was taken out last year in the hurricane.

One year, many disputes with local, federal and insurance agencies later and the bridge remained broken. This is when a community comes together. A benefit was organized. Everyone pitched in and the resulting evening of dinner, dancing, and a silent auction was so amazingly successful, that bridge will be operational in no time. I love my community here in Pennsylvania.

I don't know even how to describe the hosts for the evening, except they have been a foundation of the community for 40 years, live in a renovated church and have a magical wonderful business selling all sorts of artistic home goods and jewelry from Mexico. Their kitchen in straight up Frieda Kahlo meets Alice in Wonderland.

Photos by Alan Kaplan
One is an accomplished cook and provided delectable food for the evening's themed: It Takes a Village to Raise a Bridge Fundraiser.

For the benefit, I made these cupcakes to add to the array of desserts. Originally committed to making broken bridge toppers, the bridge owners were also getting married the following weekend and I had previously agreed to make 260 macarons to distribute as favors at their wedding. So, of course, I ran out of time.

I tried to compensate for flavor what I lacked in design and also offered my baking services as part of the silent auction. Happy to say I was bid on.  Looking forward to creating a mystery baked good based on the winner's whim soon.

Adding buttermilk to cupcakes makes them so soft and moist. There were a few I initially thought were overbaked, their edges being a bit too brown when they came out of the oven, But they turned out perfect, melt in your mouth soft and flavorful inside.

The lemon buttermilk marriage is a winning combo and Earl Grey buttercream added just the right touch of additional flavor to make this cupcake rise above one topped with traditional vanilla buttercream. Of course, I had to add a bit of sparkle to razzamatazz them a bit. You know that's how I roll.

Lemon Buttermilk Cupcakes with 
Earl Grey Tea Buttercream

For the Lemon Buttermilk Cupcakes:
(adapted from Magnolia Bakery's Vanilla Cupcakes Recipe)


  • 1 1/2 cups self-rising flour
  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 4 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 teaspoon lemon extract
  • 2 tablespoons lemon zest


  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  • Line 2 (1/2 cup-12 capacity) muffin tins with cupcake papers.
  • In a small bowl, combine the flours. Set aside.
  • In a large bowl, on the medium speed of an electric mixer, cream the butter until smooth. Add the sugar gradually and beat until fluffy, about 3 minutes. 
  • Add the eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. 
  • Add the dry ingredients in 3 parts, alternating with the buttermilk, lemon extract, and lemon zest. With each addition, beat until the ingredients are incorporated but do not overbeat. Using a rubber spatula, scrape down the batter off of the sides of the bowl to make sure the ingredients are well blended. 
  • Fill a pastry bag with the batter and fill the cupcake liners filling them about 3/4 full. 
  • Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted into the center of the cupcake comes out clean.
  • Cool the cupcakes in tins for 15 minutes. Remove from the tins and cool completely on a wire rack before icing.

For the Earl Grey Tea Buttercream:
(adapted from Magnolia Bakery's Vanilla Buttercream Recipe)

  • 1/2 cup white granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 4 Earl Grey tea bags.
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 6 to 8 cups confectioners' sugar
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 tablespoon lemon zest
  • Gold disco dust (optional)

  • Place sugar and water in a saucepan. Heat until sugar is dissolved.
  • Add tea bags and simmer until syrup forms.
  • Remove tea bags and let syrup cool completely.
  • Scrape tea out of the bags and reserve.
  • Place the butter in a large mixing bowl. Add 4 cups of the sugar and then the milk and vanilla. On the medium speed of an electric mixer, beat until smooth and creamy, about 3 to 5 minutes.
  • Gradually add the remaining sugar, 1 cup at a time, beating well after each addition (about 2 minutes).
  • Stream in the syrup alternating with the sugar until the icing is thick enough to be of good spreading consistency.
  • Add the tea leaves and mix until combined.
  • Fill a disposable pastry bag and swirl the frosting onto the cupcakes. Sprinkle with lemon zest and disco dust.


  1. they were amazing!!had one that night and one the next morning the follwoing morning.

  2. These were the most amazing cupcakes ever... moist - flavors that just tickled the pallet...if you want to be the star of your next event... these are the ticket...

  3. Of course these cupcakes were bid on. They sound wonderful and look beautiful. What a lovely little community you live in to have come together like they did for this couple and the bridge.

  4. These look perfectly piped and very well dressed for your benefit! Earl Grey is such a wonderful flavour and is not in enough recipes. Buttermilk sounds like a very interesting ingredient for cake - I must try using it some time!

  5. I want to eat that delicious cupcakes because of the edible gold dust! So retro :)

  6. These cupcakes are totally gorgeous! Loving the sprinkles on top. :) I love this flavor combo...I have actually made the opposite, earl grey cupcakes with lemon frosting! :)

    1. Thanks! that's a great idea for a post or a cupcake challenge to create both in one post, one flavor on top another on the bottom and then reverse them.

  7. Great combo. yum. Love the buttermilk in cupcakes.

  8. I am so intrigued with the earl grey frosting. Cupcakes are still very very pretty. I wonder what the lucky bidder will want.

  9. Hmm I really need to find more people to feed cupcakes to with all these great cupcake creations! Lyn


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