I’m not a big fan of summer, but I am a big fan of summer flavors. These lemon crumble cupcakes taste like summer with plenty of lemon flavor, light whipped cream cheese frosting, and topped with delicious walnut crumble.
If you’ve read this blog before, you’d know by now that my husband, Andrew, LOVES anything lemon. I pretty much mention this every time I post a lemon recipe. Needless to say, this recipe has been Andrew-approved. So how did I come up with this? I wanted lemon cupcakes but doesn’t have the typical cupcake frosting, but also had some other texture. Everyone loves a cream cheese frosting, but I wanted to keep it summery and light so I turned it into a light whipped cream cheese frosting instead. And just to be super extra, I topped them off with a buttery walnut crumble that adds a bit of crunch with every bite. I gotta tell ya, the combination is divine!
The cupcake texture
These lemon crumble cupcakes have a moist and tender crumb — exactly how I like my cupcakes. To produce a perfectly tender texture, I added cornstarch, and one of my favorite baking ingredients: sour cream. Normally, to get soft cupcakes, you’d want to use cake flour. I don’t know about you, but cake flour isn’t one of the more common ingredients I happen to have in my pantry. However, most people have cornstarch so it’s a little easier to develop a recipe that substitutes cake flour with more accessible ingredients.
Tools you’ll need
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
- 1/3 cup brown sugar
- 1/2 cup white sugar
- 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 3 tbsp cornstarch
- 2 eggs, room temp
- 1/2 cup sour cream, room temp
- 2 medium lemons, juiced and zested (~1/3 cup of the juice)
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 2 tsp baking powder
Whipped cream cheese frosting
- 8 oz cream cheese, softened
- 3/4 cup white sugar
- 1 cup heavy whipping cream, cold
- 1 small lemon, juiced and zested
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- pinch of salt
- 35 g chopped walnuts
- 35 g all-purpose flour
- 35 g unsalted butter, cold
- 35 g brown sugar
- Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
- Beat the butter and both sugars using a stand mixer with a paddle attachment on medium-high until light and floofy (at least 5 minutes). Add the eggs and vanilla extract and beat for another minute. Then, add the lemon juice, lemon zest, and sour cream and beat for another minute.
- Sift the flour, cornstarch, salt, and baking powder into the wet ingredient in the mixing bowl and mix on the lowest setting. You want to mix just enough that the dry ingredients get incorporated thoroughly. Don't overmix!
- Scoop the batter into lined muffin / cupcake pan, filling only about 2/3 of each "cup" of the pan.
- Bake for about 20-22 minutes. Test doneness by sticking a toothpick in the cupcake -- it should come clean.
- Let it cool for about 10 minutes in the pan, then transfer carefully onto a cooling rack to continue to cool down.
- Keep your own at 350 degrees -- you'll need this for the crumble. While the cupcakes are resting, put the chopped walnuts, flour, cold butter, and brown sugar into a food processor and pulse until you get a sandy mixture (should vary in size, with the biggest pieces about the size of a pebble).
- In lined baking sheet, bake the crumble in the oven for about 12-15 minutes or until the crumble is golden brown. Set aside to cool. Once cooled, you may need to crush some of them a bit that may have stuck together in bigger pieces.
- While everything is continuing to cool, you can make your whipped cream cheese frosting. Using the whisk attachment and the stand mixer, whisk the softened cream cheese and sugar until it's not grainy anymore and the cream cheese is soft and light in texture.
- Add the cold heavy whipping cream, lemon juice, lemon zest, vanilla extract, and salt to the cream cheese mixture and whisk on high until you get a light, whipped cream cheese frosting, The frosting will not be as robust as a standard cream cheese frosting--it will be on the lighter side. Keep the frosting chilled until you're ready to assemble your cupcakes.
- Once everything is cooled down, put some light whipped cream cheese frosting on each cupcake. It's up to you how much you want to use, but I use my 2-inch ice cream scooper to get an equal amount of frosting for each. You can also use a piping bag to pipe the frosting, or just put a dollop of frosting with an offset spatula. Then, sprinkle a generous amount of the walnut crumble on top of each cupcake. Enjoy!
Storage and refrigeration
Since these lemon cupcakes have a whipped cream cheese frosting, make sure to put them on the fridge. You don’t want them sitting on the counter for more than 8 hours. However, before eating or serving these again, let them get to room temperature so the cupcakes can relax. Otherwise, the texture may be a bit tough. Lastly, these lemon cupcakes can last up to 3 days in the fridge. Hopefully, you wouldn’t take that long to eat them all 😉