You know how the saying goes, "when life gives you lemons...". Well instead of making lemonade or limoncello as I've done in the past, I decided to do things differently. With all this rain in Los Angeles my meyer lemon tree has been in full blossom and full of citrus. Every year I pick the delicious lemons off my tree and make some sort of sweet treat. (Check out my previous recipes for my Limonc"hello" and When Life Gives You Lemons Cake.) This year I wanted to use another famous saying to inspire my recipe. "April showers bring May flowers," except now because of climate change LA showers are happening earlier than usual.
I love being surrounded by fresh or faux flowers. After spending six weeks in an arm sling and not being able to do what I love, bake, I was too ready to turn my oven back on. Blossoming after surgery and ready to see some sun inspired a new idea for use of my freshly picked lemons. I came up with the concept of lemon poppy seed cupcakes that look like sunflowers. Sunflowers represent vitality and adoration, so they were the perfect recipe to restart my post surgical baking journey. I decided to brighten up these Sunflower cupcakes even more with our Lemon flavored Sprinkle Mix. These Sunflower cupcakes looked and tasted amazing in the end.
See how I created these lemony flower cupcake masterpieces below.
Makes 12 cupcakes
1 ¾ cup All-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon Salt
2 tablespoon poppy seeds
½ cup of unsalted butter, room temperature
¾ cup granulated sugar
2 tbsp. of lemon zest (approximately zest of 4 large lemons)
¼ cup lemon juice freshly squeezed, equal to 4 large lemons
2 large eggs, room temperature
½ cup of sour cream or plain greek yogurt
Lemon Meringue Buttercream Frosting/ Sunflower Lemon Meringues:
12 egg whites, room temperature
2 ½ cups (17 ½ ounces) of granulated sugar
½ tsp. of cream of tartar
2 cups (1 pound) unsalted butter, at room temperature, cut into small cubes (for frosting)
pinch of salt (for frosting)
2 tbsp. of fresh lemon juice, juice of 2 lemons (for frosting)
1 tbsp. of fresh lemon zest, zest of 2 lemons (for meringues)
Extra poppyseeds, for decoration
Kaleidoscope Sprinkles Lemon flavored Sprinkle Mix, for decoration (optional)
Yellow, green and black food coloring, for decoration (optional)
Pirouette wafer cookies or pretzel rods, for decoration (optional)
Preheat oven to 350F. Line cupcake tin with liners.
In a medium sized bowl whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and poppyseeds. Whisk until all ingredients are combined and set bowl aside.
In a separate large bowl using either a stand or hand mixer cream together butter and granulated sugar until light and fluffy and doubled in sized. (Approximately 3-5 minutes). Add lemon juice and zest to the creamed mixture. Add eggs to mixture one at a time. Add sour cream or yogurt. Add flour mixture and stir until combined. Be careful not to over mix.
Using an ice cream scoop, place cupcake batter into cupcake tins. Bake cupcakes at 350F for approximately 20-22 minutes until tester comes out clean.
Allow cupcakes to completely cool.
While cupcakes are cooling make buttercream frosting and meringues.
For the buttercream frosting and sunflower meringues:
Using a hand mixer or whisk, in a heat proof bowl, whisk together the egg whites, sugar and cream of tartar.
Place the bowl over a double-boiler (saucepan of simmering water). Continue to gently whisk the mixture until it is hot to touch (130F on a candy thermometer).
Transfer the egg whites to the bowl of a stand mixer and, using the whisk attachment, whip the egg whites on medium- high speed until they have tripled in size and are thick and glossy and hold stiff peaks (like meringue).
Divide egg whites in half. Set one half aside in a large bowl for sunflower meringues.
Turn the mixer down to medium-low speed until the mixing bowl is cool to touch, approximately 3-5 minutes. Kick the mixer back up to medium-high speed and add the butter one piece at a time.
Stop the mixer every so often to scrape down the butter caught on the side of the bowl. Keep whisking buttercream until it comes together.
Once all the butter is incorporated and the frosting is light and fluffy, add your salt and fresh lemon juice. Set aside until ready to frost cupcakes.
With other half of meringues in the bowl fold in fresh lemon zest. Be careful not to knock out the air of meringues.
Turn oven down to 200F. Divide meringues into 3 small bowls. Fold in food coloring into each bowl.
Line cookie sheet with parchment paper. Pipe out meringues into sunflower shape (over Pirouette cookies, optional) on parchment paper. Sprinkle poppyseeds onto meringues.
Bake meringues for 45 minutes to one hour. Allow meringues to completely cool and harden.
Place buttercream into piping bag to decorate cupcakes. Frost cupcakes with buttercream.
Top cupcakes with Sprinkle Mix and sunflower meringues.
Devour and enjoy!