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Luscious Lemon Cupcakes From ‘Cake Magic!’ Cookbook

Lemon cupcakes with mixed berry syrup and cream cheese frosting

Published on: June 02, 2021

Lemon-cupcakes
Photo:
Lemon cupcakes from ‘Cake Magic!’ cookbook

If you love baking and experimenting with different flavor combinations, Caroline Wright’s cookbook is for you. The idea behind her book “Cake Magic!” is simple: Choose the batter, flavor it with syrup and then add the frosting. She provides countless variations, plus ideas for how to tweak the recipes to make sheet cakes, Bundt cakes and cupcakes.

In this delightful book, you’ll find recipes for a candy bar cake, a root beer float cake, a caramel apple cake and more. You’ll also discover plenty of ideas for adapting recipes to different diets; Wright provides a helpful addendum on her blog that translates every recipe to avoid refined sugar and gluten. 

To whet your appetite, here's a recipe from the book for luscious lemon cupcakes with mixed berry syrup and cream cheese frosting. 

The lemon cake 

Makes one 8- or 9-inch two-layer cake (or one 10-inch Bundt cake, one 13 x 9-inch sheet cake or 24 cupcakes).

Ingredients: 

Cake Magic! cake mix (makes 4 cups)

  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon table salt (It’s important to use table salt in the cake mix; other types will eventually settle out of the mix.)

Lemon cupcakes

  • Unsalted, room-temperature butter, for greasing the pans
  • All-purpose flour, for dusting the pans
  • 3 1/2 cups Cake Magic! cake mix 
  • 2 tablespoons finely grated fresh lemon zest
  • 3/4 cup whole milk
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted and cooled, or 1 cup vegetable oil  
  • 3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 4 large eggs, at room temperature 

Method: 

  • Preheat the oven to 350°F.
  • Butter the bottom and side of the pan(s). Dust with flour to coat, then invert and tap out any excess. (If making cupcakes, use liners instead of greasing and coating the tins.)
  • Place all of the dry ingredients from the Cake Magic! cake mix in a large bowl and whisk together well to combine. Measure out 3/12 cups of the mix and save the remaining 1/2 cup for another use. Store unused mix away from light and heat in an airtight container for up to three months.
  • Whisk together the cake mix, lemon zest, baking powder and baking soda in a large bowl.
  • Stir in the milk, butter, lemon juice and eggs until moistened and no lumps remain (be careful not to overmix).
  • Divide the batter between the prepared pans or cupcake liners.
  • Bake until the layers are evenly golden brown and a few moist crumbs cling to a skewer inserted in the center of the cake, 32 to 36 minutes (40 to 50 minutes for a Bundt; 25 to 35 minutes for a 13 x 9-inch cake; or 20 to 25 minutes for cupcakes). 

Cream cheese frosting 

(Makes 4 cups)

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 3 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
  • Pinch of salt
  • 4 cups (one 16-ounce box) confectioners sugar  
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Method: 

  • Combine the butter, cream cheese, salt and 2 cups of the sugar in a large bowl and beat with an electric mixer on low speed until incorporated, about a minute.
  • Add the remaining sugar and beat on medium speed until the frosting is pale and no longer grainy, about two minutes.
  • Add the vanilla and beat until the frosting is very light and fluffy, about two minutes.
Cream-cheese-frosting
Cream cheese frosting from Cake Magic!

Cream cheese frosting will keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator for one week. Before using, bring it back to room temperature and stir it vigorously or beat it again for best results.

Mixed berry syrup 

Ingredients: 

  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon seedless raspberry jam
  • 1 tablespoon seedless strawberry jam
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon cherry liqueur or kirsch (optional but recommended)

Method: 

  • Combine the sugar, water, jams and salt in a small saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat.
  • Stir to dissolve the sugar, then stir in the vanilla and liqueur, if using.
  • Remove from the heat and set aside to steep, covered, for at least 20 minutes.
  • Strain the syrup.
  • Use the syrup warm or at room temperature.

Mixed berry syrup will keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to one week. Reheat it in a small saucepan over low heat before using. 

© 2016 by Caroline Wright. Recipe excerpted from “Cake Magic!: Mix & Match Your Way to 100 Amazing Combinations” by permission of Workman Publishing Company. 

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