Of Cupcakes and Turning A Year Older.

Lemon and Brown Sugar Cupcakes

I’m kinda unbashingly one of those people who absolutely loves it when their birthday rolls around.

The friends who make an effort to call or text cheery birthday wishes, the birthday dinners, the birthday cakes- what isn’t there really to love about birthdays?

But lately, it seems the older I get, the more I revel in birthday celebrations. Case in point- last year, I had a simple dinner with my family and the boyfriend (mostly thanks to work but still). This year, I went to see the Lion King (love love love that show!), spent my birthday at the zoo and had dinner at my favourite restaurant.

I know, can you say spoilt and so incredibly lucky?

Lemon and Brown Sugar Cupcakes II
But a big fun-filled day or a simple dinner, one of the things I always look forward on my birthday to is making my own cake. And this year, more than ever, I knew I wanted cupcakes, bursting with bright, lemony flavours.

So cupcakes and bright, lemony flavours, I wanted. Cupcakes and bright, lemony flavours, I got.

Essentially a slightly jazzed up version of my favourite lemon cake (with lemon syrup and candied lemon slices), these cupcakes were everything I had dreamed of for my birthday cupcakes this year.

So between the Lion King, the zoo, an incredibly soul satisfying dinner and these cupcakes, turning a year was an absolute breeze. And I have a feeling dreaming of a fluffy dark chocolate cake I might be making for my next birthday might help the coming year go by a lot easier and sweeter.

Lemon and Brown Sugar Cupcakes [adapted from Nigel Slater’s The Kitchen Diaries]

Note: The recipe might seem a little finicky with four different components but it really just is a lot of combining lemon juice, sugar and water. I fiddled around with an icing, iced half the cupcakes and left the other half as they were. And I have to say, I kinda preferred the un-iced cupcakes to the iced ones, for their pure unadulterated lemon notes. (Note to self: Do not fiddle with recipes when they come from Nigel Slater. They work beautifully just as they are.)

Lemon and Brown Sugar Cupcakes III

200g unsalted butter
200g light brown sugar
90g plain flour
90g ground almonds
1/2 tsp baking powder
Zest of 1 large lemon
4 eggs, at room temperature
1/2 tsp limoncello

2 tbsp light brown sugar
Juice of one large lemon

100g icing sugar, sifted
Couple drops of lemon juice

6 thin lemon slices, halved
2 tbsp light brown sugar
4 tbsp water

  1. To make cupcakes Preheat the oven at 175C. Line a cupcake tray with cupcake liners and set aside. Beat the butter and light brown sugar with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Add the eggs in, one at a time. Add the limoncello and beat until well combined. Add the flour, ground almonds, baking powder and lemon zest. Fold them in until just combined.
  2. Bake for about 20 to 25 minutes or until the skewer inserted into the middle of the cupcakes comes out with dry crumbs clinging and the top of cupcakes spring back when pressed lightly.
  3. To make syrup Combine the light brown sugar and lemon juice in a small bowl. Using a pastry brush, brush the syrup onto the cupcakes while they’re still warm.
  4. To make icing Combine the sifted icing sugar with just enough lemon juice to form a thick icing. Spoon a teapsoon of the icing onto each cupcake when the cupcakes have cooled completely and spread the icing evenly.
  5. To make topping Heat the lemon slices, light brown sugar and water in a saucepan until the mixture starts to simmer. Let the mixture simmer until almost all the sugar syrup has evaporated and the lemon slices are slightly browned and sticky. Top onto the iced cupcakes. Makes 12 cupcakes
Leave a comment


  1. I missed your birthday>?? SO that zoo trip was all about celebrating you birthday.. hmm. WISHING YOU A BELATED BIRTHDAY AND A FANTASTIC BAKING YEAR AHEAD.
    CUp cakes sensational as ever!!!

  2. Happy birthday!

    I too love birthdays. For many years my birthday cake of choice was lemon. Perhaps I should bake these to revive the tradition…despite having a February birthday ;)

  3. Happy Birthday Laureen! Seems like you have a wonderful birthday! Mine is just like any other day except the fun part of making a cake for myself :)

  4. Well Happy Birthday! That cupcake looks awesome. Also that cupcake lining is a bit unique as I havent seen one of those, I usally use the ribbed ones.

  5. You should probably practice that chocolate cake a few times before next year, just to make sure you get it right….

  6. Happy Birthday, Laureen. This is a very adult looking cup cake totally fitting for a grown up girl! :)

    • Hi Anita, thanks! Yeap this year, my birthday was all about the zoo and I couldn’t have asked for a better day :D

      Thank you, m.d kitchen! You don’t need a birthday or a reason to have cake, especially lemon cake, if you ask me! ;)

      Hi HHB, thanks! I did have such a wonderful birthday indeed :)

      Hey rsmacaalay :) Thank you! I got it from a local baking supply store- I love how they look but they’re impossible to peel off the cupcakes!

      What a brilliant idea, Andrea! :lol:

      Thanks, Shirley! :)

  7. Hee you sound like a person after my own heart! I love it when my birthday comes around too, but I’m the reverse – my celebrations have become smaller and more subdued as I grow older. Anyway I really like the napkin you placed your cupcake on – it really matches with the whole citrusy thing and the photo looks really good :)

  8. Happy Birthday Laureen! No matter how many birthdays you have gone through, you’re still young in my eyes. Hahaha… So lively and cheerful!
    Looks like you can’t get enough of animals! Hey, Lion King is really worth watching? I was still hesitating. However, you’ve sort of convince me to go…
    Ah yes, you’re a very fortunate young lady! :)

  9. Hi Laureen, I have an award for you, do pick it up from my blog, cheers!

  10. Belated Happy Birthday! Those cupcakes look like an ideal way to celebrate!

    • Thanks, Janine! Subdued celebrations or not, there’s no reason not to celebrate when birthdays come around if you ask me ;)

      Hey Jane :) Aw, thank you! The Lion King really was worth going to- I’ve actually seen it thrice now and loved it just as much the third time round as I did the first two times :D

      Thanks, HHB– hopping right over to check it out! :D

      Thank you, Maris! Can never quite go wrong with cupcakes :)

  11. Happy B’day Laureen!
    It’s like only yesterday when i read your red kitchenaid for last b’day!

  12. I feel like this spring is all about lemons for me. I’m craving lemon pastries and pies–recently made a lemon icebox pie and pretty much ate the whole thing myself. These will be on my list!

    BTW, new reader, loving it. Adding you to my feed :)

    • Thanks, cookie! That was actually two years ago- man, I feel really olddd! :(

      Hi Bee, welcome and thank you! Lemon icebox pie sounds absolutely delicious!

  13. Now look at what you’ve done … you have me seriously craving for a piece of this
    Looks fantastic

  14. A cupcake with limoncello. I love it. Those are seriously the coolest cupcakes I’ve seen.


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