These crazy moist Lemon Poppy seed cupcakes are the prettiest, easiest, most delicious cupcakes you will ever make! Poppy seeds and Lemon are match-made in heaven, the perfect cupcake flavor combination you must try! These cupcakes are fluffy, tender with incredible aromatic lemon flavor, packed with poppy seeds, filled with tangy lemon curd, covered with an easy whipped mascarpone frosting.
7 Pro tips to make crazy moist cupcakes
1. Do not change the Ingredients
I suggest not to change the recipe ingredients unless you are an expert and aware of how to fully reformulate it. If you decide to leave out eggs or choose to go for dairy-free, gluten-free, sugar-free etc., I can almost guarantee that it will result in an imbalance in the ingredients making the poppy seed cupcakes either too dry or too crumbly or too wet or too oily, etc. in their texture. It is absolutely possible to make moist “free-from” cupcakes but that requires a totally new recipe instead of skipping certain ingredients
2. Use the Secret ingredient
I call it the secret ingredient, it is not really secret though since I share this tip in all my muffin recipes. Once the cupcake batter comes together – before baking – mix a small amount of (½ teaspoon) white vinegar with a small amount of (½ teaspoon) baking soda. The mixture will foam a bit, then quickly fold it into the cupcake butter – I promise this will make cupcakes airy and much lighter than cupcakes you are used to. These cupcakes will stay super moist and tender even after days if they ever last that long.
3. Learn the Technique
You very much have to be careful not over beating your cupcake butter. It might be tempting to pour everything into a stand mixer but please make sure to use a Hand whisk from the point when butter and sugar are already creamed. Beating the muffin batter too hard can result in too much gluten development and we don´t want that.
4. Be precise while measuring your ingredients
For a consistent, happy baking experience always measure your ingredients with the help of a Digital scale. Cup measurement is inaccurate and not an appropriate way to measure ingredients. Just a little bit too much dry ingredients (eg. flour) or too few wet ingredients (eg. milk) can easily ruin your cupcakes` texture and make them dry.
5. Pay attention to temperature
Make sure all your ingredients are at room temperate while making these Lemon Poppyseed cupcakes. If your butter is too hard, your milk or egg is too cold, they won´t emulsify properly with the rest of the ingredients resulting in unappealing texture on your cupcakes. When it comes to temperature, oven temp is also super important as baking these cupcakes on too high temp or for too long can result in a dry texture. Make sure you invest in an inexpensive Digital oven thermometer to be able to measure your oven temp correctly.
6. Might apply soaking syrup
The soaking syrup is a common trick people use to make their cakes moist, you can use the same method for cupcakes. It is not mandatory and I don´t use it in this Lemon Poppy seed cupcake recipe but you can always brush the top of the cupcakes or even drizzle them with syrup that fits with the flavor eg. lemon syrup in this case
7. Storage the cupcakes correctly
Once cupcakes are well baked and beautifully frosted, the appropriate storage is definitely something you have to bear in mind to avoid dry cupcakes. Instead of leaving them on a plate, store cupcakes in a container with a tight-fitting lid on – in the fridge.
For the Poppy seed muffins
- Butter: Use always unsalted as you want to be in control of the quantity of the salt. I am using European-style 82% fat content butter in all my cupcake recipes. In this Poppyseed muffin recipe, the butter needs to be at room temperature which technically means soft enough to be able to cream but not too soft or runny so avoid last-minute microwaving. The right consistency and temperature of the butter is a very important factor when it comes to the cupcake texture, so please make sure you leave the butter out on the kitchen counter to soften for a few hours before using it
- Granulated Sugar: Standard, all-purpose granulated or white sugar is perfectly fine for making cupcakes, nothing fancy. If you want to learn about the different types of sugar and how to use them in baking, please read my article in here
- Egg: Room temperature as always
- Flour: All-purpose flour or pastry flour makes the best cupcakes. They are so-called “soft flour” which are low on protein resulting in a delicate, tender texture. It is always a good idea to sift your flour as it tends to form lumps. If you want to be a Pro when it comes to deciding what type of flour to use in your baking, please read my article in here
- Poppy seeds: Poppyseed will be used to make these Lemon Poppy seed cupcakes. Poppy seeds will bring a beautiful color and nutty flavor to the cupcakes
- Salt: An essential ingredient in most dessert recipes. Balances flavor and enhances other ingredients
- Baking powder: Has two functions: increase the volume and lighten the texture
- Milk: Room temperature whole milk is the best
- Lemon zest: One of my favorite ingredients to flavor cupcakes, even a small amount makes the cupcakes wonderfully fragrant. It is a must to make these Lemon Poppy seed cupcakes
- White vinegar+baking soda: The SECRET ingredients to make cupcakes super moist and tender even after days, the exact opposite of those sad-looking dry ones from the supermarkets
For the lemon curd filling
- Lemon: Using lemon and lemon zest makes the desserts wonderfully flavorful and aromatic. These Lemon Poppy seed cupcakes will be filled with lemon curd. Make sure you use fresh, organic lemon (or one which has no chemicals on the skin) and only grate the yellow part of the skin, not the white. First, take the zest off then simply squeeze the juice out. The recipe is given in grams as the amount of juice that comes out of lemons can greatly vary!
- Granulated sugar: Use normal white granulated sugar, nothing fancy or expensive. In this lemon curd recipe, the curd will be tangy and not overly sweet, which is my preference for lemon desserts. Feel free to adjust the quantity of the sugar for your taste
- Egg: Room temperature as always and use only the yolk, which will thicken the curd. If you wonder what to do with the leftover egg white, why not try my macaron recipe or perhaps my Angel food cake recipe? Some other recipes out there use the whole egg, I prefer using yolk only for a few reasons: 1. Colour 2. Texture 3. Easier to cook and less likely to end up like scrambled egg
- Butter: Use always unsalted. The butter makes the lemon curd incredible rich and creamy
I have a whole detailed Guide about how to make the perfect lemon curd filling. My lemon curd recipe is incredibly creamy, tangy, buttery, and the perfect filling for your poppy seed muffins. Please make sure you read my instructions in this post carefully. Making lemon curd takes less than 10 minutes, once you try it, you will never buy it from the store ever again!
For the whipped mascarpone frosting
- Mascarpone: Very rich Italian cream cheese, exceptionally smooth and easily to spread, or whip. The flavor is milky and slightly sweet. Use at room temperature
- Heavy cream: Heavy cream, also known as whipping cream or double cream has a fat content between 36% and 40% , I use 36% in all my recipes. Use it very cold and do not substitute with vegetable based “whipping cream”
- Icing sugar / Powdered sugar: Powdered sugar is the first choice when it comes to whipping up frosting. Question I often get is whether the quantity is a typo. NO, it´s not! You do not actually need a lot of sugar when you are using mascarpone! Instead, let the mascarpone and cream shine. See my tips below for whipping up the perfect cupcake frosting
4 Expert tips
1. How to make poppy seed muffins
This is a super simple poppy seed muffin recipe that makes 6 wonderful tall bakery-style cupcakes. The recipe can be doubled or halved easily.
There are 2 important considerations to bear in mind while making the cupcakes:
1. Do not overmix the cupcake batter: Key thing is not to overmix the cupcake butter. Once you cream butter and sugar with an electric hand mixer, I suggest switching to Hand whisk. Add in the egg, then mix for a few seconds, then add in dry (flour+poppy seed+baking powder+salt) and wet (milk) ingredients in 4 steps: wet, dry, wet, dry, that keeps the mixture well blended. Make sure you finish with dry ingredients. Please note that room temperature ingredients encourage proper emulsification of the cupcake batter therefore make sure that butter, egg, milk are all at room temperature.
2. Do not overfill your cupcake tin: For this Poppyseed cupcake recipe, I recommend filling your cupcake tin until ¾. The recipe is designed to make 6 tall cupcakes. Cupcake cases are coming in different sizes in terms of their height, try to buy the taller ones. If you overfill your cupcake tin it will result in “mushroom-style” cupcakes! On the other hand, if you don´t fill it enough, they will rise but will stay tiny
2. How to make lemon curd filling
Making the lemon curd filling for this Lemon Poppy seed cupcakes recipe is super easy and brings a strong natural citrus flavor to the nutty poppy seed. I have a very detailed lemon curd tutorial with tons of tips that I suggest you check out!
The process is the following:
- Place fresh lemon juice, egg yolk, and sugar in a heatproof bowl over a pan of simmering water (double boiler) and cook the curd over medium-high heat whisking constantly. Whisking is important to avoid egg yolks from curdling
- After about 8-10 minutes the mixture starts to thicken like custard. I find the temperature at this stage is around 80C/176C
- Remove the curd from the heat and to be on the safe side, pour the cooked curd through a sieve so you will get rid of any potential egg bits in there
- With a rubber spatula mix in room temperature butter in small chunks, one by one makes sure each cube is fully incorporated before adding the next. If you have a blender, blend butter into curd, if not, make sure you fully incorporate it with your spatula
- Fold the zest in. Make sure you won´t leave the zest out, it will give so much flavor!
- Pour curd into a jar and place plastic wrap directly on top so it is touching the top of the curd. (This prevents skin forming on top.) The curd will continue to thicken as it cools in the fridge
- Store it in the fridge for a week although it will be gone much quick
You will have to use the curd to fill the cupcakes and it is important that both the cupcakes as well as the curd are either cold or at least room temperature otherwise they might melt together making a mess.
4. How to make whipped mascarpone frosting
This frosting is super simple, it consists of heavy cream, mascarpone, and a small amount of icing sugar whipped until fluffy, pipeable consistency. It is creamy, milky, a super stable frosting, and way more delicious and less sweet than buttercream!
Using the right ingredients at the right temperature is extremely important while making whipped mascarpone frosting.
1. Mascarpone should be cold, use the full-fat version (41%+) 2. Heavy creamy needs to be very cold (pop it into the freezer for a few minutes before using it) and again, full fat version so anywhere between 36-40% 3. Powdered sugar has to be sifted to avoid lumps 4. do not over whip the mixture
Basically you will have to whip the mixture with an electric hand mixer for a minute or two until it reaches a creamy, fluffy consistency, then stop. It won´t get more stiff after this point, in fact if you overbeat it, it will get only runnier then it will break. I don´t use my standmixer to whip this frosting since it is really easy to over whip it.
Once you are happy with the consistency of your frosting, move it into a piping bag fitted with your favourite nozzle tip, the one I am using is Wilton 1M piping nozzle tip decorate these lovely Lemon Poppy seed cupcakes.
TIP: If you do not have mascarpone, feel free to replace it with full-fat cream cheese and make cream cheese frosting instead.
4. How to assemble the cupcakes
I recommend making the lemon curd first, as it needs to set in the fridge for a few hours. Meanwhile, bake the cupcakes. Once the poppy seed muffins and also the lemon curd filling is cooled or at least on room temp, prepare the whipped mascarpone frosting as per instructions.
- Make a small hole on each of the poppy seed cupcakes and fill them lemon curd. Before filling, make sure that neither the cupcake nor the filling is warm
- Pipe frosting on top of each cupcake. I am using Wilton 1M piping nozzle tip. Very important that you never frost cupcakes that are warm as that would melt the frosting
- Before serving, decorate the cupcakes with more poppy seed and edible flowers
- Store the cupcakes in fridge in container with lid on
More cupcake recipe ideas
Strawberry & Cream cupcakes – Moist vanilla cupcakes filled with strawberry sauce and decorated with a phenomenal whipped cream frosting and strawberries. A wonderful strawberry cupcake recipe with cream. It is creamy, moist, fruity, sweet but very well balanced in sweetness with full of natural strawberry flavors.
Apple Pie cupcakes - Love marriage between Cupcake and Apple pie! Melt in your mouth cupcakes with the most delicious, aromatic apple pie filling, super moist, creamy and full of fall delicious spices you love.
Epic Tiramisu cupcakes - This tiramisu cupcake recipe is dream come true for coffee and tiramisu lovers! Coffee soaked melt in your mouth cupcakes with creamy mascarpone frosting on top dusted with cocoa powder! Cupcakes can´t really get any better than this!
Chocolate & Caramel cupcakes - This chocolate caramel cupcake recipe is moist and tender filled with sticky and buttery home made caramel and covered with my favorite super light caramel& mascarpone cream frosting.
Lemon Poppy seed cupcakes
- 65 g Fresh Lemon juice freshly squeezed, juice of approx. 2 lemons but measure it
- 2 Egg yolks
- 90 g Granulated sugar
- 1-2 Lemon zest Zest of the lemons squeezed before
- 65 g Unsalted butter room temperature
- 150 g Mascarpone
- 35 g Icing sugar sifted
- 120 g Heavy Cream very cold
US customary cup measurement is an indicative figure only. Measure the ingredients with a digital scale by weight (gram). Baking is art but also science which requires precision and accuracy.
Make the lemon curd filling
- Start with making the filling, follow my lemon curd recipe and let it cool
Continue with poppy seed muffins
- Heat oven to 175 C / 347°F
- With an Electric hand mixer beat room temperature soft butter and sugar together until pale and fluffy then beat the egg in. Do not overbeat
- Sift flour, salt and baking powder together then add poppy seed, this is the “dry ingredients”, while the room temperature milk is your "wet ingredient"
- Start adding the dry and wet ingredients into the cupcake batter in the following 4 steps: wet, dry, wet, dry. Fold with a Rubber spatula fold each time
- Fold in lemon zest
- Mix vinegar and baking soda together in a small bowl, it will be super bubbly. Immediately fold the mixture into the cupcake batter. This is the secret ingredient to keep the cupcakes soft for days without the taste of vinegar of course!
- Spoon or Pipe the mixture into Cupcake pan till approx. ¾. This recipe makes 6 large cupcakes
- Bake for 25 min or until a skewer inserted comes out clean then let them cool on Cooling rack
- Once cupcake coosled to room temperature and lemon curd sets, make a small hole on each of the cupcakes and fill it with lemon curd
- For the frosting beat mascarpone, very cold heavy cream, and powder sugar until smooth and fluffy, about one or two minutes with Electric hand mixer. Once it has reached the right consistency, do not overbeat as it can become runny.
- Move frosting into a piping bag and pipe frosting onto room temperature cupcakes, I am using Wilton 1M piping nozzle tip
- Dust with some more poppy seed and decorate with edible flower
- Store in fridge