This Lemon Poppy seed cupcake recipe is one of the prettiest, easiest, most delicious cupcakes I´ve ever made! Poppy seed and Lemon are match made in heaven, don´t you think? These cupcakes are moist, fluffy, tender with incredible aromatic lemon flavour, packed with poppy seed, filled with tangy lemon curd, covered a quick light frosting. A must try cupcake recipe if you are a lemon or poppy seed fan!
Poppy seed has a special place in my heart, it reminds me of my childhood in Hungary having plenty of desserts with ground poppy seed. Actually I met the lemon poppy seed flavour combination in this format quite late as an adult, when I moved to London. I immediately fell in love with it, it is just phenomenal as the tangy lemon meets the deep, nutty poppy seed!
My Top 5 Baking Tips for home bakers
- Read the recipe carefully including my tips and recommendations on how to avoid and fix typical issues during baking. Not much issue is expected during making these Lemon Poppy seed cupcakes however still worth to read my tips if you want the best results especially around making the frosting and assembling the cupcakes
- Avoid using substitutes and changing the recipe unless you are aware of how to fully reformulate the recipe in order to keep the balance in texture as well as flavour. Reducing sugar, replacing egg, using low fat cream etc. will all have an impact on this Lemon Poppy seed cupcake recipe. I do not have substitutes for egg, flour and sugar
- For consistent, happy baking experience always measure your ingredients with the help of a Digital scale. Cup measurement is provided as an indicative figure only and might be used for less complex and large batch recipes however it is not an appropriate method if you want consistent results. A little bit too much of this, too little of that can easily change the recipe can result in dry cupcakes
- Did you know that most home ovens can significantly under or oven run? Also, oven temperature hugely drops when opening the oven door therefore it is recommended to always pre-heat the oven above the required baking temperature.
- Temperature is so important when it comes to baking and accurate oven temperature is key, can make or break any recipe. Make sure you invest into an inexpensive Digital oven thermometer to avoid under baked or dry Lemon Poppy seed cupcakes
Some important notes regarding the INGREDIENTS of this Lemon Poppy seed cupcakes recipe
For the Poppy seed cupcakes
- Butter: Use always unsalted as you want to be in control of the quantity of the salt. I am using 82% fat content butter in all my cupcake recipes. In this Poppy seed cupcake recipe 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 temp of the butter is a very important factor when it comes to 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 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 seed: Poppy seed will be used to make these Lemon Poppy seed cupcakes. Poppy seed will bring a beautiful color and nutty flavour to the cupcakes
- Salt: An essential ingredient in most of the dessert recipes. Balances flavour 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 a lemon 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 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 incredible creamy, tangy, buttery and the perfect filling for your poppy seed cupcakes. 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 store ever again!
For the 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: Icing 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
5 tips regarding the TECHNIQUE of making Poppy seed cupcakes with lemon curd filling
1. How to make poppy seed cupcakes
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: This is such an easy cupcake recipe, it literally comes together in a few minutes. However you have to pay attention to the ingredients. Room temperature ingredients encourages proper emulsification of the cupcake batter therefore make sure that butter, egg, milk are all on room temperature. Key thing is not to overmix the cupcake butter. Once you cream butter and sugar with an Electric hand mixer , I suggest to switch 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. Do not overmix!
2. Do not overfill your cupcake tin: For this Poppy seed cupcake recipe I recommend to fill 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. If want to bake 12 cupcakes please double the recipe
2. 7 tips you should know to make moist cupcakes
1. Do not change the Ingredients
I suggest not to change the recipe ingredients unless you are an expert and know how to fully reformulate it. If you decide to leave out egg or choose to go for dairy-free, gluten-free, sugar-free etc. , I can almost guarantee that it will result in 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 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 and they 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 with 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 is 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 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 little 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 on room temperate while making these Lemon Poppy seed 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 results in dry texture. Make sure you invest into an inexpensive Digital oven thermometer to be able to measure your oven temp correctly. If cupcakes were browning, bake them on a lower position or decrease over temp by 5C next time .
6. Might apply soaking syrup
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 wit syrup that fits with the flavour eg. lemon syrup in our 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 – in the fridge.
3. How to make lemon curd filling
Making the lemon curd filling for this Lemon Poppy seed cupcakes recipe is super easy and brings strong natural citrus flavor to the nutty poppy seed. I have a very detailed lemon curd tutorial with tons of tips that you must check in here .
The process is the following:
- Place 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 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 cubes 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 in fridge for a week although it will be gone much quick
It is very important that you let the lemon curd cool down before using. 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 temp otherwise they might melt together making a mess.
4. How to make the frosting to decorate these Lemon Poppy seed cupcakes
This frosting is super simple, it consist 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 butter cream!
Using the right ingredients on the right temperature is extremely important while making whipped mascarpone frosting.
1. mascarpone has to be cold, use the full fat version (41%+) 2. heave 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. icing 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 over beat 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 frosting 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
5. How to assemble these Lemon Poppy seed cupcakes
I recommend to make the lemon curd as it needs to set in the fridge for a few hours. Meanwhile, bake the cupcakes first. Once poppy seed cupcakes 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 it lemon curd filling. Before filling, make sure that neither 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 cupcake that is 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
That´s it! Your Lemon Poppy seed cupcakes are ready!
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.
RECIPE CARD - Lemon & Poppy seed cupcake
- 65 g lemon juice freshly squeezed, approx. 2 lemons but measure with digital scale
- 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 at room temperature
- 35 g Icing sugar
- 120 g Heavy Cream
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 lemon curd as per instructions in this post
Continue with poppy seed cupcakes
- 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 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. 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 cooled to room temperature as well as lemon curd set, make a small hole on each of the cupcakes and fill it with lemon curd
- For the frosting beat mascarpone, heavy cream and powder sugar until smooth and fluffy, about one or two minute 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 cupcakes in the fridge