Primrose Bakery lemon cupcakes recipe

(242 ratings)

These fresh lemon cupcakes are always very popular at the bakery and also at weddings and baby showers.

  • Nut-free
Preparation Time30 mins
Cooking Time25 mins
Total Time55 mins

These fresh lemon cupcakes are always very popular at the bakery and also at weddings and baby showers. Make sure you use really juicy plump lemons for the best result!


  • 110g unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 225g caster sugar, preferably golden
  • 2 large eggs, free-range or organic
  • 150g self-raising flour
  • 125g plain flour
  • 90ml semi-skimmed milk
  • 30ml freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1tsp (roughly one lemon’s worth) grated lemon zest
  • 1tbsp sour cream

For the buttercream:

  • 115 g unsalted butter, at room temp
  • 30ml freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 tsp Grated Lemon Rind from an unwaxed lemon
  • 500g Icing Sugar, sifted




    1. To make this cupcake recipe, preheat oven to 160deg C (fan)/180 deg C/350 deg F/gas mark 4
    2. Line a 12 hole muffin tray with cupcake cases.
    3. In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugar together until fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, to the creamed butter and sugar and beat well.
    4. In a jug, combine the milk, lemon juice and sour cream. Alternate adding the flours and milk to creamed butter mix as follows - add one-third of the flour and mix well. Add half the milk mixture and mix well. Add another third of flour and mix well. Add the reminder of the milk and mix well. Finish by adding the last third of flour and the lemon zest and beat well.
    5. If the mixture looks like it is curdling slightly, don’t panic – simply add another spoonful of plain flour and beat well.
    6. Spoon out the mixture evenly between the cases and bake in the oven for 25 minutes. Use a cake skewer in the centre of one the cupcakes to check they are cooked through. They will appear quite a light golden brown colour even when cooked.
    7. Leave in the tin for 10 minutes and the place carefully on a wire rack to cool completely.
    8. When the cupcakes are completely cold, they can be iced with the fresh lemon buttercream and decorated with a sugared lemon slice (pots of these are sold in most supermarkets) or some grated peel from a lemon.
    9. Serve immediately or store in an airtight container for up to 3 days at room temperature.
    For the buttercream:
    1. In a large bowl, beat the butter, milk, lemon juice, lemon rind and half the icing sugar until smooth. Gradually add the remainder of the icing sugar and beat until thick and creamy. This can take several minutes.
    2. Use this icing on the lemon cupcakes or to ice the middle and top of the lemon layer cake.
    3. Store any unused icing in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days. Make sure to beat well before re-using.
Top Tip for making Primrose Bakery lemon cupcakes

Why not get the kids to help you out with the icing?

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The founders of Primrose Bakery, Martha Swift and Lisa Thomas originally started off baking their unique cakes for children’s parties, before realising it wasn’t just the kids who loved their deliciously sweet treats. Primrose Bakery was founded in 2004 and started off with just one shop on the famous north London road, Primrose Hill. Fourteen years later, the now sole owner of the brand, Martha, has two other stores - one in Covent Garden and another in Kensington. If you fancy having a go at baking one of their famous cakes yourself, check out the recipe pages for their famous carrot cake or the delicious chocolate cupcakes. You’re sure to find the sweet treat you’re looking for with one of these recipes. As well as the successful Primrose Bakery stores, Martha (and Lisa) have released five best-selling recipe books that are full of simple, foolproof recipes. Once you’ve got the baking down to a tee, why not try one of their signature decorating classes? It’s here that you can learn the Primrose Bakery signature swirl, palette knife techniques and how to create a masterpiece with piping. All of the classes are taught at one of their famous shops by their head chefs. It’s a great day out for the family or a lovely gift for someone special. And the best thing about it…you can take everything home with you to eat!