Lemon Bars

Lemon Bars, the silver lining in this never ending summer. 

Summer is almost over… YAY!!

Lemon Bars

Yes, I know that’s an unpopular opinion, but summer isn’t my season. I’m a sweaty Betty (shockingly that isn’t a Mad Men reference), I require a lot of air conditioning, and I look fabulous in a winter hat. Two weeks ago I painted my nails dark purple in protest of the 90° heat. In summary, I can’t wait for the temperature to cool down and the leaves to fall. 

There is one summery dessert that I love—Lemon Bars. 

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Cranberry Lemon Bread

Cranberry Lemon Bread is what happens when I have extra cranberries lying around and lemons are on sale. 

Cranberry Lemon Bread

After an overzealous trip to Costco a few months ago, I have a gargantuan bag of dried cranberries hanging out in my pantry. The bag is so humungo that even a cranberry enthusiast would say, “Hey, take it easy with those cranberries.” To correct the errors of my ways—and free up some room in my kitchen—I put a summery twist on a dried fall fruit and made Cranberry Lemon Bread.

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Raspberry Lemon Cupcakes

I figured we would start with the best.

Raspberry Lemon Cupcake

When I first started baking on my own, I discovered the lovely blog My Baking Addiction. If you go through her recipe index, I’ve probably tried half of her cupcakes. While all her recipes are delicious, there is one that will make you believe in heaven.

I have made these Raspberry Lemon Cupcakes at least 10 different times, and they never last longer than a few days. That’s because the secret ingredient is crack. No, not really, but if you saw how my friends and family react whenever I make them, then you might’ve believed me.

What actually makes these cupcakes so addictive are the details in the recipe. You use cake flour instead of all purpose flour to make the cake fluffy and light. You blend raspberries to make the frosting have a gorgeous pink color. And you hand press the lemon zest and sugar together to make your kitchen smell like the French countryside.

While the recipe is a bit involved, the results are so worth it. Below are a few pictures of the process and then the full recipe. Although it may seem tempting, try not to lick the screen as you scroll through.

Let’s start with the ingredients for the lemon cake and the raspberry frosting.

Mixing batter

Starting with just lemon zest and sugar, the finished batter is white and velvety.

Lemon Cupcakes

You can see pieces of lemon zest in the finished cupcake. What’s not to love about that?

Beating raspberry frosting

Time for the frosting. Beat* in the blended raspberry for that brilliant pink color.

*Personal Admission #3: No, I do not have a stand mixer. Yes, I would do dark things to have one. In the meantime, I just count baking with a hand mixer as a bicep workout. And that is how you make lemons into lemonade.

Raspberry Lemon Cupcakes

Frost and if you add points for presentation, add a raspberry on top. Then, immediately devour.

For the Lemon Cake

  • 2 1/4 cups cake flour
  • 1tbs. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 1/4 cups buttermilk
  • 4 large egg whites
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • lemon zest from 2 lemons
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter (room temp.)
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp. lemon extract
  1. Preheat oven to 350° and line two cupcake trays.
  2. Sift together flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl.
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk together buttermilk and egg whites.
  4. In a large mixing bowl, press sugar and lemon zest together with your hands until moist.
  5. Add butter and beat on medium speed for 3 full minutes.
  6. Beat in extracts.
  7. Add one third of the flour mixture to the butter mixture, then add half of the milk mixture. Make sure to blend thoroughly after each addition.  Add another third of the flour, then the rest of the milk. Lastly, add the remaining flour.
  8. Beat the batter for an addition two minutes to ensure it is well mixed. Remove any lemon zest that may have clumped together on the beaters and integrate it back into the batter.
  9. Fill cups half way and bake for 18-20 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean. The batter makes 24 cupcakes.

For the Raspberry Frosting

  • 3/4 cup raspberries
  • 1 cup unsalted butter (room temp.)
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 cup shortening
  • 1 tbs. clear vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 pounds powdered sugar
  • 4 tbs. cold milk
  1. Blend raspberries. Push the raspberry puree through a mesh sieve (I just used my mesh sifter) to remove seeds.
  2. Cream butter, shortening, and salt.
  3. Add vanilla extract and raspberry puree.
  4. Add powdered sugar in small doses. Mix well after each addition.
  5. Slowly add milk and beat frosting at medium-high speed.