Glazed Lemon Cakes

Lemon Cakes

I have a raging sweet tooth and it usually reveals itself late at night. Usually I can be good and satisfy it with one of those 100 calorie packs of cookies, but sometimes only a real dessert will satisfy me. Because of that I always look for quick and simple dessert recipes to have in my arsenal that I can whip up in about an hour or two. Friday night was one such night, but I was not in the mood for any of usual chocolate recipes. I wanted something completely different. So I looked through my newest cookbook and found this recipe for glazed lemon cupcakes. They did not disappoint. Very sweet and moist and definitely a nice change of pace if your not in the mood for chocolate. Even the glaze part, which I’m usually very wary of (I’ve had some BAD experiences making icing before) was super easy to whip up. I just poured it right over the cakes, I didn’t even bother to spread it around on all of them, it pretty much did all the work itself.

The one thing I did learn from the whole experience is that I do not have the right kind of tool to zest a lemon. Unsurprisingly, using a cheese grater doesn’t really work. I tried to chop it up even finer after I grated it, but I still found large-ish pieces of zest in the cakes. I imagine the whole point of zest is that you don’t actually know it’s in there? Yeah, so FAIL on that. Google says I need a microplane grater, so there’s another kitchen tool I need that I don’t have room for in my tiny kitchen. I say, if you don’t have the tool to get the zest really fine, don’t bother putting it in there. The lemon juice in the cakes and in the glaze gives them more than enough lemon favor.

Lemon Cakes

Glazed Lemon Cakes

adapted from Everyday Food: Great Food Fast from the kitchens of Martha Stewart Living

Dessert | Servings: about 6 jumbo muffins or 12-14 regular-sized muffins
Prep time: 20 min | Cook time: 20 min | Total time: 45 min


  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 cup low-fat buttermilk or plain low-fat yogurt
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • Finely grated zest and juice of 1 lemon, plus 2 tbsp. of lemon juice for the glaze
  • 1/2 cup (4 oz. – 1 stick ) butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees (F). Butter and flour (or if you are lazy like me, just use non-stick spray) a muffin tin. The recipe recommends a 6-cup jumbo muffin tin, but I don’t have one of those, so I just used a 12-cup regular sized muffin tin and had enough batter left over to make about 10 mini-muffins (I bought the mini muffin tin, I might as well get some use out of it).
  2. In a medium bowl whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt.
  3. In a small bowl whisk together the buttermilk (I used the yogurt instead), vanilla, lemon juice and zest. Set aside.
  4. With an electric mixer cream the butter and sugar until light. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating after each addition. With the mixer on low speed, add the flour mixture in three batches, alternating with the buttermilk mixture.
  5. Divide evenly among the muffin cups. Bake 20-25 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes in the tin, then cool completely on a wire rack.
  6. Lemon Cakes - The Glaze

    Set the rack over wax or parchment paper. In a small bowl (or better yet, a measuring cup or something that will allow you to pour more easily) stir confectioners sugar and 2 tbsp. of lemon juice until smooth (I added about another tablespoon to make it easier to pour). Pour over cakes, spreading with knife. Let set 30 minutes before serving.

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  1. Your recipe looks great, but the ingredient list says “Baking powder” and then your instructions talk about “baking soda.” So…now I guess I’ll go look up the original recipe on Martha Stewart’s website?

  2. Oops, sorry about that. The ingredients list is right, it’s baking powder, I accidentally typed soda when I was writing out the instructions. I fixed it! Thanks for letting me know.

  3. Niall Harbison

    I Love that icing and have used it many times in the past! It just doesn’t get any easier than that! It has got me out of a lot of holes over the years when looking for a quick garnish!

  4. The icing dripping through the trying rack is mesmerizing!

  5. Wow – this was deja vu! Just two days ago I made something soooooo similar, it was like looking at my own photos! LOL. I’m a first time visitor to your blog but I like what I see.

    Have a delicious day!

  6. Paula Deen has a recipe a lot like this, but hers uses cake mix as the base. I’ve made them a few times (here) and they go quickly! FWIW, I think the microplane is well worth the investment. You can get small ones that don’t take up much room, and it just makes zesting sooooo much easier. I’ve used mine on cheese, chocolate and even garlic too!

  7. I second the pro-Microplane sentiments! It’s a grater you’ll use again and again for your zesting and grating needs. I use it for the lemon pudding cake recipe on Epicurious. SImply put, the Microplane does the job so well – quickly, easily, precisely – that you’ll never go back to a conventional grater again. And it makes zesting almost…fun!