Ah, summer, we hardly knew you. While the days are still warm and the farmer’s markets continue to overflow with juicy fruits and plump berries, the chill of fall is not too far off. With the ‘unofficial end of summer’ upon us we say goodbye to shorts and flip flops and hello to boots, sweaters, tailored coats, cute hats, colorful scarves, a veritable rainbow of tights, and…well, I suppose it’s obvious which season I favor.
But the flavors of summer will surely be missed. Namely all the sweet, ripe fruits so readily available during those hot months. These lemon cupcakes are filled with a strawberry puree and topped with cream cheese frosting and a crown of blueberries. Yes, blueberries, strawberries, and lemons are pretty much accessible year round, but there’s something about that flavor combination that just screams summertime. Autumn has not taken over yet though, so there’s still time to enjoy these sweet, tangy treats — and their colors lend themselves perfectly to a patriotic celebration like Labor Day. And is it just me or do these cupcakes produce a distinct smiley face when sliced open? It’s totes not just me. Accidental adorableness.
This cake actually has many hidden talents because it is super duper versatile. I basically ended up doing lemon cake three ways (that reads wrong, but you get it…right?) — sadly, I only photographed two of the ways. The aforementioned strawberry-filled variety started off with one dozen baked and cooled lemon cakes. The same batter had been used a day earlier, but I folded in blueberries, baked the cupcakes, and topped them with a simple fluffy vanilla frosting. Delish, but no photographic evidence. Use your imagination.
So much delicious zesty lemon-ness perforates these cupcakes and it contrasts delightfully with the sweet, fruity strawberry filling. Turns out, when you toss sliced strawberries with a little sugar and lemon juice they slowly become a fantastic syrupy concoction. With a little help from the trusty food processor, the macerated berries blend into a perfect filling to nestle inside hollowed out cupcakes. I placed the top back on each filled cupcake and sealed it with a thin layer of frosting before piling on a large dollop of even more frosting and three little blueberries to finish it off. The cream cheese in the frosting makes for a cloud-like consistency and that classic tangy zip that you can never quite put your finger on.
Festive, delicious, and fun, these cupcakes are a great way to send off summer with a bang. Plus, the strawberry filling makes for a pleasant surprise upon first bite. Oh, and that third way to use the lemon cake batter?…
Glazed blueberry lemon loaf! Perfect for a sweet breakfast or an afternoon pick-me-up. Pour that same trusty lemon cake batter (this time studded with blueberries) into loaf pans and bake away! Mix powdered sugar with milk until it reaches a glaze-like consistency and drizzle it over the cooling cakes. This one-two punch of summer tastiness will make those poolside memories last long after the leaves begin to fall.