Step one is to always gather your ingredients and measure into bowls.
Baker's tip: when zesting lemons, make sure you hold the zester stationary and move the lemon. If you move the zester, you'll likely zest your skin. I know from experience! This recipe called for 3 tablespoons of zest, which took 5 lemons. However, it only calls for the juice of about 1 lemon. I probably could have gotten away with zesting one fewer lemon, but I only wanted the outermost portion of the lemon and avoided the pith. The pith is the spongy white layer between the outer skin and the inner pulp, and it is very bitter. I love lemon water, so I don't mind having extra lemons waiting to be juiced.
Once the batter was mixed, I tasted a bit and didn't think it had enough tartness to justify being called lemonade cupcakes, so I added a half cup of sour cream and some lemon extract to kick up the flavor of the cake.
While the cake baked, I made the buttercream filling with unsalted butter, strawberry jam, and confectioner's sugar.
Once it was smooth and creamed, I placed a ziplock bag in a glass, stuffed it with the filling, and set it aside for later.
Now it was time for the strawberry buttercream icing. The color comes from dehydrated strawberries smashed into powder in a food processor. It turned out soft, fluffy, and a pretty pink! I had one empty icing bag in my cabinet for this project.
After the cupcakes cooled completely, it was time to fill them. Use a knife to make a small opening in the cupcake, snip off the corner of the ziplock bag, insert into the cupcake, and fill with about a teaspoon of the strawberry buttercream.
Snip the icing bag and make a swirl of icing. I don't bother with fancy icing tips, but maybe one day I'll learn how to use them.
I wanted to add some yellow to contrast against the pink since the cupcake liners were pink as well, so I added a Lemonhead candy. Cute!
At this point I realized there was a lot of strawberry flavor in this cupcake. So, I decided to fill half of the cupcakes with lemon curd. I needed to get these over to my friend in time for her auction, so I didn't have time to make lemon curd. My lovely husband ran to the grocery store to get a jar of tasty, tangy lemon curd.
I added strawberry slices to the lemon filled cupcakes so that the buyers could tell them apart.
I had a bit of batter left so I decided to make a miniature layer cake for my husband and daughter. I actually don't like very many baked goods, but they do! I baked two miniature cake layers, allowed to cool completely, and cut them across the center to make four layers. I topped the first layer with the strawberry buttercream.
The middle layer was lemon curd.
And then another layer of strawberry buttercream.
I finally topped with the last layer of cake and covered the entire cake with the strawberry icing. I hope my family enjoys this little springtime treat!