Ginger and Lemon Cupcakes

 These birthday cupcakes were created by an 8-year-old head dessert chef, with me as sous chef. Get cupcake recipes at
I celebrate Twice as Tasty’s birthday every June with special treats and reflections on the past 12 months. But October is a big personal birthday month in my family. My niece Hayley celebrated her 8th birthday last week, and she and her dad made vanilla cupcakes with pink frosting and sprinkles for the occasion. For my birthday this week, Hayley was head dessert chef and I was sous chef, creating a new cupcake recipe inspired by one in American Girl Cupcakes.

If you peruse the Twice as Tasty recipe index, it’s clear that I love ginger desserts. You’ll find recipes for gingerbread pancakes, quick bread, and cookies. I also bake triple-ginger cookies and cake and use ginger in many other sweet and savory recipes. So when Hayley stopped browsing recipes on a page for gingerbread cupcakes, we knew we’d found this year’s Auntie Julie birthday dessert.

Our recipe brings in more ginger and spices, swaps some of the butter out for homemade applesauce, and makes other improvements. Hayley then helped me write the instructions and provided tips and tricks. The results are delicious.

Ready to give it a try? Full details are in the recipe below, but here are the basics:
You need just a bunch of baking staples and spices, plus some applesauce and crystallized ginger.
1. Mix most of the wet ingredients.
2. Mix in the dry ingredients and milk.
3. Bake and cool before decorating.

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Very Ginger Cupcakes

  • Servings: 12
  • Difficulty: 1
  • Print
2 tablespoons unsalted butter at room temperature
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup molasses
1 egg at room temperature
2 tablespoons homemade applesauce
1 teaspoon grated gingerroot
1-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1-1/4 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
pinch of ground cloves
1/3 cup low-fat or whole milk
1 tablespoon finely chopped crystallized ginger

In a large bowl, cream the butter, sugar, and molasses. Beat in the egg, applesauce, and grated ginger.

In a separate bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, ground ginger, nutmeg, salt, and cloves. Measure out the milk. In alternating batches, beat the flour mixture and milk into the butter mixture. Stir in the crystallized ginger until just combined.

Fit paper or silicone cupcake liners into a dozen regular-size (about 2-3/4-inch diameter) muffin cups. Spoon the batter into the lined cups until about two-thirds full.

Bake at 350°F for 20–25 minutes, until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Cool the cupcakes in the muffin cups on a wire rack for 5 minutes, and then remove them from the pan to cool completely on the rack before glazing (see below). Makes 12 cupcakes.

Tips & Tricks
  • The 8-year-old head chef had no problems with the long ingredient list, finding everything in the kitchen, and measuring out so many spices. She suggests that an adult sous chef should grate the fresh ginger and chop the crystallized chunks.
  • You could add the crystallized ginger earlier, but it makes it difficult to tell when all of the flour has been mixed in: As Hayley says, it just stays lumpy. Since it’s easy to overmix the batter, you want to avoid stirring it too long and creating flat, gummy cupcakes.
  • This recipe makes fairly short cupcakes, but that’s a good thing when you start to apply the Lemon and Sugar Glaze. The frosting tends to roll off cupcakes that puff up above the liner, and it’s harder to keep the sprinkles in place.

These birthday cupcakes were created by an 8-year-old head dessert chef, with me as sous chef. Get cupcake recipes at

Twice as Tasty

These birthday cupcakes were created by an 8-year-old head dessert chef, with me as sous chef. Get cupcake recipes at was drawn to the idea of gingerbread cupcakes because of their full flavor, particularly when we added my favorite triple-ginger combo of ground, fresh, and crystallized. But I think it was the topping that caught Hayley’s eye: what kid doesn’t like the idea of decorating cupcakes using cookie cutters and lots of sprinkles? Although I tend toward a richer, less sweet frosting for cupcakes, we thought a lemony sugar glaze would balance all of this cupcake’s spices.

We experimented quite a bit to get the glaze and decorations just right. An overly thin glaze just pooled on the edges of the cupcake liner, but adding too much sugar made it as thick as cookie dough. We settled on a glaze that could barely still be drizzled. For decorating, you need small open cookie cutters that press evenly against the cupcake’s cap. And you need lots of sprinkles. Our prettiest cupcakes were created by using so many sprinkles we had to pour off the excess.

Ready to give it a try? Full details are in the recipe below, but here are the basics:
You need just 3 main ingredients plus cookie cutters and sprinkles.
1. Mix the glaze.
2. Drizzle it on each cupcake.
3. Decorate with sprinkles and enjoy.

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Lemon and Sugar Glaze

  • Servings: 1/2 cup
  • Difficulty: 1
  • Print

3/4 cup powdered sugar
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon lemon zest
sprinkles to decorate

In a small bowl, mix together the sugar, lemon juice, and lemon zest until smooth. If too thin, add a little sugar; if too thick, add a little lemon juice. Drizzle 1 teaspoon of glaze over each ginger cupcake. Let sit for about 5 minutes.

Gently set a small open cookie cutter, smaller than the top of the cupcake, on the glaze. Carefully pour sprinkles into the cookie cutter, using lots of sprinkles. Push them down gently with your fingertips to compress them against the cupcake glaze. Press a small piece of waxed paper against the top of the cookie cutter and quickly turn it upside down, letting the excess sprinkles fall onto the waxed paper. Set the cupcake back upright, and gently pull the cookie cutter off of the glaze. Continue to decorate each cupcake in the same way. Serve immediately, or place in a sealed container in the refrigerator, letting the cupcakes sit at room temperature for a few minutes just before serving. Decorates about 12 cupcakes.

Tips & Tricks
  • We tried many techniques for applying the glaze to the cupcakes. If the glaze is too thin, it rolls to the sides of the cupcakes and collects against the liner. Too thick, and the glaze is stiff like cookie dough. We solved the problem by adding more sugar to thin glaze and more lemon juice to thick frosting until we got the combination just right.
  • As with glazed sourdough cinnamon rolls, the best cupcake glaze could be scooped into a measuring spoon and drizzled. Then we could tilt the cupcake while drizzling to spread the glaze over the top, much like tilting crepe batter in a pan.
  • For the sprinkles, we found it best to pour far too many sprinkles into the cookie cutter, push them down, and then flip everything over onto waxed paper. The extra collected sprinkles could then be poured from the waxed paper onto the next cupcake.

Put Twice as Tasty recipes on your bookshelf: Learn to make fun pickles, salsas, chutneys, and more in my cookbook, The Complete Guide to Pickling. Click here to order a personally signed, packaged, and shipped copy directly from me. I share more tasty treats in The Pickled Picnic, a digital collection in an easy-to-read PDF format. It’s available exclusively through Twice as Tasty.


4 thoughts on “Ginger and Lemon Cupcakes

  1. Pingback: Ginger and Lemon Cupcakes — Twice as Tasty | homethoughtsfromabroad626

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