I would say I’m going through a lemon phase right now, but let’s be honest, I am in a COMMITTED relationship with lemons at this point. These lemon cupcakes are derived from one of my favorite recipes on the blog, my Vegan Grapefruit Olive Oil Cake. I took that recipe, replaced the grapefruit with lemon, and made them mini too. Get ready for the lightest, most delicate, and delicious Vegan Lemon Olive Oil Cupcakes topped with a homemade vegan vanilla frosting, YUM!
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So what Makes a Cupcake a Cupcake Anyways?
I can’t believe I made it a whole year without a single cupcake recipe on the blog, but I am making up for lost time with these beauties. While I have made a few muffin recipes (hello Vegan Raspberry Jam & Orange Muffins), making cupcakes is actually a bit different. So, I did some research to tell you all a bit more about what actually makes this recipe a CUPCAKE vs. a MUFFIN. Here’s what I found:
- Cupcakes have frosting! Muffins do not. They may have a glaze, but definitely not swirls of frosting.
- Muffins are usually denser and made with oil, cupcakes are usually made by whipping butter with sugar to incorporate air into the batter. (though these cupcakes break this rule!)
- Cupcakes are usually made with pastry/cake flour and are basically mini cakes. Muffins are usually made with all-purpose flour and resemble more of a quick bread.
So there you have it. Through my research and recipe studying this is what makes these cupcakes vs. muffins. However, as you can see with these olive oil cupcakes, sometimes good things happen when you break the rules. There is no butter needed to make these the most perfect tender, fluffy, vegan lemon cupcakes you have ever had!
What you Need to Make This Recipe:
What I really love about making olive oil cupcakes is just how easy they are. No whipping of butter and sugar needed like in a traditional cupcake. No chilling the dough needed like in a cookie recipe. Not to mention that the time you need to bake these is a quarter of the time needed to bake a cake.
All that being said, there are some staples you will want on hand to make these the best cupcakes they can be:
- 12 cup Cupcake/Muffin Tin
- Standard Cupcake Liners. These are crucial for more delicate cupcakes baked with olive oil as they help them hold their structure.
- Pastry/Cake Flour. Remember how I mentioned that’s a key part of making a cupcake a cupcake? Well, it does truly make a difference! I don’t recommend substituting all-purpose flour in this recipe.
- Quality Olive Oil. Lighter olive oils work best, but it’s most important to choose an olive oil that tastes good to you as the flavor will definitely come through to complement the lemon.
Vegan Vanilla Buttercream:
Once you’ve made your cupcakes, there’s only one this left to do- pile them high with lots and lots of frosting. I found a whipped vegan buttercream went really well with these cupcakes as it lends the perfect sweet topping to a semi-tart cupcake. Making vegan frosting at home is super easy. All you need is the ingredients below:
- Vegan Butter. I love Earth Balance or Miyoko’s!
- Vegan Shortening. The only shortening I use is Spectrum Organics because, to the best of my knowledge, they are sustainably farming the palm oil they use. Palm oil farming has unfortunately led to a lot of rainforest destruction. It’s definitely good to be mindful of the source of vegan shortening you are using as most contain palm oil.
- Coconut Cream. This is totally optional, but adding in just a bit (really just 1/2-1 Tbsp) makes for the fluffiest frosting. Coconut cream mimics how whipping cream acts in a traditional buttercream.
- Organic Powdered Sugar! I know I’ve said it before, but just make sure it’s organic or it’s likely not vegan.
- High-quality vanilla. The best part! I love using either Heilala Vanilla Bean Paste or their Pure Ground Vanilla Bean Powder (just a bit adds a ton of flavor).
Whip all these together and you will have the best topping for these Vegan Lemon Olive Oil Cupcakes! PS- I am still in the process of finding a reusable piping bag I like. So, for this recipe, I scooped the frosting into a plastic bag and cut one of the corners to pipe my frosting. While I don’t love single-use plastic, it’s the perfect trick to know if you don’t have a piping bag on hand!
These Vegan Lemon Olive Oil Cupcakes with Vanilla Frosting are sure to brighten up even the gloomiest of days. They are personally my favorite treat to combat some of this dreary rainy weather and even snow we have been getting in Seattle. Enjoy this perfect vegan lemon dessert!