These easy spring cupcakes are scrumptious lemon vanilla cupcakes topped with a lush coconut buttercream swirl and gorgeous sugar flowers. They’re cute cupcakes for many occasions in spring, including Easter, birthdays, Mother’s day and weddings.
The cupcakes are made with a quick one-bowl lemon-vanilla flavoured batter that tastes moist, soft and oh-so-yummy. I also share tips for preparing coconut oil-based buttercream and show how to put cute sprinkles on the edges of the swirl. But the cupcake decorating fun doesn’t stop there as you’ll also learn how to make cute and EASY sugar flowers that will make cupcakes and other bakes extra lovely and special. This recipe comes with free printable cupcake wrappers, which you can download at the end of the post.
How to makes easy flower/gum paste flowers
Recently, Stacey from The Sugar Coated Cottage shared a tutorial on how to make easy gum paste flowers, and I immediately fell in love with the stylised, clean look of her flowers. Just look at the image below, and you see what I mean. Stacey’s work is incredibly beautiful and if you’re looking for a stunning cake site to stalk and drool over, hers is it!
Stacey chose fresh pastels and a simple 5-petal blossom shape for her spring-inspired gum paste flowers. For the flower centres, she used a dollop of royal icing and colourful hundreds and thousands (nonpareils), which is simply ingenious and really fast to do. Definitely check out her step by step tutorial.
Photo credit: The Sugar Coated Cottage
My mum’s birthday this week was the perfect opportunity to create mini-versions of these flowers. I coloured the flower (gum) paste in burgundy, purple and salmon hues and used heart flower/cherry blossom cutter a to cut out the flowers. Using the blade tool, I imprinted 2 ridges on each petal representing stylised veins and covered the centres with granulated sugar for a little sparkle. I also brushed the flowers very lightly with water and sprinkled on a few white hundreds and thousands (nonpareils) to tie the flowers in with the rest of the cupcake design.
Tips to make sugar flowers successfully
Flower (gum) paste dries out quickly, so keep it always wrapped up when not in use. Flower (gum) paste also tends to be sticky, so I recommend rolling out on a non-stick silicone mat. Use a little white fat or coconut oil to grease the mat and rolling pin. And lastly, don’t roll out the paste to thinly as this makes it harder to handle the flowers and increases the risk of breakage. 2 mm (0.08 in) is perfect.
Coconut Oil Buttercream
My mum likes iced cupcakes but isn’t the biggest fan of buttercream made with butter. She’s enjoys this yum no-fail cream cheese icing, which you definitely should add to your repertoire. But for this recipe, I wanted to make a buttercream with coconut oil. Aside from vegetable butter, you only need icing (confectioners’/powdered) sugar and water or almond milk. And yes, this buttercream is vegan.
Coconut oil is a very stable vegetable butter and holds up well at room temperature. So well in fact, that I had to warm the buttercream in microwave on the lowest setting, so it got a soft, pipeable consistency (keep in mind that I live in a moderate climate). Designs and flowers piped with this type of buttercream will turn out beautifully and should hold their shape at room temperature.
And if you have ever attempted to colour a butter-based buttercream blue, you know that the yellowish butter will shift the colour more to turquoise or green. Not with this coconut oil-based buttercream! It’s pure white, and you can tint in any colour you like, and achieving hues such as blue, violet or purple won’t be a problem.
How to cover the edges of the cupcakes with sprinkles
Since coconut oil buttercream is such a stable icing (frosting) and maintains it’s shape so well, you can do a few fun things that wouldn’t be possible with “regular”, softer buttercream. Like putting cute sprinkles on the edges of the buttercream swirls. Here are a few tips on how you can create this look:
- Using the mixer, whip the buttercream on high for 1 to 2 minutes immediately before icing. This will soften the buttercream and makes it easier to pipe. If the buttercream is too stiff, warm in the microwave on low for 1-minute bursts until it becomes spreadable.
- Use a piping tip (nozzle) that creates deep, well-defined ridges. The Wilton D2 or Jem D2 work best.
- Pipe a big, fluffy swirl on the cupcakes and use even pressure when piping. After piping, wait for 5 minutes so the buttercream can set a little. Don’t wait longer than that as the buttercream will become too hard for the sprinkles to stick on.
- Fill a wide, shallow bowl with sprinkles. Then gently roll the edges of the buttercream swirl in the sprinkles. Doesn’t this look cute?
Gift the cupcakes and free printable cupcake wrappers
These cupcakes are fun for birthdays, Mother’s Day, Easter or other festive occasions in spring and summer. Stacked on tiered etageres, they would also be an excellent treat for weddings and showers. You can also dress up your cupcakes with cute printable wrappers, which download at the end of the post.
Print the wrappers on cardstock or photo paper, cut out, and then wrap them around your cupcakes. It’s best to use clear tape or double-sided tape to secure the printable cupcake wrappers. To print smaller wrappers for mini cupcakes, reduce the printing size to 60% to 70%.
Easy Spring Cupcakes with Sugar Flowers
Prep Time: 3 hrs
Baking Time: 18 – 20 min
Yields: 12 cupcakes
You can use any kind of cupcakes in this recipe. Classic Vanilla or chocolate cupcakes would be delicious, too.
For the cupcakes
- 160 g (1 1/3 cups) all-purpose flour
- 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 115 g (1/2 cup / 1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 115 g (1/2 cup) caster (granulated) sugar
- 2 eggs (UK & Europe: M / US, Ca, AUS & NZ: L)
- the finely ground zest of 1 organic lemon
- 3 tbsp lemon juice
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
For the buttercream
- 200 g (1 cup / 7 oz) coconut oil, at room temperature
- 200 g (1 1/2 cups) icing (confectioners’/powdered) sugar
- 4 – 8 tbsp water, at room temperature
- blue gel paste food colour
For the sugar (gum) paste flowers
- white flower (gum) paste
- gel paste food colours (I used burgundy, purple, and salmon)
- royal icing
- granulated sugar
- white hundreds and thousands (nonpareils)
mixed pink and white hundreds and thousands (nonpareils)
printable cupcake wrapper (download below)
- kitchen scale or mixing cups and spoons
- stand mixer with the paddle attachment
- rubber spatula
- 12-hole cupcake tray (pan)
- 12 paper cupcake liners
- oven mitts or kitchen towel
- rolling pin
- non-stick silicone rolling mat
- small and large disposable piping (pastry) bags
- large closed star piping tip (nozzle)
- small round piping tip (nozzle)
- 5 petal flower cutter
- blade tool
1) Make the sugar flowers
Knead the flower (gum) paste to make it soft and pliable. Divide the paste into 3 portions and tint each with gel paste food colour. Lightly grease a silicone rolling mat with coconut oil or vegetable shortening and roll out the flower (gum) paste to a thickness of 2 mm (0.08 in). Using a cutter, cut out flowers. Use the blade tool to make 2 indentations into each petal. Let dry for 1 hour.
2) Create the flower centres
Using a small round piping tip, pipe a small dot of white royal icing into the centre of the flower and cover with granulated sugar. Turn the flower upside down to shake off any excess sugar. Stroke with a damp brush across 1 to 2 petals and sprinkle on a few hundreds and thousands (nonpareils). Let dry for several hours or overnight.
3) Preheat the oven
Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F / gas mark 4), and line a twelve-hole cupcake tin with cupcake cases.
4) Mix the cupcake batter
Sift the flour and baking powder into a large mixing bowl. Add the butter sugar, eggs, lemon zest, lemon juice, and vanilla extract. Mix until a combined, then distribute the batter equally into the prepared tin. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until the cupcakes, have risen and look golden-brown. Place on a wire rack to cool for 1 hour.
Tip: I prefer mixing cupcake batter by hand to avoid overmixing, which makes the texture of the cupcakes denser and chewier. Of course, you can also use an electric mixer to prepare this step. Just be careful to stop the mixing process once all ingredients are just combined.
5) Mix the coconut buttercream
First, let the coconut oil come to room temperature if you stored it in the fridge. Transfer the coconut oil into the mixing bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and cream the coconut oil for 3 to 5 minutes. Add the icing (confectioners’/powdered) sugar, 1/2 cup at a time, and the water, 1 tablespoon at a time. Whip for another 10 minutes, until light and fluffy.
Tip: You can add between 4 to 8 tablespoons of water. The buttercream should be soft and spreadable. The water should be at room temperature, neither hot nor cold.
6) Colour the buttercream
Pick up blue gel paste food colour with the tip of a cocktail stick (toothpick) and mix into the buttercream. Gradually add more colour food until you are happy with the colour of the buttercream. Keep in mind that a little goes a long way so add the colour only in small amounts.
7) Assemble and decorate the cupcakes
Transfer the buttercream into a disposable piping (pastry) bag fitted with a large closed star tip. Pipe a big swirl on each cupcake and let sit for 5 minutes. Then and gently roll the edges of the cupcakes in the sprinkles. Lightly press a flower on to the swirl and serve.
Storage & Shelf Life
The cupcakes keep fresh for 3 days in the fridge. Allow to come to room temperature before enjoying them.
Free Printable Cupcake Wrapper
Click on the button to download your free printable magnolia cupcake wrapper and serve your homemade Easter cupcakes beautifully!
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