Hummingbird Bakery lemon cupcake recipe review

Lemon cupcakes with lemon frostingLast week for the Cupcake Break cake swapping party, I made lemon cupcakes from the Hummingbird Bakery recipe book. I did tweak the recipe for a number of practical reasons and so I thought I’d share my experiences.  First up the recipe says to use 2 tablespoons of grazed lemon zest. In my experience, that’s a hell of a lot of lemon zest! After grating 3 lemons, I decided that had to be enough! It wasn’t two tablespoons worth but when I tasted the mixture it tasted very lemony indeed.  Next up, I thought it a bit odd to have a lemon cupcake recipe without any lemon juice in it. Not to mention it being a bit wasteful having lemons with no zest and no use for the juice. So instead of using whole milk in the recipe I replaced half of the quantity with lemon juice.  For the frosting, the first common sense thing to note is that if you put icing sugar and butter in a bowl and mix with an electric mixer, regardless of speed, the icing sugar will go everywhere! For this reason I added some of the liquid at the same time as mixing the butter and icing sugar to avoid this.  Again, instead of using whole milk, I replaced this with lemon juice. I find that the recipe makes 9 cupcakes so I do a double quantity of the recipe.  Also I find that you only need to do one quantity of frosting (250g of icing sugar) to ice 18 cupcakes. I didn’t put any lemon zest in the frosting as this would be total overkill.  Lemon juice did the trick nicely instead.

To summarize the tweaks I made (taking into account the double quantities):


  • zezt of 3 lemons
  • 120ml lemon juice
  • 120ml semi skimmed milk


  • 25ml lemon juice rather than milk
  • No lemon zest

The verdict? I had quite a few taste testers at the cake swapping party and there were lots of yums and ooos.  I take this to be positive feedback. I also made a batch of these for my flatmate’s birthday last weekend and my cake connoisseurs thought the sponge was very moist and the icing lovely and lemony. Here’s to a successful tweaked recipe! Let me know how you get on trying the recipe out! Oh and what’s on the cake blog next week? A review of the new afternoon tea at the Wallace Restaurant – will it stack up? You’ll have to wait to find out…


  1. hairypineapple says:

    Aw – you’re such a clever baker! Your alterations to the recipe were spot on as the cupcake tasted very yummy and the perfect amount of lemony. More cakes for Laura!!! xx

  2. Have you tried the coconut meringue cake from the same book? I tried it yesterday but the meringue part wasn’t so successful! I think it was just too hot to set!

    • Hi Nic, thanks for your comment. I haven’t tried that recipe yet actually, I’ve been working my way through the cupcake recipes first but I will have to give it a whirl and let you know if there’s anything that can be done to make sure that meringue is gooey perfect. I can imagine it was pretty crazy warm to be in the kitchen, must admit I didn’t try the baking yesterday!

  3. That does indeed sound like a lot of lemon zest, but I’m with you on using the lemon juice. The cakes look lovely and I’m sure tasted delicious.

    • Thanks for the words of encouragement Nammar! Saw you’re a member of the food bloggers association – need to get myself signed up to that! Hope all your baking has been going OK, despite this heat!

  4. I also tried the lemon cupcakes however try did not cone out as intended..the sponge was flat despite filing the cases with a generous amount of sponge.

    I tried another batch when the first fell flat but again the same thing happened..I don’t understand why, extremely dissapointed as the other cupcakes recipes came out perfect! On a positive note they did taste lovely even though they didn’t look lovely!

  5. Thanks so much for saying how many lemons “2 tablespoons of zest” takes – I like the Hummingbird cakes, but the recipes are really not foolproof and seem to always need this kind of testing and tweaking. Your tweaks have saved me from birthday baking anxiety!

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