Italian Cream Cupcakes with Lemon Curd and Lemon Buttercream. Also a tiny cookie.

by Irvin on May 21, 2010 · 21 comments

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It’s is OBVIOUS that I have food blogger disease. Because I have started to look for excuses to bake. Not that I necessarily need an excuse to bake, but the reality is, I’m clearly in the honeymoon phase of blogging, coming up with ideas and rushing to my pantry to see what supplies I have. In fact I was down to only FOUR sticks of butter last week because of my constant kitchen experiments! THE HORROR!

But my most recent excuse to bake was my friend Felisa’s birthday. She turns a ripe old 35 years, and when you reach middle age (according to the US Census – 35 is considered middle aged! Good thing, she filled out her census BEFORE her birthday!), I figure it deserves some sort of baked good. So I made cupcakes for her.

The cupcakes, however, were NOT the sort of everyday cupcakes that I make. Nope. I decided to take Felisa’s favorite cake that I make and turn them into cupcakes. Based on a recipe from Martha Stewart (I know, just a couple of posts ago, I had talked about how I didn’t like Martha Stewart, but this is one of her recipes that is definitely a win), this italian cream cake is suitable for a wedding cake. Or so Martha says in the recipe.

I believe her. In fact, the reason I know that it’s Felisa’s favorite cake that I make is because she actually asked me to make her wedding cake – using this specific cake recipe. I had just met her a couple of months prior via our mutual friend Rita, and had invited her and her fiance (now husband) Chris to our dessert party. I had only met her once or twice before and she had never been to one of our dessert parties before. When she had a slice of the cake, she came up to me, and asked me what it was. Then she started raving about it and with an odd look of bliss, asked me if I would make her wedding cake with this recipe.

I looked at her like the crazy woman that she was and immediately said “Um. No.” – mostly because I thought she was joking. Years later she confided to me that she wasn’t joking. She really wanted me to make her wedding cake – she liked the cake that much. Oops….I really did think she was joking! I mean, I’ve never made a wedding cake before, that’s would totally be a lot of pressure. Had she been getting married now and asked me, I might considered it…but back then, forget it.

Clearly our friendship has endures past my immediate rejection of her request for a wedding cake from me. But I’ve tried to make that same cake for most of my dessert parties I know she is going to be at (see I take requests…) to make up for it. And since she has gone on and on about her love of lemons, I decided to pair it with a lemon buttercream.

The lemon buttercream is also a frosting that people seem to love. My friend Ralph and Linsey had a baby shower and commissioned me to make them a cake for it years ago, and I made a variation of this italian cream cake, with the buttercream frosting (along with a lemon curd and lemon custard filling). For YEARS afterwards they said they had friends talk about the frosting. Their friends kept on saying things like “I could eat this frosting by the SPOONFUL!” and “It’s SO light! I love it!”

If they read the recipe, they would know that it’s really not that light. So don’t show them this recipe. It’s basically butter. With a little sugar and lemon. But mostly butter.

To kick the cupcake up a notch further, I made a lemon curd and piped some curd filling into the cupcake. And because I had frozen leftover sugar cookie dough from making the cookies for Susie and Jai’s Engagement Party I decided to make little cookie decorations for the cupcakes. Also, because I have recently learned the wonders of royal icing.

In short, I totally succumbed to may food blogging disease and went over the top with the cupcakes (I mean sure not TOTALLY over the top. I wasn’t sculpting insane hello kitty heads out of marzipan or fondant, but it was over the top for me). Oh my obsession with food blogging! I shake my fist at you!

Felisa didn’t seem to mind. We went and had dinner at K’s Kitchen – a fantastic sushi restaurant that our friends Steve and Anjana turned us on to. They were there, along with our friends Stella (Felisa’s sister) and Karen. Sadly Karen’s husband decided to stay home with their new baby, but that meant we got Karen to come out with us to celebrate! It was a fab evening all the way around, and since I didn’t tell anyone that I was bringing the cupcakes, they brought along a chocolate cake so everyone got two desserts. Well you only turn 35 once right?

Whilst baking I listened to the Dave Matthew’s Band Crash, because Felisa absolutely loves them and I figured it was appropriate. In fact Felisa is insane about nearly any and all jam bands – it’s a little ridiculous. You should see her in her drum circle.


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{ 20 comments… read them below or add one }

Juline May 21, 2010 at 8:37 am

I love how baking ideas snowball into over-the-top goodness. Beautifully done.


Michael C. May 21, 2010 at 10:21 am

If I were more ambitious, I would try each of the recipes you post and blog about it.

This one thrills e because:

a) cupcakes are the perfect desert
b) I too, love lemon
c) I squeal with delight whenever a desert comes with a little cookie.


kirstenslife May 21, 2010 at 11:51 am

Where was this icing recipe when I was baking for the kid??? She would have LOVED this one, where as she HATED the one I made 🙁 Looks so good, and I might have to try adapting to GF – unless you want to take it as your next adventure and do it for me…wink wink 😉


thecoffeesnob May 21, 2010 at 2:18 pm

Hi. I saw a photo of your cupcake on FoodGawker and couldn't resist coming by to take a closer look.

These are absolutely gorgeous- Felisa is indeed one lucky lucky girl!


Tara May 21, 2010 at 7:23 pm

Oh, the exquisite cuteness of the single-serving cake stand and dome!!!!


kudzu May 21, 2010 at 7:28 pm

Oh, my God: you've hit three of my four passions in cakedom: Italian cream cake, buttercream, and lemon curd…Italian cream cakes are a dream from my childhood in the South where they were made into three-layer (sometimes four-layer) beauties for special occasions, sometimes frosted with buttercream, often filled with whipped cream. Thanks for the fantasies!


Felisa May 21, 2010 at 10:03 pm

LOL…You got me there on the DMB and drum circles. If only I had a box full of DMB cassingles, my life would be complete! Curses!

But thank you again for those fabulous cupcakes and for making wedding cake for me at your dessert parties!


Joanne May 22, 2010 at 12:31 am

I think birthday cupcakes are the best and I so know what you mean about making crazy things for the blog. Studying has taken the backseat to "blogwork" lately haha! But it's so much fun (and so tasty). These cupcakes look fantastic.


Mr. Jackhonky May 22, 2010 at 6:31 pm

@Juline Thanks! It totally snowballed. First is was "I'll just make cupcakes." then. "Oh wait, the frosting she likes is lemon buttercream." and then. "hmmm. maybe i'll make some lemon curd to put inside" and finally "oh hey, this cookie dough is taking up too much space in the freezer…" Yay!

@Michael C. Next time you are in town, I'm totally baking you something with a small cookie. I want to see you squeal. And I mean that in an innocent way.

@Kirstenslife. Well the lemon curd and lemon butterrcream frosting are both gluten free! As for the cake, I have slightly different gluten-free cake recipe that I used which is pretty similar. I'm sure at some point I'll blog about! I make it for my dessert parties, and it's usually one of the first desserts to go – with no one knowing it's GF!

@thecoffeesnob. Yay! FoodGawker works! Come back soon!

@Tara. I KNOW! When AJ brought it home for me, I thought it was SO ADORABLE. It now sits on our kitchen table. I don't always have cupcakes, but i usually put a piece of fruit or something in it, because it looks sad empty.

@kudzu. So now I want to know what your FOURTH passion is?!?! If I can combine all four passions into one item, will that be enough to entice you to one of my dessert parties finally?!??!

@Felisa. You and your DMB/drum circles! Man, I don't know how Chris can stand it. Also, we need to talk about your overuse of patchouli. I'm just saying…. Happy 35th again!

@Joanna. OH MAN. I used to procrastinate SO bad when I was in college back in the day. Thankfully blogging didn't exist back then, or I probably wouldn't have graduated. Pretty much anytime my roommates came home, and I was baking, they'd look at me and nod knowingly and say "Test or Paper tomorrow?" and I would just say "um… English Lit. Paper". Good times. Good. Times.


petoke May 24, 2010 at 7:32 pm

wait, who has those DMB cassingles? was it my friend Nat? poor girl. she's probably still regretting coming to the party.

yum yum yum. I remember your Italian cake from my 1st dessert party, and it was damn fine. i love lemon too. who doesn't? lemons are the best.

happy bday Felees!


Mr. Jackhonky May 26, 2010 at 4:55 am

@petoke. I believe that your friend Nat DID get the DMB cassingles. SHe probably just threw them away, though in my imagination, she held on to them to give away at her own fabulous white elephant party. I have a hope that the cassingles had a life all on their own….

I love that you remember the cake. Yay!


Rita May 27, 2010 at 6:36 pm

That single serving cake stand IS adorable, and I love your description of Felisa at the party: "with an odd look of bliss." That's her! That's totally her!!

Happy Birthday, Felisa! Now you get to turn 35 in perpetuity!!


Rita May 27, 2010 at 6:38 pm

Oh, and the idea of Felisa in a drum circle is hilarious. And I do wish I could see that box of (32? 34??) DMB cassingles once again. One of the most hysterical white elephant gifts ever. Thanks, Irvin!! You always know what to bring!!


Anonymous June 13, 2010 at 2:32 am

I'd like to make this but am unsure about the separated sugar use in the cupcakes. The recipe says to add the sugar to the egg whites and in the next step cream the butter and sugar. How much in each step??? It looks awesome and I can't wait to try it.
– Connie


Mr. Jackhonky June 14, 2010 at 8:49 am

@Connie. I'm SO Sorry that I made that mistake! I went ahead and fixed it. You want to use 1/2 cup of sugar in the beginning to create a meringue like consistency in the egg whites, and then use the remaining 1 1/2 cups of sugar later in butter mixture. I'm SOOOO SORRY that I screwed that up! I hope you enjoy the recipe though and come back!


Katherine Harman July 27, 2011 at 11:47 am

I made this as a mini wedding cake and wrote about it on my blog-
It was a big hit!


Rodney Damron May 13, 2012 at 9:55 am

THANK YOU so much for this recipe. I make cupcakes regularly for all my friends and neighbors, and I’ve made this recipe twice already. It was such a huge hit the first time around, the word got out and other friends started asking for it. It was definitely worth the hours of work in the kitchen, and I love making everything from scratch. This recipe will stay on my Top 10 list as a go-to recipe for sure! Thanks again, and I LOVE your blog. Cheers!


Vera Zecevic – Cupcakes Garden August 22, 2012 at 3:22 am

Just perfect! You always surprise me with a brand new recipes I’ve never seen before! If you agree I would like to showcase then on my cupcake recipes and ideas blog.


Hillary Morgan July 14, 2014 at 3:32 pm

This recipe sounds perfect for a party I am going to in a couple of weeks. Just a few questions:

1. So that I don’t get 3/4 of the way through portioning out the batter and realize I don’t have enough. How much batter goes into each cup? Much easier to use the right sized scoop than “Robbing Peter to pay Paul”.
2. Is the batter a thin pourable batter or a thick scoop and drop batter?
3. With baking soda, is it okay to make a double batch and have it sit which the others are cooking or will they not rise? I you cannot do that with baking powder I am just not sure with baking soda.
4. When you mention rotating the pans. I have a regular oven and have to put the cupcakes on two levels. What is the best distance apart and how far above the bottom of the (gas) oven? When you rotate them you turning 90 degrees, 180 degrees or what? Do you want to shift the upper tray with the lower?

The filling produces enough product to put how much filling into each of the 24 cupcakes? Again, wanting to make sure I don’t run out of filling before getting them all filled.

Finally, how much frosting goes on top? I just made a cupcake recipe and started piping then realized I had nowhere near enough frosting for all the cupcakes and had to scrape them off and start over. It made them look horrible but I had no choice. I had already made it 1.5 times the recipe per a suggestion of another baker. On the other hand you don’t want to put too much frosting on top and overwhelm the cupcake with sweet.

Thank you.



Hillary Morgan July 15, 2014 at 11:54 am

Also, what product qualifies as a “trans-free” shortening? Crisco does not, so what else can I use? Thanks.


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