Spring has only just barely joined us here in Bozeman and I am ready for it. Although I haven’t yet figured out in what capacity I’m going to participate in running season this year, not needing multiple layers of clothing to visit the great outdoors is definitely improving my morale. M and I have been hiking every weekend since mid-March when the ski area closed, and with the social distancing practices it’s turned us from standard trails towards wandering about new-to-us public lands.
As the snow became less frequent and the plants started to show bits of color, my typical lemon cravings arrived too. I’d had cupcakes on my list to make for approximately a year at this point and a springtime version seemed the obvious solution. (Plus it allowed me to use these gorgeous cupcake liners I bought at Costco way too many years ago.) Borrowing a recipe from the always-amazing Pastry Affair, I set out on a cupcake quest. I knew I wanted to incorporate an herbaceous aspect and with thyme being the most appropriate herb available at the store that day, I was inspired by yet another Pastry Affair scone recipe I’d made last year.
Knowing I wanted a lighter buttercream frosting in lieu of a decadent cream cheese concoction, I modified a separate recipe with another addition of thyme in order to harmonize the two recipes with plenty of springtime flavor.
Moist and light, these cupcakes are packed with blueberries and accented with lemon and thyme for a slight twist on a classic. They are not exorbitantly sweet which means even with the buttercream frosting it’s a reasonable sugar high. (Still plenty sweet though, it is a cupcake, after all.) The frosting is fluffy and bright with a little thyme flavor, and a few specks of the herb throughout. I opted for some simple rose swirls to keep it a relatively light amount of frosting, and to bring an edible bouquet to my kitchen.
These keep well on the counter, remaining moist and delicious for at least five days. Realistically probably longer but we’d given away or demolished all 18 of them by then. If you’re in need of a wonderful treat with plenty to share, these cupcakes are perfect. They’d make a lovely addition to Mother’s Day but are low-stress enough for any weekday treat.
Blueberry Thyme Cupcakes
Vaguely adapted from Pastry Affair
Makes 18 cupcakes
1 3/4 cup cake flour
1/2 Tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup white sugar
2-3 tsp fresh thyme, minced
1 tsp lemon zest, minced
2 large eggs
1/3 cup plain Greek yogurt
1/4 cup Sicilian Lemon olive oil (or any vegetable oil)
1 Tbsp vanilla
2/3 cup milk
1 1/2 cups blueberries, fresh or frozen
1 Tbsp flour (if using frozen berries)
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and prepare two cupcake tins with a total of 18 baking cups.
- In a small bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
- With an electric mixer, cream together butter, sugar, and thyme until light and fluffy, at least 2 minutes.
- Beat in eggs one at a time, mixing thoroughly after each one, then mix in yogurt, oil, and vanilla.
- Add in the dry mixture about 1/4 cup at a time, until mostly combined.
- Stir in the milk on low speed until the batter is smooth and there are no flour streaks.
- If you have frozen berries, toss them with the tablespoon of flour until well coated.
- Gently fold in the blueberries until evenly distributed.
- Fill each baking cup with about 1/4 cup off batter, then bake for 16-18 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. (If your tins will fit side by side on the same oven rack, you can bake them all at once, otherwise I recommend doing each tin separately.)
- Cool briefly in pan, then remove to a wire rack to cool completely prior to frosting.
- Frost as desired, then store in a sealed container on the counter up to one week (or until devoured.)
Lemon Thyme Buttercream Frosting
Borrowed from Sally’s Baking Addiction
Makes about 2.5 cups
1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
4 1/2 cups powdered sugar
2 1/2 Tbsp lemon juice, freshly squeezed
2 Tbsp heavy cream
2 tsp lemon zest, minced
1 Tbsp thyme, minced
pinch of salt
- With an electric mixer, beat the butter until light and creamy, about two minutes.
- Stir in the remaining ingredients on low speed until just coming together.
- Beat on high speed for three minutes, until frosting is fluffy, uniform, and fragrant.
- If necessary, adjust consistency with an additional 1/4 cup powdered sugar another tablespoon of cream to thicken or thin, respectively.
- If you are relatively light with frosting (like me), you can store leftovers in the freezer. Bring to room temperature and beat again before using, adjusting texture with additional cream if needed.