Sourdough Lemon-Lavender-Vanilla Cupcakes with Lemony Glaze

By • May 14, 2015 3 Comments

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Author Notes: A few years ago, my friend Bin gave me my first sourdough starter. He included a recipe for King Arthur Flour's Sourdough Chocolate Cake, which has become a staple in my repertoire and has inspired many variations, including this one. The sourdough batter results in wonderfully moist cake without being dense, and gives a subtle richness to the flavor. The fruitiness of a good-quality, full bodied extra virgin olive oil pairs nicely with the citrus and lavender. This is one of my favorite spring-time (or any time, really) desserts!girlwiththegreenhair


Makes 2 1/2 dozen cupcakes

The Cupcake

  • 1 cup sourdough starter, fed and ready to use
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1 1/2 cups white sugar
  • 1 cup good, fruity extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest (I used Meyer)
  • 1 teaspoon lavender extract, or crushed dried lavender buds
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 2 eggs

The Glaze

  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 3-4 tablespoons lemon juice, freshly squeezed
  1. In a large bowl, whisk together the starter and milk, then add the all purpose flour and stir to combine. Cover with a towel and let sit at room temperature for 2-3 hours. It will not get bubbly or rise really, although depending on the strength of your starter it may expand a bit.
  2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease your cupcake tin well - I use olive oil spray.
  3. In a separate large mixing bowl (I use a standing mixer with whisk attachment), whisk together the sugar, olive oil, lemon zest, lavender, vanilla, salt, and baking soda. Add the eggs one at a time, whisking well to incorporate after each. The mixture will be gritty, oily, and gloopy.
  4. Add the sourdough mixture to the sugar-olive oil mixture. Whisk on low speed until smooth, scraping down the sides periodically. Make sure to get any globs hiding in the batter at the sides or bottom of the bowl - these will bake into unappetizingly hard bits in the final product. (This is why whisking instead of stirring is a good idea).
  5. Add the pastry flour and whisk in until fully incorporated, scraping down the sides as necessary. The batter will be a bit runny.
  6. Fill your cupcake tin with the batter, filling each cupcake section halfway. For me, this is about 1/4 cup of batter per cupcake. Note: I use an older cupcake tin inherited from my grandmother that is a bit smaller than standard cupcake tins sold today. Depending on the size of your tin, this could affect the number of cupcakes each makes, the amount of batter needed per cupcake, and the necessary baking time, so a bit of experimentation might be needed over the next few steps to get it right!
  7. Bake the cupcakes 15 minutes or until the tops have risen and a toothpick comes out clean. You might want to test one before it has cooled completely - if it is too moist/dense for you, bake another 2-3 minutes.
  8. Let the cupcakes cool 10 minutes in the pan, then loosen their sides with a knife and remove them gently, placing them on a cookie sheet/rack lined with parchment or wax paper to continue cooling. If using the same tin to make more cupcakes, make sure to grease it well.
  9. While the cupcakes cool, make the glaze: Whisk together the powdered sugar and 2 tablespoons of lemon juice. Continue adding lemon juice in half tablespoon increments until you reach the desired consistency. When cupcakes have cooled, drizzle glaze over their tops. (The parchment paper lining makes for an easier clean-up later.)
  10. Variation: Bake the batter in a bundt cake pan - extend baking time to approximately 35-45 minutes or until a toothpick/cake tester comes out clean. Drizzle with the lemony glaze before serving.

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