1/2 cup (113 grams) unsalted butter, room temperature
2/3 cup (130 grams) granulated white sugar
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Zest of 1 large lemon (optional)
1 1/2 cups (210 grams) all purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup (60 ml) milk
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (177 degrees C) and lightly butter or line 12 muffin cups with paper liners.
2. Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in the vanilla extract and lemon zest.
3. In a separate bowl whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt.
4. With the mixer on low speed, alternately add the flour mixture and milk, in three additions, beginning and ending with the flour. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.
5. Evenly fill the muffin cups with the batter and bake for about 18-20 minutes or until nicely browned and a toothpick inserted into a cupcake comes out clean. Remove from oven and place on a wire rack to cool.
6. Once the cupcakes have completely cooled, spread a coat of light orange icing (we stirred drops of yellow and pink food coloring, and just a touch of green, into 2 cups of buttercream frosting until we had a hue we liked) on a dozen cupcakes.
7. Use a pastry bag fitted with a number 10 round tip to top them with fat zigzags. It works best to first pipe two zigzags down the middle and then fill in the sides.