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Recipe  •  24 April 2024


Lemon Diva Cupcakes

These punchy little lemon cakes remain one of my favourite memories from Season One of MasterChef. They won me a mystery box challenge and became one of my most-requested recipes.

Makes: 12
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes


  • 100 g unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • ¾ cup (165 g) caster sugar
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • finely grated zest of 3 lemons
  • 2 eggs
  • 1⅓ cups (200 g) self-raising flour
  • ½ cup (125 ml) milk


  • 125 g unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2 cups (300 g) icing sugar mixture
  • 1½ tablespoons lemon juice
  • yellow food colouring (optional)
  • yellow liquorice allsorts, to decorate


  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C. Line a 12-hole muffin pan (80 ml capacity) with paper cases. Using electric beaters, beat the butter, sugar and vanilla extract until light and creamy. Mix through the lemon zest.

  2. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each egg. Gently fold through the flour and milk in alternating batches. Divide the mixture evenlyamong the paper cases.

  3. Bake for about 20 minutes, or until golden brown and springy when touched. Remove from the oven and transfer to a wire rack to cool completely before decorating.

  4. To make the icing, use electric beaters to beat the butter until light and creamy. Add the icing sugar a little at a time, beating constantly. Add half the lemon juice and beat until well combined. Add the remaining lemon juice a little at a time, and tint with food colouring if you like. Using a 1 cm fluted nozzle, pipe the icing onto the cooled cupcakes. Decorate with a small lemon shape cut from a yellow piece of liquorice allsort.

Note: To make Lime Sublime cupcakes, substitute the zest of 6 limes in the cake batter and 2 tablespoons of lime juice in the icing. For Clockwork Orange cupcakes, try using the zest of 2 oranges in the batter and 2 tablespoons of orange juice in the icing.

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Your Time Starts Now
The extraordinary life story of Australia's beloved Julie Goodwin, first winner of MasterChef and bestselling cookbook author
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