2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, spooned and leveled
1 3/4 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoons fine salt
14 tablespoons (1 3/4 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 3/4 cups sugar
4 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste or pure vanilla extract, (I also used 1 teaspoon of almond extract to boost the flavor)
3/4 cup buttermilk
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line 2 standard 12-cup muffin pans.
Whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt in a bowl. Beat butter on medium speed with an electric mixer until creamy, 2 to 3 minutes. Gradually beat in sugar, until light and fluffy, 1 to 2 minutes. Reduce mixer speed to low and beat in eggs, 1 at a time, just until blended after each addition.
Beat in vanilla. Beat in flour mixture alternately with buttermilk, beginning and ending with flour mixture, just until blended after each addition.
Transfer batter to lined cups. Bake, rotating pans once, until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, 24 to 26 minutes. It took mine only 14 minutes. Cool in pans on a wire rack, 15 minutes; transfer to the rack to cool completely. You can stop here and eat 4 like my son did #becausehehatesfrosting or proceed to the lemon filling and Swiss Meringue buttercream frosting & coconut.
Lemon Curd Filling
3/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/8 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup cool water
3 egg yolks slightly beaten
1 teaspoon lemon peel grated
Juice of a medium lemon
1 tablespoon butter
Combine sugar, cornstarch and salt in a small saucepan. Gradually add water and whisk until well blended. Whisk in egg yolks, lemon peel and lemon juice.
Cook over medium heat, whisking constantly until thick and bubbly. Boil one minute; remove from heat. Stir in butter. Cool to room temperature, without stirring. Using a cupcake center-get-er outer (not sure what they are really called) or a knife, take the center out and fill with the lemon filling if using. Eat the centers.
Swiss Meringue Buttercream
1 cup sugar
4 large egg whites
1 1/2 cup butter, at room temperature (I ONLY used 1 stick, cause I was feeling guilty) so maybe it's not really buttercream frosting? Still delicious.
2 teaspoon vanilla bean paste or pure vanilla extract
Combine sugar and egg whites in a metal bowl. Place bowl over a sauce-pan of simmering water (make sure the bottom of the bowl does not touch the water) and cook, whisking constantly, until sugar is dissolved and mixture registers 160 degrees F on an instant-read thermometer, 4 to 6 minutes.
Whisk on medium speed with an electric mixer until fluffy and cooled, 9 to 11 minutes. Reduce mixer speed to medium-low; add butter, one tablespoon at a time, whisking well after each addition. Whisk in vanilla and, if desired, food coloring. Using a piping bag, pretend you work at a bakery like me and pipe away and if you like, pile with coconut and a slice of lemon.