Buttermilk cupcakes with lemon cream cheese frosting. Mmm.

Spring means Mother's Day, graduation parties, baby and wedding showers, so everyone needs a good dessert that's delicious, beautiful and not too complicated.

As you've probably noticed, cupcakes are hot right now. Made-from-scratch cupcakes aren't difficult and make an especially pretty presentation. The following recipe is ideal for spring, with a tangy buttermilk flavor to the cake and a tart-sweet lemon frosting. They're perfect for everything from end-of-school parties to dinner parties.

BUTTERMILK CUPCAKES WITH LEMON CREAM CHEESE FROSTING

Makes 12

You can double the batch if you have a big crowd. If you don't have cake flour, use 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour. The cakes won't be as light, however.

Cupcakes:
2 cups cake flour 1 teaspoon baking powder 1 teaspoon baking soda 3/4 teaspoon salt 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened 1 cup sugar 1 tablespoon finely grated lemon peel 1 teaspoon vanilla 2 large eggs 1 cup buttermilk
Frosting:
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened 3/4 cup whipped cream cheese 2 cups confectioners' sugar 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line 12 muffin cups with paper or foil liners.

Sift flour, baking powder, soda and salt into a large bowl.

Beat butter, sugar and lemon peel in another large bowl with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Beat in vanilla. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Add dry ingredients in 3 additions, alternating with buttermilk and beating just until combined after each addition.

Divide batter among cups. Bake until golden and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 20 to 25 minutes. Cool cupcakes in cups 5 minutes. Transfer cakes to rack to cool completely.

To make frosting: Beat butter and cream cheese in the bowl of an electric mixer until smooth. Add confectioners' sugar. Beat until well blended. Add lemon juice and beat until smooth and of spreading consistency. (If frosting is too thin, refrigerate until thicker.)

Spread frosting thickly on cakes. Cupcakes can be made up to 2 days ahead. Store in the refrigerator. Let stand at room temperature 30 minutes before serving.

PER CUPCAKE: 279 calories; 3 g protein; 38 g carbohydrates; 0 fiber; 13 g fat (8 g saturated); 59 mg cholesterol; 238 mg sodium.