It's birthday season around here again and time to try out some new cake sensations. I was hoping for a fully-saturated strawberry experience and this is it. Often, commercial cupcakes have that pretty but flat-tasting frosting. I think they're probably made with shortening instead of real butter. If I'm going to indulge in a treat, it better be worth it. And this one is.
This recipe comes from Sprinkles Bakery (there are several now around the country) when they appeared on Martha Stewart. (There isn't one in Austin yet, so I haven't tried their cupcakes, but it was fun to try out this recipe.) I didn't get to see the episode, but bookmarked the recipe to try later. And I'm glad I did. The cake is just dense enough and the frosting is decadent. The recipe calls for fresh or frozen berries, but I would definitely recommend fresh, especially this time of year when you can find lots of organic berries around. (Did you know that strawberries are one of the most pesticide-heavy commerically farmed items? So remember to take the time to find organic.)
I like that this recipe is based on a yield of a dozen cupcakes. I got a little more, making about half a dozen mini-cupcakes with the extra. But I only filled my cups a little over half full so that they wouldn't go past the tops of the papers. You could probably double this for a party, but I'm glad for the smaller yield. I'm not sure we could be trusted with a giant batch of these around the house.
I used the puréed berries right out of the processor in the cake batter, but strained the rest of the purée for the frosting because I didn't want little seed crunches to mar the smoothness of the frosting.
Freeze-dried strawberries make for nice decoration. I crumbled them up into dust on the mini-cupcakes and stuck a slice into each regular-sized cupcake. I also thought of taking some strawberry fruit leather and cutting shapes out of it with mini-cutters. I'll try that next time.
I used most of a pound of fresh organic berries to make the purée for the cakes and the frosting. You'll have a few left, chef treats.
These are pretty quick to make. Just remember to take your eggs, milk and butter out of the fridge ahead of time to reach room temperature.
Note: I've had trouble lately with my KitchenAid mixer overbeating eggs and butter in batters. I'm run it on low speeds but this seems to happen anyway. Not sure if it's running too high or what. So this time, I used my hand mixer for both the frosting and the batter and it worked just fine.
1/3 cup organic strawberry purée (fresh strawberries puréed with immersion or regular blender)
1 1/2 cups flour (all-purpose), sifted
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup whole milk, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 egg, at room temperature
2 egg whites, at room temperature
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Line muffin tin with a dozen cupcake papers.
In a small bowl, stir or whisk together: flour, baking powder and salt.
In another small bowl, stir together: milk, strawberry purée and vanilla.
With a mixer, cream butter until light and fluffy. Slowly, add sugar and keep mixing until it's incorporated completely and turns fluffly again. Add the egg and egg whites and mix on lower speed until just incorporated.
Add half the flour, then mix on low until just combined. Add half the liquid mixture, and mix again on low. Continue with the rest of the flour and then the rest of the liquid, mixing on low after each until just combined.
Scrape down the sides and bottom of your mixing bowl with a spatula to make sure you get everything combined.
Spoon the batter into the lined cups, filling just over half full. Bake 20-25 minutes. (I pulled them out at 20 minutes and tested them with a toothpick. Poke a toothpick into the center of the cake and if it comes out clean, you're done.)
Since I pulled them out on the early side of the cooking time range, I felt more comfortable letting them cool in the pan, where I knew they'd continue to cook a bit more. Pulling them a little early allowed for that.
Be sure to let these cool completely before frosting or it'll just melt into a tasty, but gooey mess.
1/4 cup strawberry purée, strained to remove seeds
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter – you want it a little cooler and firmer than room temp for this
pinch of salt
3 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
Freeze-dried strawberries to decorate
Beat butter and salt together until light and fluffy.
Add powdered sugar, in several increments, and mix in.
Add vanilla and strawberry purée and mix until just blended together. Be careful not to mix too much air into the frosting, it should be dense.
Refrigerate the frosting for 15-30 minutes before using on cakes. It'll be easier to handle this way, especially for piping.
Frost with an offset spatula or use a piping bag to swirl it on.
Crumble the freeze-dried strawberries into dust and sprinkle over frosted cakes, or use them however you'd like to decorate.
Yield: about a dozen regular-sized cupcakes
Adapted from Sprinkles Bakery recipe on Martha Stewart.