Here in the South, strawberries are in season right now. In my humble opinion, aside from eating them straight out of the garden, there is no better way to enjoy fresh strawberries than in a strawberry cake! A coworker brought in an old fashioned strawberry cake to work last week that his mother had made, and after two pieces last week (diet, what?) I needed more. So Saturday morning I purchased what I needed to make this recipe I found on OvenLove via Pinterest. Since strawberry cake is really moist and spongy, and I was also making it to share with my brother-in-law as a thank you for doing our taxes (he’s an accountant), I decided to make cupcakes with the recipe instead. They turned out AMAZING – a huge comeback from last week’s cake debacle/epic baking fail.
I may or may not have eaten two of these Sunday night… They count as a serving of fruit, in my book.
- Hull, slice and toss fresh strawberries with a teaspoon or two of sugar and cover. Let them sit at room temperature for a couple of hours, until nice and juicy. I only let them sit for 30 minutes or so while I prepped the other ingredients. It worked just fine. Place strawberries in a food processor or blender and puree. For frozen berries: Thaw frozen strawberries in whatever form (sliced, whole, etc) and in whatever container/bag you have them in. Pour into a fine strainer placed over a bowl and let sit. Lightly toss the strawberries occasionally to remove any pockets of excess liquid. Reserve the liquid for another use or discard.
- Reserve ¾ cup puree for the cake. Use leftover puree to fill the cake or fold into the frosting. I saved about half a cup to put into the frosting, but I would have used more if I was filling and icing a cake instead.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees and prepare two 12-hole muffin tins with cupcake liners. Or if you’re making the cake instead, grease and flour two 8 or 9 inch round cake pans.
- In small bowl, combine puree, milk, egg, vanilla and mix with fork until well blended. In bowl of stand mixer, add sifted flour, sugar, baking powder and salt and mix to combine. Continue beating at slow speed and add room temperature butter. Mix until combined and resembling moist crumbs.
- Add liquids and beat at medium speed for about 1 minute or until full and evenly combined. Stop mixer to add food coloring if using and to scrape down the sides of the bowl and beat to combine. Divide the batter evenly among the cupcake liners with an ice cream scoop.
- Bake for about 15-16 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean (time will vary). Let cakes cool completely before icing.
Strawberry Cream Cheese Swiss Meringue Buttercream (say that ten times fast) adapted from Oven Love Blog and Whisk Kid (link above)
This icing is time consuming, but as all good buttercream icings are… totally worth every second.
- In the base of a double boiler, bring water to a simmer. In the top bowl (or just a bowl to place over a pan of simmering water) combine the egg whites and sugar and whisk constantly until the mixture is hot to the touch (160F on a candy thermometer if you want to be completely accurate), about five minutes depending on the original temperature of the eggs. When the mixture has warmed sufficiently, pour it into the bowl of your stand mixer and whip on high speed until the bottom of the bowl is room temperature, ten to fifteen minutes. When the bowl is no longer warm, turn the mixer to medium-low and begin adding the butter piece by piece. Let each chunk incorporate completely before adding the next and don’t rush the process!
- After all of the butter has been added, add the vanilla and turn the speed back to high. Whip for about 3 minutes or until the buttercream comes together. Turn the speed down to low and add the cream cheese and strawberry puree, then mix on medium to fully incorporate.
This is what the sugar/egg white mixture looks like on the double boiler when it’s ready to be transferred to the mixing bowl. I didn’t use a candy thermometer, but I’ve made it quite a few times before, so I knew when it was ready. Just make sure you whisk constantly and heat slowly to prevent the egg whites from turning into super sweet scrambled eggs.
The icing after the addition of the strawberry puree and cream cheese. It is unreal. It would be really good with the addition of any fruit puree, I’m quite sure. I plan to do some serious experimenting with this icing in the future.
The complete cupcakes! Run, do not walk, to your local market to get the ingredients before strawberries go out of season. Every bit of effort is worth it. Now, I’m going to go have a strawberry cupcake for lunch, and leave you with a picture of Harold begging for one. I never should have given that dog icing or cake batter… I created a monster!