April’s What’s Baking? challenge is Spring-themed, hosted by Leanne at The Martin Family! Leanne urged us all to tap into the joys of Spring and share a recipe that brings to mind warm days with cool breezes, sunshine, new flowers, and fresh produce coming back to all of the farmers’ markets.
In late March I asked my daughter what kind of birthday cupcakes she wanted me to make for her party, and her immediate response was an enthusiastic “strawberry!” I don’t think my child had ever actually eaten a strawberry cupcake, but she was quite emphatic that she wanted strawberry cake with strawberry frosting, staunchly denying my suggestions that we have chocolate frosting (which may or may not have been driven by the fact that I love chocolate-covered strawberries).
Having never made a strawberry cake or cupcake before, I turned to my Google Reader and Google for help finding a recipe. I knew I wanted something made from scratch with fresh strawberries, which eliminated countless recipes that began with white cake mix* and strawberry Jell-O. It took more searching than I anticipated, but I finally found recipes that sounded like they’d hit the mark.
Both the cake and the frosting were super-easy to put together. I do want to note that the frosting is a softer frosting, so I didn’t even try to pipe it prettily onto the cupcakes. I slapped some on with a butter knife and topped it with glittery pink sugar, which delighted the birthday girl and saved me some time and effort.
I’m not a fan of strawberry-flavored desserts, but the reviews from our guests were great, and the birthday girl was pleased as punch, so I’d say they were a success!
*I have nothing against cake mix as you’ll see in a post later this week, but I knew that wasn’t what I wanted in this case.
3 Tablespoons buttermilk
6 Tablespoons mashed strawberries (I used a potato masher for this)
3/8 t baking soda
1 whole egg + yolk of 1 egg
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
9 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted & cooled
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
5 drops red food coloring (optional)
Preheat oven to 350 F. Line 12 muffin cups with liners and set aside.
In a small bowl, whisk together buttermilk, strawberries and baking soda. Add the egg, egg yolk, vanilla and melted butter, whisking until thoroughly combined.
In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar and salt. Stir in the strawberry mixture until just blended – you want the batter free from lumps, but be careful not to over mix. If using, add the food coloring at this point. If you choose not to use it, your cupcakes will be beige, not pink – do what works for you.
Divide the batter among the 12 lined cups and bake for 20-25 minutes or until a tester comes out clean. Allow the cupcakes to cool completely before frosting.
Sprinkles Strawberry Frosting
Adapted from Martha Stewart (original source Sprinkles, of course)
1/2 cup mashed fresh strawberries (again, I used a potato masher for this – you could also use a food processor or blender for a smoother consistency)
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, firm and slightly cold
Pinch of salt
3 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Using a stand or hand-held electric mixer, beat together the butter and salt on medium speed until light and fluffy (3-5 minutes). Reduce the mixer speed to low and gradually add confectioners’ sugar, beating until well combined. Add the vanilla extract and mashed strawberries, mixing just until blended – do not overmix. The frosting consistency will be dense and creamy.