These cupcakes were the highlight of a rather bleak last semester for me. A classmate of mine baked them for the class on the last day of class, and also brought in candles for the seniors who were graduating. We dimmed the lights and had a moment before digging into these delicious cupcakes, the room otherwise silent except for the occasional declaration of how good these cupcakes were by each person in the room.
The cupcakes were a hit, both in your mouth and on the eyes. My classmate had baked them as jumbo cupcakes and her frosting was tinged light pink and piped on in a beautiful swirl. On top, she perched two thin slices of strawberries that rested delicately on the whipped frosting, like the wings of a gently resting butterfly. I am probably going a little over the top with the description (it was a writing class!) but they really were some of the prettiest cupcakes I have ever seen. Even before I had a bite, I knew I wanted the recipe, which she so kindly gave to me.
And these cupcakes are certainly as delicious as they look. I normally hate frosting and find it to be sickeningly sweet but this whipped frosting that goes on top of the cupcake is light and actually refreshing. The cupcake itself is moist and fluffy, with flecks of strawberries suspended in a classic yellow cake. I had never made cupcakes before and can understand now why boxed cupcake mixes are so popular but the extra effort is definitely worth it for the homemade taste, especially since I baked these for my friend Margaret’s birthday.
Strawberry Shortie Cupcakes
2 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup cake flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
(sift together and set aside)
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
2 1/4 cups sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
(cream together using an electric mixer until pale and fluffy)
3 large whole eggs plus 1 egg white, room temperature, separated
1 cup milk, room temperature
2 cups finely chopped strawberries (about 20) plus about 10 more for garnish
1 tablespoon lemon zest
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line muffin tins with paper liners.
2. In a large mixing bowl, cream together butter, vanilla, and sugar until pale and fluffy. Add one egg yolk at a time, beating until each is incorporated, scraping down sides of bowl as needed. Reduce speed to low. Add flour mixture in 3 batches, alternating with the milk, starting and ending with flour mixture. Beat until combined, but DO NOT over beat.
3. Beat egg whites in separate bowl until they form soft peaks.
4. Stir lemon zest into chopped strawberries. Fold strawberries into the cake batter, and then fold in egg whites in three batches. Again, DO NOT over stir.
4. Divide batter evenly among lined cups, filling each three-quarter of the way full. Bake, rotating tins halfway through, until golden and a cake tester inserted in center comes out clean, about 25 to 30 minutes. Transfer tins to wire racks to cool 15 minutes; turn out cupcakes onto rack and let cool completely. Cupcakes can be stored up to 1 day at room temperature in airtight containers. Makes 34 regular sized cupcakes, 16 jumbo sized cupcakes.
2 cups heavy cream
1/4 cup confectioners sugar, sifted
3 medium sized strawberries, chopped, squished through strainer until you have about 1 tablespoon of juice
red sugar sprinkles
1. Beat heavy cream until soft peaks form. add confectioners sugar, 2 teaspoons of red sugar sprinkles, and juice. Beat until combined. Taste and if more sweetness is desired, add more confectioners sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time. Can be stored in an airtight container, refrigerated, for up to 3 hours.
2. To finish, fill a pastry bag fitted with a large open star-tip with the whipped cream. Pipe whipped cream onto each cupcake, swirling tip and releasing as you pull up to form a peak. Just before serving, thinly slice remaining strawberries, and tuck a few pieces into whipped cream. Sprinkle on some extra red sugar.
I didn’t have a lemon around and forgot to pick one up from the grocery store so I had to omit the zest from the recipe; the cupcakes still turned out deliciously, though. I also halved the recipe, using two whole eggs, instead of three. I had some trouble getting the egg whites to form peaks so the cupcakes were probably not as light as they could be but still very soft.