Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Strawberry Cupcakes


These strawberries are about to go bad.

What do I do? What do I do?

Okay, okay, I'll just puree them and think of what to make later. It'll be fine.

I really didn't think at all while pureeing the strawberries, but it turns out that strawberry puree is great for making fresh strawberry cupcakes. No artificial coloring or strawberry Jell-O needed. In fact, I think these look and taste much better than the strawberry cakes that are made with Jell-O. You can really taste the freshness of the pureed strawberries rather than tasting the artificial sweetness of the Jell-O. 

I searched everywhere for a good recipe. A lot of the ones I found used strawberry Jell-O or needed diced strawberries that would be folded into the batter. However, since I already pureed my strawberries, I kept searching for one that could work with what I already had. Finally, after about an hour or reading through recipes, I found the perfect one...at Confections of a Foodie Bride.

I knew, the second I saw their finished product, that this recipe was going to help me create a fantastic strawberry cake. I could tell just by looking at their pictures. The color and texture of the cake reminded me of a certain strawberry cake my family always bought during special occasions. I'm talking about the cake from Yeh's Bakery in Flushing, NY. It is absolutely the most divine strawberry cake I have ever had. 

Realistically, no cake will ever compare to the cake from Yeh's Bakery. However, for a self-taught baker baking at home, this recipe comes pretty close. I decided to make a swiss meringue buttercream in fear that making a cream cheese frosting would overpower the delicate strawberry flavor and the cake itself. Although a swiss meringue buttercream isn't the easiest to make, it really does complement the cake well. Let's review this recipe, shall we?

Recipe Review:

Taste: You can definitely taste strawberry in this cake. In fact, you can just smell the fresh strawberry while mixing the batter. It isn't too sweet either. Even the buttercream doesn't make it extremely sweet.
Texture: It is extremely moist, with a nice crumb. The cake is very fluffy because of the addition of egg whites only. However, if you seek a denser cake, you can use whole eggs instead.
Level of difficulty: This cake could easily be one of the simplest cakes to make. It's not a one-bowl recipe, but it definitely is not difficult. All you need is a mixer, stand or hand-held will do. The "difficult" part of the recipe would definitely be the making of the buttercream.
Appearance: Beautifully light pink. For those of you who desire a darker shade of pink, you can add a drop or two of pink food coloring. I liked the natural shade of pink though.

Strawberry cupcakes
makes approx 20 standard sized cupcakes

Strawberry Puree  
24 oz ripe strawberries, hulled, cut in half
1 tablespoon sugar

Strawberry cake
1/2 cup milk, at room temperature
6 eggs whites, at room temperature; or 4 whole eggs, at room temperature
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup strawberry puree 
2 1/4 cup cake flour
1 3/4 cup sugar 
4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 1/2 sticks butter, at room temperatur, cut into cubes 
2 tablespoons strawberry jam

For the puree: 
Combine the halved strawberries and the sugar in a bowl. Let sit for 15 minutes to let the juices from the strawberry come out. This is called macerating.

Put the strawberries in a blender and blend until completely smooth. Set aside.

For the cake:
Preheat oven to 350°F and line two cupcake tins with liners. Set aside.
In a small bowl, combine the milk, egg whites, vanilla, and strawberry puree and mix lightly with a fork. Set aside. 

In the bowl of your stand mixer, sift the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Mix, with a paddle attachment, until the dry ingredients are just combined.
Continue beating at slow speed and add butter. Mix until combined and resembling moist crumbs.

Add wet ingredients and strawberry jam and beat at medium speed for about 1 minute or until full and evenly combined. Stop mixer to scrape down the sides of the bowl and hand beat for 30 more seconds. At this point, if the color of the batter is not to your liking, add some food coloring. 

Divide the batter evenly among the lined tins. Fill each tin about 2/3 of the way up. These cakes rise a bit. Bake for 20-25 minutes, rotating the pans halfway through the baking process to ensure even baking. Let the cupcakes rest in the pan for 10 minutes before inverting them onto a cooling rack. 

Strawberry Swiss Meringue Buttercrean
4 egg whites
1 1/4 cup sugar
3 sticks of butter, at room temperature, cut into cubes

1/2 cup strawberry puree 

In a medium bowl, whisk together egg whites and sugar. Place the bowl over a pot of simmering water, constantly whisking, until the mixture reaches 160°F or until all the sugar has dissolved. Transfer the mixture into the bowl of your mixer. 

With the whisk attachment, whisk the mixture on medium-high speed until it reaches stiff peaks and is thick and glossy. Then slowly add in the butter and continue beating until everything is evenly combined. The buttercream should be extremely smooth and silky. Lastly, beat in the strawberry puree until fully mixed in. 

Pipe the buttercream onto the cooled cupcakes however you wish to. I used an Ateco#827 and topped the cupcakes with royal icing flowers.

Make. These. Cupcakes. I promise you, you will not regret it. They have so much strawberry flavor and are so light and delicate. They are beautiful too, especially for a little girl's birthday party or a tea party. 

As always, Happy Baking! 

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