Saturday, August 24, 2013

Strawberry Cupcakes

Now that I have graduated and am no longer in school, seeing my friends requires actual planning and coordination of schedules. As the summer is winding down I thought that it would be nice to try and organize a mini picnic on the beach and catch up with my friends. The truth of the matter is that apart from a few people, I really haven't seen most of them since our graduation back in May.

I decided that I wanted to bake some strawberry cupcakes for our little picnic because they seemed appropriate for the season. Also, my mom had bought me cute little cupcake liners that I was dying to use. I found two separate recipes from my favorite food blog Annie's Eats and decided to use the cake from one and the frosting from the other.

I was a little nervous to prepare the frosting because it was a strawberry-flavored Swiss meringue buttercream. Through my skimming of many food blogs I had read of how finicky Swiss meringue buttercream can be, which doesn't surprise me because anything with the word "meringue" in it usually gives bakers nightmares. However I decided I would bite the bullet and try my hand at making it.

Despite my initial hesitations I actually had no problems making the frosting. I don't know whether it was beginner's luck or if it's truly not as difficult as people make it out to be but I can honestly say it wasn't hard at all. The frosting turned out rich and creamy and was absolutely delicious. I went through the extra step of straining the strawberry puree before adding it to the buttercream just to make sure it was completely smooth.

Due to the fact that I made extra cupcakes, I was able to share them with my family and a few other friends who came over to my house the night before for dinner. They loved the cupcakes and commented on how cute they looked in the liners my mom had bought.

Unfortunately, the picnic didn't work out as I had planned because as it happened, one of my friends got called in to work that morning and since she was providing a ride for two others they couldn't attend either. In the end, only one other friend was able to come which left me with lots of extra cupcakes. Instead I brought them with me to work and shared them with the staff during one of my night shifts.

Strawberry Cupcakes
Makes 18-21 cupcake

For the cupcake:
  1. Sift together the flour, baking soda, and salt and set aside.
  2. Beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
  3. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, until combined.
  4. Add the oil, buttermilk, and vanilla until combined.
  5. Add in the flour mixture and stir until just combined. Fold in the chopped strawberries.
  6. Distribute the batter amongst a well-greased or paper-lined muffin pan. Fill each well ¾ full with batter. 
  7. Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool for five minutes in the pan before removing and finishing to cool on a wire rack
 For the frosting:
Note: These instructions are from the original recipe and assume the use of a stand mixer. The frosting can also be prepared using a hand mixer, but it will take a lot longer.
  • ¾ cup chopped strawberries
  • 2 large egg whites
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • ¾ cup (12 tbsp) unsalted butter, room temperature
  1. Puree the strawberries in a food processor. Strain through a mesh sieve to remove seeds, and set aside.
  2. Combine the egg whites and sugar in a heatproof bowl set over a pot of simmering water. Heat, whisking frequently, until the mixture reaches 160° F and the sugar has dissolved. (I didn't actually have a thermometer so I just eyeballed it for when the sugar dissolved)
  3. Transfer the mixture to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Beat on medium-high speed until stiff peaks form and the mixture has cooled to room temperature, about 8 minutes.  (The bowl should be cool to the touch.)  
  4. Reduce the speed to medium and add the butter, 2 tablespoons at a time, adding more once each addition has been incorporated. If the frosting looks soupy or curdled, continue to beat on medium-high speed until thick and smooth again, about 3-5 minutes more (or longer - don’t worry, it will come together!)  
  5. Blend in the strawberry puree until smooth and completely incorporated, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.
  6. Fill a piping bag with the frosting and frost the cupcakes once they have cooled.

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