Well, spring WAS in the air . . . until Monday morning, when Anita and I started to go on our first of two one-mile walks. We stepped outside without having checked the weather app, and immediately ran back inside! The 55-60⁰F (13-15⁰C) temps we enjoyed on Sunday were gone, and the 40⁰F (4.5⁰C) bluster was blowing down to a 32⁰F (FREEZING) wind chill. So after putting on our winter coats and Mongolian hats, we headed back out. “There’s no such thing as too cold; only inadequate clothing!” (Ron Gifford, Canadian) 😁
So that has nothing to do with this “food blog” today. Sunday afternoon the “baking bug” bit me again as I was ogling the strawberries Anita had bought, and wondering if I should try another pie or something new. Thinking of the pie as more of a wintery treat, I decided on cupcakes, but with some idiosyncratic attempts to make them “my own.” (Some would say “idiotic” but we’re not listening to them! 😂) This blog, btw, comes on the heels of Smitha’s Bake Love’s blog which has such fantastic floral buttercream cupcakes that I could almost taste them on the computer screen. Please read about my cupcakes before visiting her site, as once there you will find delicious cakes, breakfasts, breads, cookies, and even soups, salads and almond milk and you may never leave! She politely tried to encourage me as a beginner, but I guess that’s what happens when you see what the pros can do 😞.
As usual, start with getting everything together to make sure you have what you need. Yields 12 cupcakes.
- 1-1/4 cup all-purpose flour (300 mL)
- 1 teaspoon baking powder (5 grams)
- 1/2 teaspoon salt (2.5 grams)
- 5 tablespoons softened unsalted butter (65 grams)
- 1/2 cup brown sugar (120 mL)
- 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract (2.5 mL)
- 2 eggs
- 1/4 cup whole milk (60 mL)
- 3/4 cup medium chopped strawberries (180mL)
- 1/2 cup coarsely chopped walnuts (120 mL)
Directions: Preheat the oven to 350⁰F (175⁰C).
Whisk the flour, baking soda and salt in a medium mixing bowl and set aside.
In a larger bowl, beat the butter, vanilla and sugar together at medium speed until it is as fluffy as the sugar will let it get. Be sure to scrape the sides of the bowl with each stage of the beating.
Add the first egg, blending it completely for at least one minute. After it is fully blended, add the second and thoroughly blend it as well, again scraping the sides. Beat for at least one additional minute on medium speed.
Add about 1/3 of the dry flour mixture and beat at medium speed to fully mix.
Follow this with about 1/2 of the milk and again beat to fully mix.
Repeat with the remaining dry mixture and milk, and beat until the batter is smooth.
Add the walnuts and then gently fold in the strawberries without beating.
Spoon into lined a muffin tin pan, filling each cup about 3/4 to 4/5 full.
Bake for 15 minutes, until the tops are cracking and an inserted toothpick comes out clean.
Allow to cool in the pan for about 15 minutes before removing.
Cook’s privilege. 😉
For the Strawberry Butter Frosting you will need:
1/2 cup of pureed strawberries
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1-1/2 cup powdered sugar (confectioners)
3/4 cup softened butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 pinch of salt
Directions: While the cupcakes are cooling, place the strawberries and brown sugar in a blender to puree. I tried to use my Cuisinart Smart Stick chopper, but it was not nearly fine enough, so I put it in the Osterizer blender and pulsed it to thoroughly puree it.
If you want reeeally smooth frosting, press the mixture through a fine mesh sieve before heating, but since the only sieve I have as yet is not very fine, I just put the mixture into the saucepan over medium heat for five minutes. Once it begins bubbling, stir very frequently to constantly to keep it from sticking to the bottom of the pan. The puree should reduce to about 1/3 cup. (Note: in my picture I made waaaay too much because I started with 1-1-2 cup of chopped strawberries! 😱)
After removing from heat, cool the mixture completely in the refrigerator or freezer.
Beat the butter and powdered sugar together with the vanilla and salt until it is light and fluffy.
Once the puree is cold, add it to the butter mixture and beat on high speed for three minutes or until it is very fluffy.
If it is too thin gradually add more powdered sugar until it reaches a slightly firm consistency. Remember, it will set a little more when it is refrigerated and the butter congeals.
However, if it is too thick, thin it down by adding little by little a few drops of milk.
Spread the frosting on the cupcakes and enjoy! If you want it really fancy like Smitha’s Bake Love, you will have to get an icing pipe with its various tips which I do not have yet.
Since fresh strawberries are in the mixes, the cupcakes should be refrigerated. If you have leftover frosting (and I had a LOT!), store it in the fridge as well and use if for buttering toast or spreading on bagels.
I topped each of the cupcakes with a strawberry that had been marinated with sugar for an hour.
Since Anita does not care for sweets much, I left half the cupcakes unfrosted, but actually the strawberry butter is not too sweet, certainly not as sweet as Anita. 😊