The comely bakerswoman can see a bad egg through its shell, she can tell a good flour from the whiff of its first dust as she opens the pack. She can discern an out-of-box cupcake by just touching it with the tip of her forefinger, she’d diss a batch of turned berries even if the one who grew them was her favorite seller at the Farmer’s market. She chooses her pans and mixers with care, she wouldn’t buy a dent in one of them or a blunt blade in the other if they came for practically a song. Yet, sometimes in baking, even the best gadgets are wont to fail her. When on a mission, she trusts nothing but her own ingenuity and the magic of her hands. Especially if the mission is inducted by a little cupcake lover who breathes, dreams and sings of her impending birthday right from the start of her birth month.
On the chosen day, in the week leading upto the most special birthday in the household, a strawberry shortcake movie is playing in the background, peals of elated squeals are reverberating through the walls. Our nifty bakerswoman arches her brows in pure joy, and then dons on her checkered blue apron, culling out fresh strawberries from the depths of the refrigerator tray, having already aligned the flours, eggs and pans on the counter. It’s time to dish out some strawberry cupcakes from scratch, following in the footsteps of Martha Stewart, while nodding along in concurrence to Marcianne Miller of The Artful Cupcake fame..as the pages of her book flutter in the cool breeze wafting in from the open French windows. We bring you the recipe below:
- About 3/4 Cup fresh strawberries for the puree
- 1 1/2 Cups all-purpose flour, sifted
- 1 Teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 Teaspoon salt
- 1/4 Cup 2% milk, at room temperature (whole milk works perfectly well, if you prefer it, but the 2% milk won’t severely spoil the texture of these cupcakes)
- 1 Teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 3 oz (6 tablespoons) apple sauce
- 1/4 Cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1/4 Cup Vegetable oil
- 1 Cup sugar
- 1 Large egg, at room temperature
- 2 Large egg whites, at room temperature
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Line a 12-cup muffin tin with cupcake liners, go with pretty polka dotted ones for your little girl and her pals, or sightly stripes for your little boy and his buddies. Puree the strawberries in your food processor or blender, the yield should be atleast 1/4 cup of puree. In a medium bowl, whisk together all the dry ingredients – flour, baking powder, and salt. In a small bowl, mix the liquids together – the milk, vanilla, applesauce and strawberry puree. Cream the butter until soft and fluffy with a whisk, or, if using an electric mixer, fit with the paddle attachment, and run it on medium-high speed. Add the oil, then gradually add the sugar and continue to beat until well combined. Slowly fold in the egg and egg whites and mix until well incorporated. Add the dry ingredients mixture slowly, mix well. If using the electric mixer, reduce the speed to low at this point. Add in the liquids, continue mixing and then add the remaining dry ingredients mixture, until just blended, not more than 20 strokes on the whole.
Divide the batter evenly into the muffin cups. Put the muffin tin in the oven and bake until the tops are just dry to the touch, approximately 22 to 25 minutes. Transfer muffin tin to a wire rack and let your cupcakes cool completely in the tin before frosting.
Our buttercream frosting works great, plain or infused with more berry goodness if you have some puree to spare. You could sprinkle colored sugar on top or dot the frosting with candy for added fun. Cupcake toppers of your choice will add a special edge to these cupcakes, if you’re baking them for a special occasion, like our nifty bakerswoman.
Eating a cupcake is a simple, childlike delight, like finding a treasure in the palm of your hand. And no matter how artful and grown-up we make a cupcake, in creating it, we tap the passion for color, shape, texture and sweet-tasting things in which we once took such unabashed pleasure.
~ Marcianne Miller in The Artful Cupcake: Baking and Decorating Delicious Indulgences.
(The nifty bakerswoman tosses her flour-dusted apron in the hamper and scurries right back into the kitchen to whip up the buttercream frosting and to frost a couple of the berry-licious cupcakes for her and her little girl before stowing the big batch away for the birthday. In sheer childlike delight, they bite into the soft folds of the berry-loaded cupcake, while the frosting leaves streaks of happy whiskers on their chins.)
Recipe adapted from Candace Nelson’s (from Sprinkles Cupcakes) recipe featured on the Martha Stewart show: http://www.marthastewart.com/258957/sprinkles-strawberry-cupcakes