Ever since I first started baking as a child, I've been searching for a recipe for strawberry cupcakes—perfect, pink confections with the sweet flavor of pure sunshine. There are plenty of versions to be found, but most call for frozen strawberries or strawberry jam. I wanted cupcakes that incorporated actual berries—preferably ones I had plucked from a bush myself from the rows behind my local farm stand. After years of searching to no avail, I had all but given up.
Enter Martha Hall Foose, author of this week's Cook the Book selection, Screen Doors and Sweet Tea. I literally squealed with joy when I turned to page 230 and discovered her recipe for Ponchatoula Strawberry Cupcakes. Not only do the cupcakes call for 1 cup of mashed ripe strawberries but the frosting uses 1/2 cup as well. The results are gorgeous—tender little cakes with a beautiful rosy hue, perfect for any tea or birthday party.
Win 'Screen Doors and Sweet Tea'
- Yield:24 cupcakes
- For the cake:
- 2 1/2 cups cake flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/3 cup buttermilk
- 1/4 cup canola oil
- 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
- 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 1 cup mashed fresh or frozen strawberries
- 1 teaspoon grated orange zest
- For the frosting:
- 1/2 cup chopped fresh or frozen strawberries
- 2 tablespoons strawberry jam
- 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice 1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened
- 1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
- 4 cups powdered sugar
Make the cupcakes. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Spray a muffin tin with nonstick cooking spray or line with foil baking cups.
In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, and salt.
In another medium bowl, combine the buttermilk, oil, and almond and vanilla extracts; set aside.
In an electric mixer, beat the butter and granulated sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Gradually add the buttermilk mixture. Beat for 1 minute at medium speed.
Reduce the speed to low and add the flour mixture. Mix until just combined. Stir in the strawberries and the orange zest. Spoon into the prepared muffin tins, filling them two-thirds full. Bake for 18 to 20 minutes, or when cupcakes spring back when touched lightly in the center. Cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then unmold the cupcakes and cool on racks.
Make the frosting. In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine the strawberries, jam, and lemon juice. Cook and stir for 5 minutes, or until the jam is melted and the strawberries are soft. Press any big pieces with the back of a spoon to mash.
In an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix the cream cheese and butter at medium speed until creamy. At low speed, slowly add the confectioners’ sugar and mix until combined. Add the strawberries and mix at low speed until blended.
When the cupcakes are completely cool, spread with the frosting.