My poor coworkers. Normally, during the school year, when I bake (and boy did I go on a rampage this year), my coworkers are the main benefactors of my baked goods. I love baking things, but usually it involves making more than two or three cupcakes, so I pawn my desserts off on my poor, beleaguered workmates. Having said that, I sometimes forget about my husband’s coworkers. More often than not, they get to hear stories without being recipients. But they’ve helped me remember, because they’re having a work potluck and they have a request for me! Yay! I love taking requests. The request this time: strawberry cupcakes.
This one is a toughie for me. I’ve been watching a lot of Cupcake Wars (because summer and cooking and I ran out of MasterChef episodes), and most of the time when they make strawberry cupcakes, it doesn’t seem to work out. Strawberries have a lot of water in them, and they tend to release all that water during the baking process, making your baked goods gooey but not in a good way. And sometimes you can get around that by filling it in the center with jam or a compote or something like that, but I didn’t want to do that.
Instead, I immediately thought of a recipe I had seen on Smitten Kitchen’s website (because she’s a goddess, sigh): pink lady cake. But because I’ve gotten a request, it feels. . .special. Like I must deliver with verve and pizzazz. Hence the test. Here’s the recipe I’m using:
Now, I pureed fresh strawberries, but I didn’t strain it. I did this because when I thought to strain it and get rid of the seeds, it just looked too thin and watery, so I left it with all the seeds and more of the oomph of the strawberries. When they came out, it was very subtle, so in the remaining half batch or so I put in the extra half cup of puree in it.
I also got very annoyed because I’ve been having trouble keeping my cupcakes from burning on the bottom, and I’m pretty sure it’s actually the type of liner I’ve been using. They go a funny color and get all burny on the bottom. I just got a new type of liner to see if that’s the problem, but I’m seriously annoyed that the bottoms of my cupcakes are getting frazzled because of something beyond my control. Grrrr.
So for the second batch (where I added more strawberry puree), I also put it in for a shorter time in order to combat the burny bottoms. Sigh. They took hardly any time at all, as it was. They were totes done in fifteen minutes in my oven. Another sigh. The second batch I put in for about twelve minutes. Despite the fact that it had more strawberry, the husband still complained that there wasn’t enough strawberry flavor. Am considering cutting out the center and filling it with a compote, contrary to what I originally thought. Sigh. Ah well, life of a baker.
This batch made 45 for me. Yikes. Because I didn’t have coworkers (either mine or his) to pawn these off on, I had to give a dozen to a friend, a dozen to the front office of my apartment complex, seven(ish) to an upstairs neighbor, and 7(ish) to my local YMCA, which is within walking distance and to which I go at least five times a week, so I felt like they deserved some cupcakes.
I also ended up buying a bunch of fruit this week because fruit craving, so I ended up with three cartons of strawberries and raspberries apiece and two of blueberry. The strawberry was clearly intended for the above recipe, but today I was thinking, what to do with the other berries? Then I remembered: when in a jam, JAM!
So I also made raspberry jam today.
It was super easy, too. I didn’t use pectin or anything, so I’ll probably have to eat it pretty quickly. Oh what a bummer. 2 cups of fruit for every cup of sugar. Make sure you sterilize your container first, then mash up and bring to a boil your 2 cups of fruit.
Slowly add your cup of sugar, then reduce for 15-40 minutes until it’s gone down by a 1/4 and drips slowly off the spoon. Let it cool for at least 15 minutes, then put it in aforementioned sterilized container.
I also let it sit in the jar for a bit before I put the lid on, to make sure it didn’t get too steamy. Is it weird to say I get nervous about overly steamy containers? Well, I do. No sense in hiding it. Now excuse me, I think I feel some toast coming on. happy baking!