California strawberries are ripe, juicy and so delicious right now. I picked up a couple containers over the weekend and as soon as I got them into the kitchen I could smell their fruity aroma. It was incredible and a sure sign that summer is just around the corner.
Strawberries by far are my favorite fruit, have been as long as I can remember. As a kid I would throw an entire container in a colander, rinse them in some water, and take them out on our back deck and just eat them throughout the afternoon as I played whatever game my sister and I had created for the day.
These sweet red fruits were nearly the end of me, though. I was probably five years old and I had just laid my hands on the biggest, reddest, strawberry in the bunch and I inhaled that sucker. Too excited to even chew, I popped that baby in my mouth and the next thing you know, that enormous strawberry was stuck in my throat. I started gasping for air, starting to think that this was probably the end of my life and I was okay with that because my last moments would be trying to eat the largest, juiciest strawberry that had ever been created! Then my mom has to come over and pound that sucker lose and there shot my pride and joy, the best thing that had ever happened to me in all my five years, right onto the floor.
I don’t know what I was angrier about, that my mom had pumped that luscious strawberry out of my mouth or that it landed on the floor and was tossed in the trash. I can still remember that feeling of disappointment to this day.
Even after that tragic day, strawberries have always had my heart and these homemade strawberry cupcakes are no different. You start with a traditional yellow cake and mix in diced fresh strawberries. They come out of the oven, light and airy, with just a slight golden color and smelling of sweet vanilla and berries. You could stop here and eat one (or twelve) as is, but I’ve decided to add a healthy mound of homemade Swiss meringue buttercream icing mixed with strawberry jam.
If you have never had Swiss meringue buttercream icing you have not lived. It is light and fluffy, creamy with a texture similar to fresh whipped cream, but so much more decadent. It is my absolute favorite icing, I could (and have) eaten it with a spoon, and is the perfect complement to these fresh, bright cupcakes.
- 1½ cup all purpose flour
- 1½ cup cake flour (not self-rising)
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1¾ cups sugar
- 4 large eggs
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 1¼ cup milk
- 10 ounces fresh strawberries, hulled and cut into small pieces
- 4 large egg whites
- 1¼ cups sugar
- 1½ cup (3 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature, and cut into tablespoon size pieces
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ½ cup strawberry jam
- Preheat oven to 350 degress F. Line cupcake pans with paper liners and set aside.
- In a medium bowl, sift together both flours, baking powder and salt; set aside.
- In a bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy (about 3-4 minutes), scraping down the bowl as needed.
- Beat in the eggs, one at a time, and then beat in the vanilla.
- With the mixer on low speed, add the flour mixture in three parts, alternating with the milk. Begin and end with the flour, beating well after each addition.
- Remove the bowl of the stand mixer and fold in the fresh strawberries.
- Divide the batter among the prepared cups so that each is about two-thirds of the way full.
- Bake, rotating the pans halfway through, until the cupcakes are golden brown and a cake tester comes out clean, about 18-20 minutes.
- Transfer pans to a wire rack and let cool 5 minutes.
- Remove cupcakes from pan and cool completely on the wire rack.
- In a heatproof bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water, combined the egg whites and sugar.
- Cook, whisking constantly, until the sugar has dissolved and the mixture reaches 160 degrees on an instant-read thermometer.
- Transfer mixture to the bowl of a stand mixer that has been fitted with the whisk attachment.
- Beat the egg-white mixture on high speed until it holds stiff peaks. Continue beating until mixture is fluffy and cooled, about 6 minutes.
- Switch to the paddle attachment and with the mixer on medium-low speed, add the butter several tablespoons at a time. Beat well after each addition.
- If the frosting appears to separate, beat on medium-high speed until smooth again, about 3-5 minutes.
- Beat in the vanilla and continue beating for a couple minutes to eliminate any air bubbles.
- Remove bowl from stand mixer and stir in strawberry jam with a rubber spatula until frosting is smooth. (More or less jam can be used depending on your taste preference).
- Spread or pipe the frosting on top of each cooled cupcake.