These cupcakes were inspired by a recent pick-your-own trip which was followed by my first batch of home-made jam this year. Strawberries have to be my favourite fruit and my daughter thinks the same, so we love this time of the year. She has previously polished off a whole punnet of strawberries in the 10 minutes it took to get home!
Here, the vehicle for all this strawberry loveliness is a batch of my basic vanilla cupcakes. You will also need the following:
- Some strawberry jam. I used my home-made jam but that is only because I’ve discovered a love of jam making in the past couple of years. It is perfectly fine to use shop bought jam.
- A batch of buttercream. To ice 12-15 cupcakes you will need 8oz butter and 1lb sifted icing sugar then follow the method in my standard buttercream recipe.
- A sharp knife.
- 1 tablespoon milk.
- Strawberry essence. I used one from Lakeland which I got when it was on offer.
- Pink gel food colouring.
- 12-15 small strawberries (no need to remove the stalk).
- A disposable piping bag and large nozzle of your choice.
If you would like to make a gluten free batch of summer strawberry cupcakes, follow my GF recipe instead but don’t use the cocoa powder or chocolate chips. All the other ingredients listed here are gluten free so you can decorate the cupcakes in exactly the same way.
There are quite a few stages to making up these cupcakes but don’t be put off as they are worth it in the end, I promise!
1) Make up a batch of fluffy buttercream.
Place the milk in a small bowl, add in approximately 20 drops of the strawberry essence and mix together. Your kitchen will now smell like a strawberry field! Add this mixture to the buttercream and briefly beat together.
Now add in a little of the pink food colouring gel. I advise caution here – unless you want to have bright pink buttercream, just add a very small amount as you can always put in a bit more. Beat into the buttercream until thoroughly combined.
You should now have a lovely, fluffy, pale pink buttercream. Taste it to check that it has a strawberry flavour that you are happy with.
2) Now to prepare the cupcakes.
Take each cupcake and, using the sharp knife, cut out a small circle from the centre of each cake. Remove this and fill the hole with some strawberry jam. Replace the piece of cake that you cut out and gently press this down.
3) Piping the buttercream onto the cakes.
Snip the end off the disposable piping bag and insert the nozzle you have chosen. Place the bag upright in a glass and turn the top of the piping bag down over the glass – this will make it easier for you to fill it with buttercream. Then spoon the buttercream into the piping bag and and remove from the glass. Carefully push the icing down towards the nozzle then twist the top of the bag. This is now ready for piping.
Place the nozzle just above, but not touching, the surface of the cupcake along the outside edge. Gently squeeze the piping bag until the buttercream starts to appear out of the nozzle. Keep squeezing as you start to follow the papercase round the outside edge of the cupcake. As you come back round to where you started, move the nozzle inwards and lift it up slightly so you begin to get some height in the buttercream swirl. Continue to pipe in an inwards spiral until you get to the middle. Give the bag one last squeeze then pause before lifting upwards to end the swirl.
I also decorated some of my cupcakes to look like roses. To do this, you will need to do the opposite of the cupcake swirl. Start piping in the middle of the cupcake and, keeping the nozzle just above the surface of the cake at all times, continue in an outwards spiral. Finish by swiping the nozzle along the outside edge and lifting away to the side.
4) The final decoration.
To finish off the cupcakes, place a whole strawberry carefully on the top of the buttercream swirl. You can also dust with a little sifted icing sugar if you like.
For the roses, add a fresh mint leaf where you finished piping.
These cupcakes make a lovely gift for someone or why not make them as part of a special afternoon tea party?
Because the cupcakes are decorated with fresh fruit and the buttercream contains milk, they will only keep for a couple of days. If you are not going to eat them all within this time, leave some cupcakes un-iced and make them up a couple of hours before you want to eat them. In this case, store the plain cupcakes in an air tight container and keep the buttercream, covered over, in the fridge.