Saturday, February 11, 2012

Strawberry Buttermilk Cupcakes for Valentine's Day

I have finally braved the kitchen here at Mills, even though the oven is about 60 years old and is on a completely different floor from the prep space...I did it because Valentine's day is coming up and I had to share some recipes with you all and get back in the kitchen! I had a bunch of buttermilk and cream cheese frosting left over from baking club, so I got to work making these tasty cupcakes.

The weather today was perfect for taking pictures: overcast and bright. I was so delighted to discover that the creepy little kitchen has these awesome old windows and I have finally, for the first time ever, been able to bake in a room with amazing lighting. So, I had fun taking pictures of the baking process as well.
I hope you enjoy the recipe, I adapted it from the buttermilk cake recipe in "Super Natural Every Day" which you can find on my books page. I didn't have some of the same ingredients, so I tweaked it a bit. I will admit that 16 strawberries were smuggled out of the Mills cafeteria in my bag this morning, but at least I shared the final product with the other people in my dorm, so hopefully I won't have any bad karma!

Ready for the oven!

The old oven.

Little cupcakes going in.

I took the cupcakes all around campus. I am in love with the blossoming trees right now.

Vanilla speckles.

One cupcake looking for love.

The other cupcake is sad and lonely until...

...they find each-other! And they live happily ever after.

Needless to say, they were gone when I came back!
Strawberry Buttermilk Cupcakes (with vanillabean cream cheese frosting)
2 1/2 cups unbleached pastry flour
1 tbs baking soda
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 tsp fine grain sea salt
2 large eggs
1 1/2 cups buttermilk
1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled
grated zest of two organic oranges
approximately 16 strawberries, chopped
some large-grain or turbinado sugar for decoration

Preheat your oven to 400F. Prepare a muffin tin by spraying the tops and filling 18 cups with cupcake papers.
Whisk together the flour, salt, baking soda and sugar in a bowl. In another bowl whisk together the eggs and buttermilk. Add the butter and zest and whisk. Add the buttermilk mixture to the dry ingredients and mix until just combined.
Pour the batter into the cupcake cups until each is 2/3 full. Sprinkle the cupcakes lightly with chopped strawberries, then with the large-grain sugar.
Bake for 10 minutes or until golden. Be sure to rotate halfway through to ensure even baking. Let cool and serve with vanilla bean cream cheese frosting. Decorate with remaining strawberry slices.

Vanilla Bean Cream Cheese Frosting
It was an accident that we used vanilla beans in baking club last night because I forgot to buy vanilla at the store. The speckles are so pretty though, I didn't regret it.
1/2 vanilla bean
4 oz cream cheese
3/4 cup granulated sugar
Whip the cream cheese and sugar together with a hand-held mixer. Cut the vanilla bean lengthwise and scrape the seeds into the frosting. You can save the pod for flavoring another dish. Whip until light and fluffy. Pipe onto your cooled buttermilk cupcakes.

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