On to the plate

Experimenting with flavours, colours and style of food served at our place

Strawberry cupcakes using dried strawberry powder

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I’m on a bit of a mission. Well I’ve been trying for some time now to get flat cupcakes. It’s not that easy, but it turns out it’s not impossible. For others.

I tried a new recipe and I lowered my oven temperature right down to 150 degrees Celsius, from what should have been 175 degrees.

You may be wondering why I’m keen to achieve a flatter top for my cupcakes. Well the icing pipes on it better, and I want to try my hand at cupcake toppers. They’re made with fondant and placed on top of a slightly rounded (due to a layer of buttercream frosting) cupcake.

I’m making progress.

Trying for flat tops

Yeah ok, so there’s something very wrong with the one that appears to have a nipple on it. I have no idea what was going on in the oven to produce that!

Making it pretty

Anyway, the cupcakes.

I chose Glorys Vanilla Cupcake recipe. I’ve used Glory’s chocolate cupcake recipe before to make the Moro Gold Max Caramel Cupcakes.

I haven’t found any supermarket yet who stocks cake flour. I’ve found it for sale on TradeMe though. However I haven’t bought it yet and I know to take some flour out and add some cornflour in its place. The recommendation is to then sift the combination some 5 or so times. I took shortcuts. I don’t think you’d be able to tell had I not spilled the beans.

The recipe calls for 1 1/4 cups of cake flour. I had 1 cup of standard flour and 1/4 cup of cornflour and I used a whisk to give it a really good mix through. And we had cake flour (or a pretty decent substitute).

Ingredients

There was another change to the way to make the cupcake batter. Glory had done her own testing which you can read about on her blog Glorious Treats. She found using a hand mixer produced the best results for flat topped cupcakes.

I followed Glory’s instructions with the addition of the dried strawberry powder and the made-up cake flour.

I used my cookie scoop to place the batter into the cupcake liners. This helped give a more consistent serving of batter. As I dipped the scoop in I then used my finger to scrape the batter from the outside of the scoop. There’s nothing more annoying than finding the batter has dropped onto a cake liner.

I bought the white cupcake liners online, they are a little bigger than some of the liners I’ve used in the past. They are slightly higher. I was a little worried the batter was too little for the liner. The cookie scoop measures 3 tablespoons up to the metal scoop part of it, the bit that moves on the inside to release the contents.

Batter in the pans

I really like my silicone muffin pan. I like the cupcakes being more straight sided. But the cavity is a little smaller and often the liner wants to crinkle because they’re a little fuller than the top of the pan. You can see that happening with the liner in the bottom left of the right image. That cupcake is the one that had the “nipple”. It’s actually a little fuller. I scraped all of the left over batter into the liner. I wasn’t sure it was enough at the start, but it ended up being a little more than I needed. The recipe made 15 cupcakes using these two pans. They are 5cm at the base and 6.5cm at the top. I’d like a pan that was only 6cm at the top. If you know where you can get one with these dimensions I’d love to know. With the batter in I was hoping it was sufficient that it would reach the top of the liner during baking. I can tell you there were some anxious moments as I watched. I also urged them not to dome too much. It was all looking perfect, they were almost at the top of the liner and still flat. So I turned away. And then they domed a little bit. I think I can live with it.

Dont over do the frosting

One of the benefits of having a flatter surface for the cupcake is that you don’t need as much frosting. I guess that’s up to individual taste, but I didn’t have to start at the outer edge in order to get a base before achieving a swirl. I didn’t have to compete with the already domed cupcake. I used the Wilton 1M tip for these cupcakes.

So we’ve covered off doming, the liners and the cookie scoop. Best I get on with the recipe then.

Strawberry Cupcakes minimally adapted from Glory’s Vanilla Cupcakes

Ingredients

Cupcakes:

  • 1 cup standard flour
  • 1/4 cup cornflour
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried strawberry powder
  • 2 eggs
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup oil (vegetable, canola or extra light olive oil)
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk (or 1/2 cup milk plus 1/2 teaspoon white vinegar or lemon juice- add acid to the milk then set aside for 5 minutes before using)

Frosting:

  • 56gm softened butter
  • 1/4 cup shortening (I use Kremelta)
  • 2 cups of icing sugar
  • 2 tablespoons cream (or milk)
  • 1 teaspoon dried strawberry powder

Instructions

Cupcakes:

  • Heat the oven to 150 degrees Celsius.
  • Whisk the flour and cornflour together.
  • Add to the flour mix the baking powder, baking soda, dried strawberry powder and salt. Give all the ingredients a good whisk.
  • In a larger bowl add the eggs and using an electric hand mixer beat the eggs until they are mixed well.
  • Add the sugar and mix with the eggs on medium until combined.
  • Add the oil and vanilla extract to the egg and sugar mixture and on medium speed mix together. The mixture will thicken a little.
  • Add half of the flour ingredients and with the mixer on low mix until the flour is almost incorporated.
  • Add in half the buttermilk and continue to mix until it is just blended.
  • Put the remainder flour ingredients into the bowl and with the mixer on low mix until the flour is fully combined.
  • Add the last of the buttermilk and mix on low until fully combined.
  • Use a cookie scoop or a jug with a pour spout to fill the cupcake liners with about 3 tablespoons of batter.
  • Bake the cupcakes for 18-20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.
  • Turn the pan half way through baking.
  • Leave the cupcakes in the pan for a few minutes before transferring to a cooling rack.
  • When the cupcakes are completely cool then frost as desired.

Frosting:

  • Using a mixer beat together the butter and shortening.
  • Scrape the bowl down.
  • Add the icing sugar and dried strawberry powder and mix on low until combined. You want to avoid a dust storm so wait until most of the icing sugar has been incorporated before turning up the speed to complete mixing the icing sugar.
  • Depending on the consistency add the cream or milk one tablespoon at a time until you reach the desired consistency.
  • Increase the mixer to medium and continue to beat the frosting.
  • If you want a more intense strawberry flavour add more powder 1/4 teaspoon at a time. This is concentrated powder and a little will alter the flavour quite a lot.

Pretty in pink

The dried strawberry powder is by Fresh As. I found it at the Mediterranean Food Warehouse on Tuam Street. It cost $11.50 for a 30gm re-sealable sachet. A bit dearer than the $9.90 on the website, but then I didn’t have to pay for delivery.

The cupcakes are quite soft and you have to be careful handling them not to squish the sides. The texture is very delicate. As I cut into the cupcake the whole thing started following the knife, I thought it might fold in on itself. I’ll make these again, but I wont add cornflour, I’ll use 1 1/4 cups standard flour. I want to make the cupcakes for Easter and will be placing fondant on top, so I need a slightly sturdier cupcake since there’ll be a bit of handling going on to achieve what I have in mind.

texture of cupcake

The quantity of frosting was just perfect for 15 cupcakes. Of course it will depend on how generous you want to be. I had enough left for another cupcake. I ate it for dinner. Mr Fussy squeezed it all out into a little container and while I’ve been typing up this post I’ve been scooping a little at a time, and it’s all gone. The strawberry powder gives quite a tang. Nothing close to making you pucker your lips, it’s just a nice fresh taste. Though Mr Fussy was having trouble detecting it. I didn’t want to add any more because I didn’t want the colour any deeper than it was. All the colour came from the powder. The small amount I added to the batter didn’t colour it at all, and there’s nothing more than a hint of flavour. I thought you would need to use the powder sparingly but not quite as stingy as I was it seems.

Strawberry speckled frosting

I just wanted to point out the two different shapes I get from the two pans I use. See that one on the left? You can see how the sides are much more straight compared to the cupcake in the middle.

Often I find the batter, once baked, discolours the liner, or makes the liner look oily. I didn’t notice that at all with this recipe, but I still erred on the side of caution and so dressed these cupcakes up with a secondary liner. Of course you don’t need to do that. From further reading of other websites (American), you need to find liners with glassine or that state grease resistant for minimal oiliness.

While I don’t want to grumble about my beautiful country, I really am struggling to find the same type of liners of the same quality as you find overseas.

Right now I’ve ordered from Etsy to get designs I can’t find, here in Christchurch at least. And I’m about to place an order from Amazon in Canada where Gerry, a cousin of Mr Fussy’s dad, is going to send onto me. Thanks Gerry!  While I’m finding ways of getting around the limited supply I find in New Zealand, it would be wonderful if there was somewhere in NZ that supplied all the beautiful things that I’ve found online.  We wont speak of the £23 I spent on Easter decorations that arrived this week. This is turning out to be an expensive hobby. But I’m enjoying it, and I’m learning lots of new things, and I’m trying (or about to) different techniques of decoration.

I’m really looking forward to our trip to Melbourne early June. I’m hoping to spend equal time clothes shopping as I spend in Cake/Cook stores.

Little pearls, a little bling

Update: It’s Sunday, I decided I should really use some of those decorations I have stored in my pantry. I wondered how the pearl thingees would adhere to the icing almost 24 hours later. Well they don’t like to stay put. Those swirls are like a slide for them. They kept rolling down them and were spat out the bottom, caught by the liner. It was slightly amusing for all of 2 seconds. I used the cake decorating tweezers I have to individually pick them up and deliberately place them on the icing, giving a little push to make sure they stayed. I don’t know if it would have been any easier doing this on the day. It certainly gives me a greater appreciation for the time and effort some people put into their cupcake decorations. Maybe sanding sugar is easier, or Jimmies, 100’s and 10000’s. At least they’re less like a beach ball to a slide.

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