Eat These Cupcakes
Avid reader that I am, I love the food and literature blog “Eat This Poem,” authored by Nicole Gulotta, an LA-based writer who finds inspiration for recipes in poetry.
She has such a great a idea.. put a poem in your mouth, chew it, enjoy it, swallow it, make it a part of you.
Poems are also great food for the writing mind. They succinctly convey rhythm, cadence and emotion on a page. Sometimes I read a poem, just to get my writing juices going before writing a long story. I’m always striving for ways to make my stories more readable and interesting. It’s challenging because I am often writing about some serious health policy topic.
Last week I was looking at Gulotta’s blog and saw this post for a poppyseed cake with strawberry icing, and from that moment on, I wanted to make a cake with strawberry icing.
My niece Hannah became the perfect excuse. She just turned 8 and I decided to make her strawberry cupcakes. She also has a little brother Toby, who is 4. I have learned that kids are finicky so I figured I shouldn’t make anything with poppyseeds. Vanilla cake was safe and I thought I should make 2 icing flavors, strawberry and vanilla, just in case Toby wasn’t a fan of strawberry.
I’ve made vanilla cake many times, and this version is my favorite. It’s a modified Cook’s Illustrated recipe. (they’re recipes generally are excellent). To save time, for the cake I used liquid egg whites from a carton, which worked just fine. I also modified the icing a bit, by adding a little more milk.
Classic Vanilla cupcakes
(Modified from Cooks Illustrated)
- 2 1/4 cups (9 ounces) cake flour , plus more for dusting the pans
- 1 cup whole milk , at room temperature
- 6 large egg whites (3/4 cup), at room temperature
- 2 teaspoons almond extract
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 3/4 cups (12 1/4 ounces) granulated sugar
- 4 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon table salt
12 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 1/2 sticks), softened but still cool
Vanilla Buttercream Frosting
- 16 tablespoons unsalted butter (2 sticks), softened but still cool
- 4 cups confectioners’ sugar (1 pound), sifted
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 1 1/2 tablespoons whole milk
- pinch table salt
Strawberry Frosting –
Same ingredients as for vanilla frosting but add around 1/2 cup to 1 cup of strawberry jam or more to taste.
- For the Cupcakes: Set oven rack in middle position. Heat oven to 350 degrees.
- Line two muffin pans with cupcake liners
- Pour milk, egg whites, and extracts into 2-cup glass measure, and mix with fork until blended.
- Mix cake flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in bowl of electric mixer at slow speed. Add butter; continue beating at slow speed until mixture resembles moist crumbs, with no powdery streaks remaining.
- Add all but 1/2 cup of milk mixture to crumbs and beat at medium speed (or high speed if using handheld mixer) for 1 1/2 minutes.The batter gets very, very liquidy. Don’t worry.
- Add remaining 1/2 cup of milk mixture and beat 30 seconds more. Stop mixer and scrape sides of bowl. Return mixer to medium (or high) speed and beat 20 seconds longer.
- Pour cupcake batter into liners to about 3/4 of the way full. I like to fill a measuring cup and then pour the batter into the liners.
- Bake until thin skewer or toothpick inserted in the center of cupcakes comes out clean, 15 to 20 minutes.
- Let cupcakes rest in pans for 3 minutes. Invert onto wire racks and let cool completely, about 1 1/2 hours.
- For the Frosting: Beat butter, confectioners’ sugar, vanilla, milk, and salt in bowl of mixer at slow speed until sugar is moistened. Increase speed to medium-high (high if using handheld mixer); beat, stopping twice to scrape down bowl. Add strawberry jam to taste. until creamy and fluffy, about 2 minutes.