Cupcakes are pretty, and topping them with beautiful, red strawberries and lemon buttercream makes them quite glamorous. I have been making cakes for our office birthdays this year which I really enjoy. My office is so thrilled to have something better than you can get at Safeway (which was our default two block walk for cake). This time they were expecting cake and I brought them cupcakes instead. Whew, what a surprise. Mostly to change things up a bit and simplify the cake cutting awkward waiting period that happens while everyone sits around the conference room table. (Our office might rival "The Office" in awkward moments -I'm not joking).
We lit a candle and sang for Joey. It was a special birthday year (I made her two cakes!) and I made her favorite cake combo - White Cake with Strawberries. I added some flare by filling the cakes with strawberry filling (aka good quality jam - seeds removed) and topping them with delicate buttercream. The edges got a little crispy in the pan (my oven decided to overheat in the middle of baking) but everyone seemed to like the texture contrast. Thankfully they didn't taste burnt. Perfectionism is a good and bad quality. I almost remade the whole batch....
The white cake recipe I have is delicate and makes a good cupcake. Moist, not crumbly. I used buttermilk this time and think it is a good change. I was asked if the cupcake could be called the "Joey Cupcake" but I was thinking something that rolled off the tongue like "Favaloro's Favorite." I think I can do that.
White Cake with Strawberry Filling
adapted from Baking From My Home to Yours, Dorie Greenspan
For the Cupcakes
1 1/4 C cake flour
1 C all purpose flour
1 T baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/4 C buttermilk
4 egg whites (this is what makes the cake white not yellow)
1 1/2 C sugar
zest of one lemon
1/2 C butter
1/2 tsp vanilla extract (or lemon extract)
Fresh strawberries for decorating (at least 1 pint)
Line two tins with 18 muffin cups. Preheat the oven to 350˚F. Sift the dry ingredients excluding the sugar. Whisk together the buttermilk and eggs.
In the bowl of a mixer, rub the zest into the sugar until it is fragrant. Attach the paddle and fix the bowl to your stand mixer. Cream the sugar with the butter until light and fluffy. Add vanilla. Scrape the sides of the bowl and mix again for another minute. Add half of the milk/egg. Mix 1/3 of the flour mixture. As soon as it is almost incorporated, mix in half the milk/egg mix, and repeat ending with the flour. Mix for another minute or two to make sure everything is fully incorporated. Fill the muffin cups 2/3 full, you should yield at least 18. Bake for 20 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean.
For the filling
Heat 1/3 C seedless raspberry jam in the microwave (or stovetop) until it is thin enough to pour.
Once the cupcakes are cool, use a pairing knife and cut a cone shape out of the top of the cupcake. Don't worry if it isn't perfect - the frosting will cover it. Spoon about 1/2 Tablespoon into the opening and place the cone back on top. Frost, decorate, and chill to set the buttercream.
For the buttercream
1 C sugar
4 egg whites
3 sticks butter at room temperature
2 T lemon juice
1 tsp vanilla
Whisk sugar and egg whites in a stainless steel bowl and set over a saucepan with simmering water. Make sure the bowl doesn't touch the water. Whisk until the mix feels hot to the touch. It will be very shiny. Add it to the stand mixer with the whisk attachment. Whisk on medium speed for about 5 minutes until the bowl comes to room temperature. Switch back to the paddle attachment. Cut the butter in half. Add one piece at a time. Wait to add more until the previous butter is mostly incorporated. Once all the butter is in, increase the speed to medium-high and beat for about 10 minutes. The buttercream will probably start to curdle but do not fret, it will become smooth again. After it is smooth, add the juice and vanilla a little bit at a time and voila, a perfect buttercream. Place a piece of plastic wrap on the surface and chill in the fridge a few minutes but not too long! Pipe onto the cupcakes (be sure to cover the cut portion).