Strawberry cupcakes with marshmallow buttercream are moist strawberry-sweetened cupcakes topped with fluffy marshmallow buttercream frosting.
According to the calendar, we still have a few more weeks of summer left on the books; however for those of us living Up North, we know that our days of warmth could very well be numbered. Come September here on the 45th parallel, we start thinking about getting the snow tires rotated back on to our 4 x 4s. Sad, but true.
Being the week before Labor Day, I am firmly planting my feet in the summer season, celebrating as many days of warmth and sunshine as we are afforded before the inevitable chill sets in.
And around here, all good things are celebrated with cake. Actually, all things around here are punctuated with cake, if I’m being honest. Cake is Universal. But a sweet, summery strawberry cake with a fluffy, vanilla bean-y, marshmallow-y buttercream? That’s just the sort of thing that’ll put a cheery spring in your step as winter looms in the distance–you can quote me on that!
To make the strawberry cake, gather a little granulated sugar, cake flour, 2% milk, good quality strawberry jam, unsalted butter, strawberry flavored gelatin (optional,) vanilla extract, baking powder, and salt.
Preheat the oven to 350º F. Line the wells of 24 muffin cups with cupcake wrappers.
Food Dork Trivia Alert: Why use cake flour instead of all-purpose flour? Well, although I tend to use all-purpose flour for most sweet baking applications, in the case of strawberry cake, I opt for the lighter-textured cake flour so that the cake batter doesn’t end up too heavy after the addition of the strawberry jam.
Since the jam is a sticky, dense liquid, it will weigh down the batter, causing the leavening agents (i.e.; the baking powder & salt) to work even harder to get it to spring back up while baking. Heavy cake batter = a dense, flat cake. While you could just add more leavening to counteract the weight of the jam, doing so could give the entire cake a metallic/bitter aftertaste. If you’ve ever eaten a bite of cake or a cookie in which the leavening wasn’t evenly incorporated, and tasted a clump of baking powder, then you know what I’m talking about. Blech!
If you’d like to know more about the differences of various types of flour, I did a post on flours that I commonly use in baking over here.
Cream the butter and sugar together before adding the vanilla. Then mix in the eggs, one at a time, until incorporated.
Add one-third of the flour mixture to the bowl, and stir to combine.
Keep the mixer running on low speed while slowly pouring in one-half of the milk, mixing it in until just incorporated. Repeat the process of blending another one-third of the flour mixture, then the remaining milk, and finally the last of the flour mixture.
Add the strawberry jam to the strawberry cupcakes batter. The jam used in the cake makes all the difference, as it is what gives the cake the majority of it’s flavor. Be sure to use a good quality, fresh-tasting jam. If you happen to make your own jam, use it. Otherwise buy the stuff in the fancy jars with the faux-handwritten labels, or whatever you would serve to the Duchess of Cambridge if ever she were to come over for tea & scones.
Hey, it could happen.
I certainly couldn’t leave all that talk about fancy-jam without following up with a bit of whimsy, and nothing says whimsy like strawberry Jell-O. Adding a tiny bit of strawberry flavored gelatin punches up the flavor of the cake while making it a nice shade of pink.
I’ve made strawberry cupcakes and cake many times without the strawberry gelatin, so if the mere thought of Jell-O makes you break out in hives or something, then by all means skip it.
Fill the prepared cupcake wrappers 2/3 of the way full with the cake batter. Bake in the preheated 350° F oven for 18 to 20 minutes, or until the cupcakes are just set in the middle. Take the cupcakes out of the oven and let them cool in their pans for 5 minutes before removing them to cool completely on a wire rack.
While all this strawberry cupcakes business is going on, make the marshmallow buttercream frosting.
I have a confession to make…I hope that you won’t think less of me after you hear what I have to say.
I’m not a huge fan of frosting.
There. I said it. I hope that we can still be friends. 😉
Allow me to explain…for me, it’s all about the cake. I think that most frosting is so intensely sweet that it kind of ruins the whole experience for me. Don’t get me wrong, I have several really good buttercream recipes that I will eat right out of the bowl with a spoon, but they have to be subtle and well balanced. This marshmallow buttercream is very much in balance–real vanilla bean tempers the sweetness, and the marshmallow creme makes the whole affair so light & airy–the perfect accompaniment to strawberry cake.
Marshmallow Buttercream is simple to make with powdered sugar, marshmallow creme, a vanilla bean, and unsalted butter.
Place the butter into a large bowl.
The warm water will help keep the marshmallow creme from getting too sticky and unruly.
Beat together the butter and marshmallow creme until fluffy.
Run a paring knife lengthwise along the vanilla bean to halve it. Gently scrape out the “caviar” inside the vanilla beans, and add it to the frosting in the bowl.
Wait! Don’t throw away the vanilla bean hulls–they’re useful in all sorts of tasty things!
Fill a piping bag with the marshmallow buttercream, and affix your tip-of-choice. I used a Wilton #12 tip. No piping bags? No problem! A similar effect can be achieved by using a plastic zip top bag, and cutting the bottom corner off. Or you could just use a small spatula.
Whatever works. Just have fun decorating your strawberry cupcakes!
Cheers, Friends! 🙂
Join me in celebrating summer with Strawberry Cupcakes with Marshmallow Buttercream. Quick! Before it starts snowing up here!