The flu hit our house like a ton of bricks this week and it hasn't been fun. Lily turned into a snot-machine (a cute snot machine, but still!) and all mama and daddy could do was pass each other some Kleenex and Theraflu and snuggle in bed all day long singing her favorite songs off-key.
Oh, and during those magic times when the drugs kicked in, we baked cupcakes. The cupcakes weren't actually for us, though. They went to a bridal shower for my sister's best friend, whom I've known since she was four years old. Sometimes, when I look at her, all grown up, engaged, almost married, I still see the four year old who helped me tease my sister mercilessly. (Well, she still does that. Good to know that some things don't change, huh!) So when I promised to bake her some cupcakes, I knew that these had to be special. I picked a simple Martha Stewart recipe for cupcakes, but then -- oh, then! -- I filled them with rich pastry cream and topped them with even richer strawberry buttercream made with fresh strawberries and the best butter I could find. Oh YEAH.
What can I tell you? These were really good! Actually, people at the bridal shower were asking my sister (I couldn't go - damn flu!) whether I had quit my job at the law firm to open a cupcake shop. Hehehe. The cupcakes had a nice, light crumb, and weren't too sweet - which is exactly what I was looking for. It's a great basic cupcake recipe that lets you play with fillings and toppings. I definitely recommend it!
Vanilla Cupcakes (Makes 24 cupcakes) [made about 27 for me, but I didn't overfill] (Martha Stewart)
3 cups all-purpose flour 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder 3/4 teaspoon salt 1 1/2 cups (12 tablespoons) unsalted butter, room temperature 1 1/2 cups sugar 4 large eggs 2 teaspoons vanilla extract 1 1/4 cups milk Pastry Cream (I used the Tartine recipe for light pastry cream) Strawberry Buttercream (recipe below)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line two standard 12-cup muffin tins with paper liners; set aside. Whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl; set aside. Cream butter and sugar on medium-high speed until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add eggs, 1 at a time, mixing well after each egg. Add vanilla. Reduce speed to medium. Mix in 3 batches of flour mixture, alternating with 2 batches of milk. Raise speed to medium-high; mix until thoroughly blended, 10 to 20 seconds.
Fill each muffin cup about 3/4 full with batter. Bake until a cake tester inserted into centers comes out clean, about 17 minutes. Let cool in tin on wire racks 10 minutes. Remove cupcakes from tin and decorate.
If filling with cream, use a small spoon or the tip of a knife to make a small hole in the center of each cupcake, going about half way through the cupcake. Fill the hole with cream and then pipe buttercream on top.
Strawberry Buttercream 2 sticks (16 tbsp) of butter, room temperature 1 cup strawberries, pureed (I measured out the strawberries first and then pureed them) 3-4 cups powdered sugar
Cream the butter in the mixer on medium-high speed for about 3 minutes. On slow speed, gradually add about 2 cups of powdered sugar and turn back up to high for a few minutes to really incorporate the sugar. Turn to slow speed again and fold in the strawberries. Add more sugar until desired consistency is achieved. Once all the sugar is incorporated, turn to medium-high for a few minutes to mix well.