Sunday, April 29, 2012

Ponchatoula Strawberry Cupcakes

It’s strawberry picking season, and while I no longer have the knees for such a task, I do love going to the local farm and buying as many quarts of still-warm, fresh-from-the-fields strawberries as I can carry.  I also find this time of the year a great one to pluck Screen Doors and Sweet Tea: Recipes and Tales from a Southern Cook (one of my favorite cookbooks) from the shelves and page through in search of something new to put on the table.  Frankly, I find the title alone to be charming.  It reminds me of lazy summer days, refreshing glasses of lemonade, and cool salads for supper instead of a hot, heavy meal.

This recipe jumped out at me as a great way to use some of the rapidly ripening strawberries scenting my kitchen with their heady aroma.  These cupcakes just say summer to me.  The texture is wonderfully moist, the strawberry flavor truly fresh and genuine; the frosting that drapes itself over the sides of the cupcakes, I could eat with a spoon.

Ponchatoula Strawberry Cupcakes
(Makes 24 cupcakes)

2 ½  cups cake flour 
1 teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt 
1/3 cup buttermilk
¼ cup canola oil
½ teaspoon almond extract
1 teaspoon vanilla extract 
½  cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1 ½  cups granulated sugar 
2 large eggs
1 cup mashed fresh or frozen strawberries
1 teaspoon grated orange zest 
Strawberry Frosting (see recipe below)

Make the cupcakes:  Preheat oven to 350°F.  Spray a muffin tin with non-stick cooking spray or line with foil baking cups.
In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, and salt. Set aside dry ingredients.   In another bowl, combine the buttermilk, oil, almond and vanilla extracts; set aside. 

In an electric mixer, cream the butter and granulated sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Gradually add the buttermilk mixture. Beat for 1 minute at medium speed. 

Reduce the speed to low and add the flour mixture. Mix until just combined. Stir in the strawberries and orange zest. Spoon into prepared muffin tins, filling them two-thirds full. Bake for 18 to 20 minutes, or until cupcakes spring back when touched lightly in the center. Cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then invert the cupcakes from the pan and cool on racks. Let cool completely before frosting.

Strawberry Frosting

½ cup chopped fresh or frozen strawberries 
2 tablespoons strawberry jam
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1 8-oz. pkg. cream cheese, softened 
1 ½  cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
4 cups confectioners' sugar, sifted

In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine the strawberries, jam, and lemon juice. Cook and stir for 5 minutes, or until the jam is melted and the strawberries are soft. Press any big pieces with the back of a spoon to mash. Let cool to room temperature.

In an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese and butter at medium speed until creamy. On low speed, slowly add the confectioners’ sugar and mix until combined. Add the strawberries and mix until combined.

When the cupcakes are completely cool, spread with the frosting.

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2 comments:

Jo's This and That said...

Looks wonderful! Beautiful photos Thanks for sharing the soup looks wonder too! Joann

SavoringTime in the Kitchen said...

We have to wait until June here for strawberry picking season! What delicious cupcakes full of sweet, strawberry flavor!