…Or, Happy Birthday, Adam!
Yesterday was my dear husband’s 29th birthday. Unfortunately this date happened to fall on what was scheduled to be the longest workday ever for him, as a few tight deadlines were imposed that couldn’t be changed. He was pretty bummed. Normally we make a pretty big point of celebrating our birthdays, and like to do special things, but Adam’s proposed schedule of 8:30am until 10 or 11pm at night meant there wasn’t a whole lot we could do.
So, I schemed a bit. I gathered a few things and sent him to work with a “Survival Kit” which included a ton of candy, some pretzels, a Pac-Man energy drink, a funny card from me, and one from the cats. That was my way of trying to make his birthday a little sweeter, or so he thought.
I schemed further by emailing one of his co-workers about a week ago – first hoping I could steal him away for lunch, which wasn’t doable because they’d be too busy – and ended up planning a surprise drop-in with some treats. I dropped in just before 4 p.m., and his boss had scheduled an “important meeting” to lure him into the meeting room. I think I surprised him pretty well – he certainly didn’t look like he was expecting anything more than a meeting!
Onto the important point of this post: Strawberry Shortcake Cupcakes. So so tasty. Light and fluffy cake base, and adding jam to a buttercream frosting? GENIUS! I had hoped to make them a bit fancier by adding some jam into the cake part (I’d seen the idea on someone else’s blog – I don’t remember whose), and by decorating the tops a bit more with sliced strawberries, but an unexpectedly crazy morning meant that wasn’t possible. The good news is, the cupcakes were just fine without the dressing up.
Recipe – adapted (slightly) from foodandwine.com:
- 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour, sifted
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch
- 1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 3/4 cup granulated sugar
- 2 large eggs, at room temperature (get them safely to room temperature by resting them in warm water for about 10 minutes)
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract (I upped this from the 1-1/4 recommendation – I like vanilla!)
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
- 1/4 cup vegetable oil
- 1/2 cup milk, at room temperature
FROSTING (I upped the quantity a bit from what the recipe called for, and was still a bit short):
- 8 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
- 2-1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
- 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- Pinch of salt
- 2 tablespoons heavy cream
- Strawberry jam – to taste – I used about 3 tablespoons
- Preheat the oven to 350°. Line a 12-cup muffin tin with paper or foil liners.
- In a medium bowl, sift together the flour with the cornstarch, baking powder and salt. Stir a bit more to combine thoroughly.
- Beat the sugar with the eggs and vanilla extract with an electric mixer at medium-high speed until smooth and thickened slightly, about 3 minutes. Make sure you get it nice and thick. Add the butter and oil and beat until incorporated, scraping the bottom and side of the bowl. Add the dry ingredients and milk in 3 alternating batches, beating well between additions. Carefully pour the batter into the lined muffin tins, filling them about two-thirds full. This is key – don’t overfill them if you want to frost them nicely!
- Bake in the center of the oven for 20 to 23 minutes (only took 20 for me), until springy and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool slightly in the muffin tin, then transfer them to a wire rack to cool completely.
- Beat the softened butter at medium speed until smooth. Add the confectioners’ sugar, vanilla extract and salt and beat the mixture at low speed just until combined (If you don’t start low, it will blow powdered sugar everywhere… you may even want to mix slightly with a spatula before using an electric mixer). Increase the mixer speed to medium and beat until smooth. Add the milk or heavy cream and beat until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.
- Mix the frosting with strawberry jam. Spread the frosting on the cooled cupcakes and serve.
I’m definitely making these again- though I’m tempted to try with different flavours of frosting. I wonder how it would taste with some blueberry jam mixed in? I also think it would be good with strawberry chunks baked right into the cake batter. Yum yum yum.
Also? Adam ended up getting off of work by about 9:30pm, so not so terrible. We managed to make it out for a late night drink and still watch some Thursday night TV. Hopefully next year (the big 3-0!) won’t be quite so work-filled, but at least his 29th wasn’t as bad as he’d initially feared. And we still have some celebrating ahead of us with a big family dinner on Saturday night.