As I mentioned in my last post about my second attempt at a very vanilla cake, I’ve basically just been forcing cake upon everyone I know over the past few months. Usually, I do most of my baking with Ben, in Philadelphia. His apartment is a lot bigger than mine, here in Boston, and so I keep most of my baking stuff there, except for a small storage box that fits under my bedside table and my trusty kitchen aid hand mixer. This weekend, I decided it was time to take on the task of baking in my cozy, but tiny, studio apartment – especially because I’ve been really dying to try a new cupcake recipe I found on Sally’s Baking Addiction! I realized that a cake would probably be too ambitious, given that I don’t even have a full sized oven – but cupcakes seemed just ambitious enough.
This weekend, I made Sally’s Strawberry cupcakes – with real chunks of fresh strawberries in them! In my post about Jane’s strawberry birthday cake, I mentioned how much we love Baked & Wired’s strawberry cupcakes with chunks of real strawberries in them, so as soon as I saw this recipe I knew it was the next one I had to try. I’ve also been a HUGE fan of Sally’s Baking Addiction for many years, now and have come back to Sally’s trusty recipes on more than a few occassions. I made just over a dozen cupcakes and frosted them with Sally’s vanilla buttercream icing – an American buttercream recipe that was slightly different than Tara’s American buttercream recipe that I made last week! My choice of vanilla buttercream over the recommended strawberry buttercream was less of a flavor preference, and more that I wanted to start with the basics – vanilla – before delving into something more complex.
Let me tell you, these strawberry cupcakes are so fun and the strawberries are the real deal. A lot of times, when you bake with real fruit, the moisture from the fruit really moistens things up – sometimes a little too much. Sometimes you end up with a mushy piece of fruit surrounded by a squishy pocket of cake. Other times, your fruit just sinks all the way to the bottom and then falls out when you try to remove the cupcakes from the tin. This was neither of those. The strawberry pieces were small enough that they didn’t sink to the bottom or create the dreaded pocket of mush. I know what you’re thinking – if there were just little pieces of strawberry, how strawberry did this really taste? The recipe uses a small amount of homemade strawberry puree in the batter to double down on the commitment to the strawberry flavor. I didn’t want an overwhelmingly strawberry cake flavor, so for me, this was great. The result was a vanilla cake with a hint of strawberry, complimented nicely by the taste and flavor of fresh strawberry pieces.
Overall Pros & Cons:
Pros: real strawberry taste, great balance of strawberry and vanilla cake, real strawberry pieces
Cons: a bit dry and crumbly, with almost a banana bread taste
Taste Test: B+
Like I said, this cake was exactly what I was going for, flavor-wise. Not a straight-up strawberry cake, but a distinctly strawberry experience. The texture of the cupcakes left something to be desired, though. The cupcakes came out a little more crumbly and dry than I wanted – though honestly, that may just have been my error. Like I said, I’m not used to baking in my oven here, so there’s a large chance that I left the cupcakes in a little too long for my oven. I would definitely try this again at Ben’s, and in a cake form to attempt to get a fluffier cake.
Decoration Test: A+
I’ll come right out and say it – cupcakes are WAY easier to decorate than a cake. Either way, however, Sally’s vanilla buttercream icing really delivered. It’s soft but pipes beautifully. I piped decorations on my cupcakes (as you can see I kept it pretty simple, though, because my piping tips here are a bit small for frosting cupcakes and are meant more for decorating trims on cakes) and the decorations kept their shape beautifully. I think I prefer Tara’s vanilla buttercream over Sally’s, because I’m personally partial to a more buttery and less sweet buttercream, but Ben liked Sally’s more, so I think it depends more on what your personal tastes are when it comes to a sugary buttercream!
Batch Test: B+
I only made one of these, so I can’t speak to how it was to actually make in bigger batches. But what I can say, is that the measurements were super easy. The recipe makes enough for just over a dozen cupcakes, so I have to assume I would need to double it to make a cake, however. The recipe uses a mix of egg yolk and (mostly) egg whites, but doesn’t use a horrifyingly excessive amount of egg whites which was nice because it made me feel less like I was being horribly wasteful. I think that more egg whites may have made it a bit fluffier though, which it did lack.
Overall Score: B+
For a fun and easy, but also unique, batch of cupcakes, this was perfect. I will definitely come back to this recipe for any and all pot lucks, friend dinners, and birthday celebrations. I think it also has a ton of potential though, if I can iron out some of the texture things (which, as I mentioned, may have been completely human error and not the recipe at all), I would definitely consider this for the cake!
One more quick note… For the first time, this week, adinatakesthecake has gotten over 150 views which is SUPER exciting! I’m mostly doing this to document my own fun and keep track of my own notes as I figure out this whole cake search challenge, but nonetheless, it’s really exciting! Already, I’ve had people like Tara, from Smells Like Home comment on my post and suggest recipes and modifications to recipes to make the cakes even better. If anyone reading this has any suggestions for me… throw them at me because I’m always looking for the next recipe to try!