Birds were chirping, the sun was shining, it had (almost) stopped snowing in Moscow completely. And strawberries were in season and being sold everywhere! One of the things I love about the new place where I’m living is that there is an outdoor market (called a rhinok) around the corner from my new house that is set up on the weekends. I can go there and buy all sorts of great fresh fruit and vegetables that is of MUCH higher quality than can be found at the supermarket by my house. So – yay for the rhinok, and yay for the rhinok’s inspiration for me to make strawberry cupcakes. These were amazing – especially with the cream cheese frosting!
Adapted from Paula Deen’s Hummingbird Cake
3 cups self-rising flour* (See note #1 below)
2 cups granulated sugar
3/4 cup vegetable oil
1 1/2 cup pureed strawberries* (See note #2 below)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon lemon zest
4 large eggs, beaten
red food coloring
– Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line muffin pans with paper muffin cups.
– In a large bowl, stir to combine self-rising flour, sugar, oil, pureed strawberries, vanilla, lemon zest, and eggs.
Note #1: They don’t sell “self-rising flour” in Russia and so I had to do a little internet research to figure out what that was. If you don’t have self-rising flour on hand – its really easy to make yourself. 1 C. Self-Rising flour is equal to 1 C. All-Purpose flour, plus 1 1/2 tsp. baking powder and 1/2 tsp. salt. I really have no idea why they sell self-rising flour in America. It only shaves off about 15 seconds in the preparation time of the recipe! 🙂
Note #2: To make strawberry puree: Cut up about 2 C. of strawberries (2 C. because the volume will get somewhat smaller when its pureed) Toss the 2 C. cut up strawberries with about 2 tsp. of sugar and let the mixture sit at room temp. for a couple hours. Puree with a blender or food processor.
-Add in enough red food coloring to the batter to get a bright strawberry color – as desired. The cupcake batter will already be somewhat pink due to the strawberry puree. But the red food coloring gives it that extra something special.
– Divide batter evenly between muffin cups. I filled my cups about 3/4 full because I like big cupcakes! Bake, until the tops spring back when gently pressed with your fingertips, about 25 minutes.
– Cool in pan about 10 minutes, then remove them from the pan to let them cool completely.
– Prepare the cream cheese frosting (recipe below).
Cream Cheese Frosting
1 8oz package of cream cheese, softened
8 TBS. of butter, softened
1 tsp. vanilla
~ 3 cups powdered sugar
1 TBL milk (if needed)
Note #3 – This cream cheese frosting was really tasty but it made a LOT of frosting. I might half this recipe if I were you. Or just freeze what you don’t use to use on something else another day!
– Beat cream cheese and butter together until smooth.
– Slowly add the sugar in 1 cup batches until desired sweetness is achieved. You may need less than 3 cups if you like your frosting less sweet.
– Stir in vanilla. Add milk slowly if you need a looser consistency.