Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Flavours Column: Strawberry Cupcakes

Hi again. Weekly far so good (two weeks in). Along with the recipe published in the newspaper I'm also going to give you a little insight into the writing process and my overall experiences as a 'columnist' (I feel that title oversells my talent but that's what it is isn't it? A column. Can I please use that title? That would be cool. Thanks).

My second column was published today. This week's learning: don't send revised content in late and expect it to be published. My past experiences buying and placing media in newspapers and pushing deadlines to the max did not come in handy here. What happened? Well, the first two columns published were actually written last year when the new lift out was in development. So, typically reactive 'in the moment' me wrote about strawberries as it was the start of summer and I had strawberries on my mind. This is me with strawberries on my mind and in my hand. This was an AMAZING strawberry.

Anyway, so come March and publication date, it's now Autumn and fresh strawberries are no longer available. Meaning, my content is slightly irrelevant. Not ideal. But, lesson learnt. The newspaper did well to edit my original content - I still wish I'd been able to sneak my revised version through though. Luckily I have a blog where I am editor in chief and can do as I please! Muaaahahaa! So, following is what I hoped was going to be published but alas, wasn't quite. It's not that far from what was published, it's just a little more relevant for non-strawberry season. 

Going forward I'll think about the content and when it's going to be published AHEAD of deadline. Whoopsies.

Sweet taste of Summer (well the end of...)

Summer might officially be coming to an end but that doesn’t mean we have to farewell all the beautiful flavours of the season – including that quintessential summer favourite, the strawberry.

Strawberries are a fairytale fruit and as such can have magical romantic powers or disappointing heartbreaking twists. By this, I mean that the perfect strawberry is hard to find. This summer the first strawberry I had was the PERFECT strawberry. Bright red, heart shaped, intensely flavoured, sweet and juicy. It was a great way to start the season.

This week’s recipe is about celebrating the flavour of strawberries in cake form. If you’re lucky you’ll be able to find fresh berries still available but for the rest of us, frozen ones (which can be found in your local supermarket) do just as well. These cupcakes are light, fluffy and delicately flavoured. Perfect for sharing with friends along with a glass of bubbles (I speak from experience) while you enjoy what’s left of this amazing summer we’ve had.

Strawberry Cupcakes
2/3 cup fresh strawberries
185g plain flour
1tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 cup milk
1 tsp Heilala Vanilla Extract
115g unsalted butter, room temperature
185g sugar
2 large eggs

Preheat oven to 175°C and prepare a 12-cup tray with liners.

Puree the strawberries in a food processor to make 1/3 cup of puree – add more strawberries if needed, saving any excess for the frosting.

Whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt in one bowl and the milk, vanilla and strawberry puree together in another bowl; set both aside.

Cream the butter until light and fluffy then gradually add the sugar and beat until well combined and pale in colour. Reduce the mixer speed and add eggs one at a time mixing until just blended.

Switch the mixer to low and add half the flour mixture; mix until just blended. Add the milk mixture; mix until just blended. Add the remaining flour mixture, scraping down sides of the bowl with a spatula; mix until just blended.

Divide batter evenly among prepared liners (a piping bag is great for this). Bake for 18 - 20 minutes. Cool on a wire rack.

Frost the cupcakes with a Strawberry Frosting made using a simple buttercream recipe (1 part butter to two parts icing sugar, whipped up until pale and fluffy) with 3 tablespoons of strawberry puree added. 

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