This is only the second baking recipe on my blog, and yet I do bake fairly often. I love it, but in a different sort of way to cooking. I mostly bake because I want cookies. (Sometimes, I simply must have a cookie.) Or I bake cupcakes for friends or for parties, because everybody loves cupcakes.
But I don’t often bake for my blog because it can be quite hard to try out new ideas with baking.
I used to think it would be easy, when I first started this blog. I was like, “What the heck, I’ll reduce the butter in this brownie recipe and throw in some kahlua, and I can totally just do whatever and it will work”. Ha. Without wishing to destroy my credibility too much, I had some mega failures with those experiments. I had to learn the hard way that certain rules must be followed, and experimentation should be a little more structured and researched.
Today I am delighted to introduce you to an outstanding success. It stems from a tried and trusted cupcake sponge for the base, and builds new flavours on top of it. In this case, delicious fresh strawberries.
Not only do the chunks of strawberries add texture and moisture, the juices seep out into the batter a little and flavour the whole sponge.
If you’re someone who wants to experiment with baking but is afraid of the epic failures, that would be my top tip: start by making small adaptations to really trusted recipes. (But not adding alcohol. Trust me on that one.)
So I’ve adapted this vanilla cupcake recipe into a few different experiments in the past, and it always works. It is a robust enough recipe to take a little bit of deviation.
The cakes are topped with a bold dark chocolate ganache, made with coconut milk which imparts just a little bit of coconut flavour to it. This works beautifully against the moist strawberry infused sponge.
And then you top it off with a half strawberry which sets into the ganache. It looks rather striking doesn’t it!
I’ve made these a few times for our parties, and these are always the cakes people gravitate towards.
Which is why I am entering them into the Betta baking competition. The prize is £750 in vouchers, or £250 for the runner up. It would be amazing to win this, not just for the kudos to my little bloggy project, but to help kit out the Veggie HQ kitchen a little more so that I can keep the experiments coming. So… cross your fingers for me? 🙂
This recipe will make 8 big cupcakes. I made them in large muffin cases. If you use standard or small cupcake cases, you will get lots more but you should reduce the cooking time in that case.
I made this by weighing the ingredients but grabbed the weight to volume conversions for both flour and sugar from Dove’s Farm’s in case cups are your preferred way of measuring.
- 80g (2.8oz or ⅓ cup) of butter
- 280g (9.9oz or 1⅓ cups + 1 Tblsp) of caster sugar
- 240g (8.5oz or 2 cups) of flour
- 3 tsps of baking powder
- A pinch of salt
- 240ml (1 cup) of milk
- 2 eggs
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 200g (7oz) of strawberries
- 60ml (1/4 cup) of coconut milk
- 200g (7oz) of dark chocolate, broken into small chunks
- A couple drops of vanilla extract
- 1 Tblsp vegetable oil
- ½ a strawberry for each cupcake
- Pre-heat the oven to 170C / 340F
- In a large mixing bowl, beat the sugar and butter together until the butter has dispersed.
- Add the flour, salt and baking powder and continue to mix. It will form a sandy, crumbly consistency.
- Add about half of the milk and mix until a sticky dough-like consistency is formed.
- In the measuring jug, quickly whisk the remaining milk with the vanilla and eggs.
- Pour the milk/eggs mix into the bowl slowly, with the mixers running on a slow setting, until fully incorporated into the batter.
- Chop the strawberries into small chunks. Pat dry with a paper towel to remove some of the excess moisture.
- Toss the strawberries with a spoonful of flour to coat them. This helps to stop them floating to the bottom of the cupcakes.
- Add the strawberries into the batter.
- Spoon into cases in your cupcake or muffin tray. Fill them ⅔rds of the way full.
- Bake for 25 minutes, until the tops are lightly golden and springy. (20 minutes if you make smaller cupcakes)
- Leave to cool down entirely before topping with the ganache.
- In a double broiler (or two pans nested together, with boiling water in the bottom pan and the top pan held slightly above the water), melt the chocolate and coconut milk together, using a silicone spatula to scrape down the sides regularly. When it's all melted and smooth, add the vanilla and oil. The oil will help to give it a nice sheen.
- Once the cupcakes are fully cooled down, pour a couple spoonfuls of ganache atop each cake. It will be runny and will pool within the cases, but don't worry, after a few hours it will set a little bit.
- Place a half strawberry on top of each cupcake.