A couple of weekends ago, it was my friend Maryam’s sister-in-law’s baby shower. It was a lovely celebration with good company and lots of good food…I mean LOTS. Lunch and dinner rolled into one big, long meal as a few of us went to Maryam’s parents’ home afterwards and continued eating into the evening!
I don’t think anyone was allowed to leave without taking some leftovers home with them. I surely wasn’t complaining. I got to take back an insanely huge amount of one of my favourite Persian dishes, Kashk’e Bademjan. It’s mashed eggplant with caramelized onions and other spices and it’s so delicious! You can eat it with pita or – my personal preference – sangak, a type of Persian leavened flatbread which I can never get enough of!
I offered to make cupcakes for the baby shower. Cupcakes are so pretty and perfect for occasions like this. The theme was pink and gold, so I decided to make vanilla cupcakes with pink strawberry buttercream. I also made some fondant discs with baby-inspired designs in pink and gold pearl dust to top the cupcakes.
You can imagine, it was a pretty hectic few days leading up to the day of the baby shower! But all my hard work paid off. The cupcakes turned out nicely, even though I did a rushed job trying to finish decorating all of them in time! Taste-wise, the cupcakes were super moist and and the buttercream was full of real strawberry flavour and not over-the-top sweet.
VANILLA CUPCAKES WITH STRAWBERRY BUTTERCREAM
Cupcakes (Makes about 15 regular-sized cupcakes)
1-1/4 cups cake flour
1-1/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 large eggs, room temparature
3/4 cup sugar
1-1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup canola oil (vegetable or extra light olive oil will also work)
1/2 cup buttermilk (or plain kefir)
1. Preheat the oven to 350°F and line a cupcake/muffin pan with cupcake liners.
2. In a medium bowl, whisk together 1-1/4 cups cake flour, 1-1/4 tsp baking powder, 1/2 tsp baking soda and 1/2 tsp salt. Set flour mix aside.
3. In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat 2 eggs with the whisk attachment on medium speed (15-20 seconds).
4. Add 3/4 cup sugar and continue to beat on medium speed (30 seconds).
5. Add vanilla and oil and beat on medium speed (1 minute).
6. Reduce mixer speed to medium/low and slowly add about half of the flour mixture, mixing until incorporated. Add half of the buttermilk and mix until incorporated. Repeat with remaining flour and buttermilk. Beat until just combined and smooth, scraping down the sides of the mixing bowl as needed. The batter will be thin.
7. Pour batter into a lined muffin pan. Fill liners just over 1/2 full (do not overfill).
8. Bake for 14 -16 minutes at 350°F or until a toothpick inserted in the centre comes out clean. Let them cool in the pan for a couple minutes, then remove.
Buttercream (Makes enough to decorate 15 cupcakes)
2/3 cup fresh strawberries
1 cup butter, softened (I like to use salted, to cut down on the sweetness)
3-1/2 cups icing sugar, sifted, divided
1 Tbsp meringue powder
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 Tbsp cream
1. Place strawberries in a blender and puree until smooth. Strain to remove the seeds, if desired. Transfer strawberry puree to a saucepan over medium heat and bring to a boil, stirring often, until the puree is reduced by at least half, about 20 minutes. Remove from heat and cool completely.
2. Beat butter with an electric mixer in a bowl until light and fluffy. Beat 1 cup icing sugar and meringue powder into the butter until just blended.
3. Beat 2 tablespoons strawberry puree and vanilla extract into the butter mixture until just combined.
4. Repeat with 1 cup icing sugar, followed by another 2 tablespoons strawberry puree. Beat until just combined.
5. Add in another cup of icing sugar, and cream. Beat until just combined.
6. Beat the last 1/2 cup icing sugar into the frosting.
7. Beat frosting on high speed for at least another 5-7 minutes (the longer you beat it, the fluffier/creamier the consistency).
8. Once the vanilla cupcakes are cooled to room temperature, pipe on the frosting.
Note: If you are making the buttercream ahead of time, keep it in an airtight container and store in the fridge. When ready to use, simply take it out, let it come to a cool room temperature, then give it a good stir before using it. Buttercream can be refrigerated for up to two weeks.