Ahhh, summer, our favorite season. Summer is the wonderful time of year when we attempt to wear white clothing again, only to inevitably stain our outfits with strawberry juice because we just can’t help ourselves. In Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night, or What You Will, Duke Orsino of Illyria muses that music might be the food of love; while it is a pretty sentiment, we’d like to make a case for the sweet, cordiform strawberry.
The strawberry is the quintessential summer fruit—delicious, easy to prepare, requires little adornment, if any at all. Strawberries can be anything from a garnish to an entire meal by themselves, if you eat enough of them, that is. The possibilities for strawberries are as endless as we wish summer days would be, and one of our favorite ways to eat strawberries (besides straight out of the box when no one is looking) is to make strawberry cupcakes. Or as we at Brunch with Bear like to say, straw-Bear-y cupcakes!
The ingredients for the cupcakes are as follows:
1 ¾ cup all-purpose flour
1 cup granulated sugar, plus 3 tbsp for the strawberries
1 tsp baking soda
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
½ cup vegetable oil
1 cup fresh strawberries (to crushed and mixed with 3 tbsp granulated sugar)
Sift all the dry ingredients—flour, baking soda, sugar—together in a large mixing bowl and set aside, leaving off 3 tablespoons of sugar for the strawberries.
Crush the strawberries with the 3 tablespoons of sugar in a blender, until the mixture is a chunky puree.
Mix the wet ingredients—eggs, extract, oil—well in a separate mixing bowl and stir in the crushed strawberry mixture.
Slowly fold the wet mixture into the dry mixture and beat until the batter is smooth.
Preheat the oven to 350ºF, and prepare 12-20 baking cups, depending on how large you want the cupcakes to be.
While the oven is warming, evenly distribute the batter into the baking cups.
Bake the cupcakes for 25-30 minutes, or until they are “springy,” and a toothpick comes out clean. The cupcakes will be a lovely rosy pink color.
The strawberry cupcakes go well with a classic lemon buttercream, a combination reminiscent of a refreshing glass of our favorite strawberry lemonade and perfect for a backyard summer barbecue. Simply mix a stick of your favorite non-dairy butter replacement and a few cups of confectioner’s sugar and a couple teaspoons of lemon juice.
On the other hand, if you’re going for flair, as we did for one friend’s birthday, a bright Barbie pink frosting is the very definition of fun!
As summer begins to sparkle on the horizon, dining al fresco becomes the normal for summer potlucks. Put those overripe strawberries to use and offer to bring a simple and delicious cupcake platter, all dairy-and-peanut-free! After all, nothing makes summer sweet like a nice cup(cake) full of strawberries!