Strawberry rhubarb cupcakes

My coworkers are awesome.  Really.  Due to the nature of our business, whenever we get a “job”-that is- something that needs to be fabricated, the customer wanted it yesterday.  Since the majority of my coworkers are the ones that fabricate the devices, and I’m the point of contact with the customer, them busting their butts and being good at their jobs makes me doing mine easier. Since the kitchen has been torn apart for the last couple months, I haven’t been able to show my appreciation my usual way, by bringing baked goods. Now that the kitchen is back together for the next month or so (the tile project has been put on hold for reasons not pertinent to this post), I was able to bake them cupcakes! When I left the house I was planning on peach cupcakes with dulce de leche buttercream.  When I stopped to get gas, I was considering chocolate cupcakes with strawberry frosting.  When I finally made it to the grocery store, I realized that I obviously needed to be making strawberry rhubarb cupcakes.  So I got my ingredients and got to it.

Chopping up strawberries and rhubarb

I have this love/hate relationship with The Cake Bible.  It’s a magnificent reference book.  But Rose’s butter cakes are not the type that I enjoy.  Using her recipes I don’t get the kind of dense chewy crumb that I have grown to like.  After lots of trying other recipes, I finally realized (with a bit of a nudge from my father in law) that the main difference is the flour.  Rose uses cake flour.  The dense magical recipes that I’ve come to love use all-purpose.  This additional gluten makes the difference.  Additionally, I’ve determined that I much prefer egg whites to be separated from the yolks and whisked to stiff peaks.  So there you go.  I took Rose’s Vanilla Layer Cake recipe and adapted the heck out of it.  It’s hardly recognizable.  I added egg whites, changed the flour, added fruit, and totally changed the assembly method.  It was magnificent.

Chopping up strawberries and rhubarb

Vanilla Layer Cake/Cupcakes
(adapted from Rose Levy Beranbaum’s All Occasion Down Yellow Butter Cake)

3 egg whites(120g)
1/4 c sugar (50g)

*Whisk egg whites until they reach soft peaks.  Add 1/4 c sugar and whisk until they reach stiff peaks.  Set aside.

Recipe testing for strawberry rhubarb cupcakes

3 egg yolks (50g)
1/4 c milk (61g)
2 tsp vanilla (9g)

*Mix yolks with milk and vanilla.  Set aside.

1.5-2 c rhubarb, chopped into small pieces
1.5-2 c strawberries, chopped into small pieces
1/4 c sugar (50g)

*Mix sugar with fruit, set aside

Strawberry rhubarb cupcake batter

3 cups sifted flour (300 g) I used 1/2 AP and 1/2 Cake.  I’d imagine that you could use all AP and be great.
1.5 c sugar (300 g)
1T + 1t baking powder (19.5g)
3/4 tsp salt (5 g)

*Mix dry ingredients in bowl of stand mixer with paddle attachment.

12 T unsalted butter (170g), softened
3/4 c milk (181.5g)

*Add butter and milk.  Mix on low until moistened, then increase speed to medium and beat 1-1.5 minutes to aerate and develop the gluten in the flour.  Scrape down the sides and gradually add the egg yolk mixture in 3 batches, beating for 20 seconds after each addition.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl, and fold in the egg white mixture until well-combined.  Then fold in the fruit mixture.

*Line cupcake pans with papers, and fill 1/2-2/3 full.  Bake @ 350º,  for 26 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean, turning halfway through.

Cool on a wire rack, then frost.

Whipped butter

Strawberry Mousseline Buttercream
(adapted from RLB’s Mousseline Buttercream)

1.5 c unsalted butter, softened but cool (65 degrees)

*Beat butter with whisk or paddle attachment of stand mixer until softened and sligthly fluffy

3/4 c sugar
1/4 c water

*Bring to a boil and then turn off heat

Strawberry rhubarb cupcakes

5 large egg whites
.5 + .25 tsp cream of tartar
.25 c sugar

*In very clean bowl of stand mixer, whisk egg whites until foamy.  Add cream of tartar and whisk until soft peaks are attained.  Add in sugar gradually and beat until stiff peaks form.

*Bring sugar syrup mixture back up to a boil and cook until 248º.  When syrup reaches this temperature, quickly bring pan over to egg white mixture and add it in small batches, being sure to avoid the whisk. Incorporate thoroughly.

*Continue beating on medium speed until the mixture cools to about 70 degrees.  This takes a long time in my kitchen, even though my house is cold.  YMMV.

*When the mixture has cooled, start adding in your butter, 1 tablespoon at a time, allowing to incorporate fully before adding in additional butter.  The mixture will thin before it starts to thicken.  About 3/4 of the way into adding the butter mixture, I usually experience curdling.  This is normal.  Do not panic.  Simply stopp adding butter, and increase the speed a notch or two.  Allow to mix until it comes back together.  It will.  Breathe a sigh of relief and continue adding your butter.  Once all of the butter is added, you can work on your strawberry flavoring.

Strawberry Mousseline Buttercream

I used 3-4 large frozen strawberries.  I put them in a 4 cup pyrex measuring cup and microwaved them until they melted.  Then I smashed them to hell with a fork.  Then I microwaved them even more until all of the liquid boiled off and I was left with strawberry solids and a thick syrup.  Then I put it in the freezer to cool down for a while, and once cool to the touch, added it to my buttercream.  A touch of red food coloring to help cover the unappetizing flesh tone that the strawberries gave the frosting, and you’re in business.  Then it’s just a matter of putting the frosting into a piping bag (or gallon ziploc with the corner cut off) fitted with a 1M star tip, and icing the puppies.

Strawberry Rhubarb Cupcake

My homegirl Victoria Elizabeth Barnes is hosting a Made With Love linkup this week, and I definitely made these bad boys with love.

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