Filled cupcakes became a big deal a few years back, but as I’ve mentioned on this blog before, my grandma Zella made filled cupcakes back in the ’80s and ’90s. Long before shows like Cupcake Wars appeared on television, Zella scooped out her cupcake centers and filled them with lemon curd, pudding, and pie fillings. I think this strawberry vanilla cupcake would have made her proud.
If you’re using a fruit or pudding-like filling, you’ll want a sturdier cupcake so that a) the cupcake doesn’t fall apart when you take a bite and b) the filling doesn’t get too absorbed into the cake. These cupcakes are on the drier side, more like a pound cake and able to hold the strawberry filling very well. When paired with a fresh strawberry buttercream, the flavor combination is a delightfully summery treat. I recommend making your filling first and allowing it to cool completely before you bake your cupcakes and make your frosting to save time during assembly.
- 12 ounces strawberries, pureed
- 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
- 4 teaspoons cornstarch
- 2 teaspoons water
In a medium saucepan, stir together strawberry puree, powdered sugar, cornstarch, and water. Cook over medium heat until the mixture boils, then allow it to boil for 1 minute, stirring well, until the mixture thickens.
Remove from heat and press through a fine sieve to filter out the seeds – this will take a few minutes, but is absolutely worth it. Allow to cool at room temperature before using; makes about 1 cup.
Old-Fashioned Vanilla Cupcakes
- 1/2 cup whole milk
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup plus 6 tablespoons cake flour
- 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons flour
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- Scant 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 8 tablespoons butter, cut into cubes, at room temperature
- 2 eggs, at room temperature
Preheat oven to 350. Line two cupcake pans with paper liners.
Combine milk and vanilla extract; set aside.
In a mixing bowl, combine cake flour, flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Beat on medium speed for 2 minutes, then reduce mixer speed to low and add butter a few cubes at a time. Continue to beat for about 2 minutes, until the mixture looks like coarse sand.
Add eggs, one at a time, beating well between each. With the mixer running on low, slowly pour in the vanilla milk mixture.
Return to medium speed and continue to beat for 2 minutes. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl well.
Using a 2-inch cookie scoop, drop scoops of batter into prepared cupcake pans, filling about 1/2 to 2/3 full.
Bake for 20-25 minutes, until a cake tester comes out clean. Remove from pans immediately and cool completely on a wire rack before filling and frosting.
Fresh Strawberry Buttercream
- 8 tablespoons butter, at room temperature
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 to 3 cups powdered sugar
- Scant ¼ cup strawberry puree
In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter and vanilla extract on low speed until smooth and creamy, about 2 minutes.
Gradually add powdered sugar, in half-cup increments, beating until fully incorporated.
Slowly add strawberry puree, mixing until completely incorporated, about 1-2 minutes. If your mixture is too thin, slowly add more powdered sugar, about 1/4 cup at a time, until you reach a consistency that will be easy to pipe.
To assemble your cupcakes:
Use a melon baller to scoop out a small amount of cake from the center of each cupcake.
Using a pastry bag fitted with a large plain tip, pipe strawberry filling into each cupcake.
Fit a large pastry bag with a Wilton M1 tip and pipe generous swirls of frosting onto the top of each cupcake. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 days, but bring to room temperature before serving.
Makes 24 cupcakes.