The Great British Bakeoff returns tonight! It’s one of my favourite TV shows, and I love watching it every year. Despite our very shoddy summer, I have been doing some summer inspired baking. After seeing Cupcake Jemma whip up a batch of strawberries and cream cupcakes on FoodTube, I was inspired to make these babies last week:
I followed her original recipe pretty closely, so I can’t take any credit for that. The only difference was that I used her recipe for Swiss Meringue Buttercream instead of normal buttercream. I decided to add a little bit of meringue, since I was making meringue anyway for the buttercream.
Don’t they look adorable? Like little meringue berets! Mr. Cooksalot declared them a winner, although he would have liked more meringue I think. Next time I made them I made the meringues much wider. But he insisted I should fill them with the strawberry buttercream marbled icing as well, so there’s still work to be done! But flavour wise they were amazing! The “strawberry goo” is divine, so full of fresh strawberry flavour. And the Swiss Meringue Buttercream works so well instead of ordinary buttercream (not that there’s anything wrong with that!).
We ate as many as we could the first night, but I managed to share them as well and they got a bit thumbs up from everyone else who tried them. I imagine you could make a pretty spectacular layer cake with it as well! In fact that will have to be my next version…
125g soft unsalted butter
125g caster sugar or vanilla sugar
2 large organic eggs
125g self raisining flour
2 tbsp milk
1 tsp vanilla extract if not using vanilla sugar
For the strawberry goo:
1 punnet fresh strawberries
2 tbsp caster sugar
This is a tip I picked up online. If you can’t get organic strawberries, you can soak any fruit or vegetables in a bowl of water with one capful of organic apple cider vinegar for 5 or 10 minutes, and apparently it will wash off a lot of the pesticides.
For the swiss meringue buttercream:
2 large eggs whites
150g caster sugar
200g soft unsalted butter
1 tsp vanilla extract
Note: Don’t worry about the raw egg whites, as once the mixture has heated enough to melt the sugar crystals, the egg has been cooked and is safe to eat. But if you’re still worried, by all means use pasteurised egg whites, which are widely available in most larger supermarkets now.
I think it makes a huge difference if you use fresh farm eggs from an organic farm, if you’re lucky enough to live near a farmer’s market then do try them. My local one sells the most delicious, richest eggs that have the deepest orange yolks and the flavour is amazing! I also try to always use organic flour. I keep a jar of caster sugar with old vanilla bean pods that infuse it with tons of vanilla flavour. If it’s been left long enough to infuse you won’t even need to add vanilla extract.
If I could find Irish organic butter, I’d use that too, but sadly it’s very hard to find. I might have to try making my own soon!
Preheat the oven to 180C. Line a muffin or cupcake tin with cupcake cases.
First make your strawberry goo. Blend the strawberries in a jug blender or food processor until smooth.
In a small stainless steel saucepan, heat the blended strawberries with the sugar and let it come up to a simmer.
Turn the heat down low and leave to cook for 20 minutes.
Remove from the heat and allow to cool to room temperature.
In a large bowl, beat the butter for a few minutes until really soft and fluffy, then add the sugar and continue beating until pale and creamy.
If you’re using an electric mixer, this will take about 5 minutes.
Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each one, until you have a really light, creamy batter.
Add the vanilla at this point too if you’re not using vanilla sugar.
Add the flour, a spoonful at a time and fold in using a large metal spoon.
Add the milk in too at this point, and beat the batter gently until you have a light, fluffy cake batter.
Don’t over beat the batter at this stage or you will knock the air out and the cakes won’t rise properly.
Spoon two large spoonfuls (about half the mixture) of the cooled strawberry goo into the cake batter and fold in very gently.
You just want to barely combine the two mixtures to create a lovely marbled effect.
Using two spoons, spoon tablespoonfuls of the batter into each cupcake case.
Bake on the middle rack of the oven for 18 – 20 minutes, or until golden brown. Test if they’re done by inserting a toothpick or skewer into the centre. It should come out clean.
Leave to cool on a wire rack.
In the meantime, make the Swiss Meringue Buttercream:
In a clean heatproof bowl (it’s worth wiping it out with a bit of kitchen towel dipped in vinegar) combine the egg whites and the caster sugar.
Place the bowl over a pan of simmering water, making sure not to let the bottom of the bowl touch the water. Over medium low heat. Beat the sugar and whites until the sugar has dissolved. This should take about 5 minutes.
Take the bowl of the heat and using an electric mixer, whose the meringue until it has turned white and fluffy and the bowl has completely cooled – about 10 minutes. It should reach soft peak stage. To be honest, mine never reached that stage this time, and the meringue was a bit runny, but it made no difference to the final icing.
At this point, I took tiny spoonfuls of the meringue and baked it on baking parchment in a low oven for about 10 minutes at 150C. I only used about few teaspoons’ worth, so it didn’t make a difference to the buttercream.
Begin adding small pieces of butter to the meringue, continuing to whisk. It will no doubt look like it’s not going to work and may even go stringy or plastic at some point, but keep going…
It will eventually turn into the lightest, creamiest buttercream ever! Once all the butter has been added, beat to make sure it’s evenly combined.
You should have a pale,silky buttercream.
Add the vanilla extract and mix well.
Fold in the remaining strawberry goo – very gently – to create another marbled effect.
Scoop this marbled buttercream into a piping bag and pipe swirls of it on each cupcake.
Top with one of the little meringues or piece of strawberry.
Serve immediately for full effect, as they will taste their best now. But they will keep in an airtight container for a few days if you can resist…
The perfect accompaniment to the Bake Off served with a lovely pot of tea! Enjoy!