Strawberry Cheesecake Cupcakes

My recent forays into the the baking world have been verging on neglectful, to say the least, recently. This is due to the fact that I’ve been attempting an overhaul on my eating in general, and baking doesn’t lend itself very well to being healthy! However, no matter how healthy I try to be, I really do love baking and sooner or later I get that itch to delve into one of my many (and I mean many) baking books and make something new.

As you can imagine, having a lot of freshly baked treats around the house is nothing short of dangerous when you’re trying to be good. I’ve tried to combat this in a number of ways, like making other people’s preferences so I’m less tempted to indulge, making half recipes and getting David to take whatever I make to work.

You’ll notice I haven’t mentioned doing ‘healthier’ baking. I’m sure there are some great recipes out there, but I’ve found that option just isn’t for me. I’d much rather eat a smaller slice of what I really want, than a larger piece of something mediocre.

But anyway, back to todays baking! A few weeks ago my friend Steff was having a birthday BBQ, so I immediately got onto the task of what desserts to take! Having just discovered the scrumptious brownies, they were a no brainer, and I decided to make some Strawberry Cheesecake Cupcakes. These cupcakes are without a doubt, the best cupcakes featured in The Hummingbird Bakery book. They feature a fresh strawberry layer and so I’d been waiting what seems like forever for strawberries to come into season again! The cream cheese icing compliments the sweetness of the strawberries brilliantly and makes for a real winner of a cupcake. Enjoy!

Strawberry Cheesecake Cupcakes

adapted from The Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook 

You will need:

Cupcake (Makes 16-18):

  • 240g plain flour
  • 280g caster sugar
  • 3 tsp baking powder
  • a pinch of salt
  • 80g unsalted butter/margarine
  • 240ml milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs
  • 24 large strawberries, sliced
Icing (adapted from Annie’s Eats):
  • 200g cream cheese
  • 70g unsalted butter (room temperature)
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 310g icing sugar
  • Digestive biscuits (Optional)

1. Starting with the cupcakes, preheat your oven to 170°C. In a bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and butter/margarine. I usually refuse to use margarine in baking, but in cupcakes I find you can barely notice the difference, especially when using lots of butter in the icing later! Your mixture should look quite sandy when all combined.

2. Add the milk and vanilla and mix together until fully combined with no lumps. Add the egg and beat until incorporated into the batter.

3. Prepare your cupcake cases in your pan and divide the strawberries between them. Spoon/pour your mixture over the top of the strawberries, until your cases are around 2/3rds full. Place in the oven for 20-25 mins, until golden and a skewer or toothpick comes out clean when inserted. Leave the cupcakes to cool completely on a wire rack before adding the icing.

4. For the icing, try and use an electric whisk or a stand mixer if you have them. I’ve done this by hand before, and although it tastes great still, I find it doesn’t quite get whipped enough to hold its shape when piping. This is quite a soft icing, so if you think it won’t hold its shape, put it in the fridge for a while to firm up.

Ok, first, combine the cream cheese and butter until completely combined.  Mix in vanilla extract.

5. Add in the icing sugar in batches until you’ve put it all in. Give it a good blitz with the electric whisk. If you want to chill it, you can put it in the fridge now. You can use the icing in any way you like, I chose to frost them using Lakelands giant piping nozzles  and topped them with some wafer daisies bought from Sainsburys. The Hummingbird Bakery suggests using digestive crumbs as sprinkles across the top, which looks great, but when I’ve done it in the past I found it doesn’t add much taste-wise as theres too much else going on.

And there you have it! Strawberry Cheesecake Cupcakes. Scrummy.

Jaffa Cake Cupcakes

Yes, this was my idea I had at 3am Saturday morning. And even though it is the weekend and I had all the time in the world, I STILL didn’t make them in time to take photos in natural light. I’m beginning to think I shouldn’t be trusted with a camera! At least we’re on our way into Summer now though, so it can only get lighter from here!

I’ve always been a Jaffa Cake lover and so when the idea for these cakes popped into my head there was no way I wasn’t going to make them. My only problem then was deciding exactly how I would do them, should I do an orange sponge, or a chocolate orange sponge? Should I put orange jelly in them? Should I do orange buttercream or chocolate orange buttercream? Should I melt chocolate on top?

So after much dithering I finally got on with it and was filling our house with the smell of oranges. Lovely.

Jaffa Cake Cupcakes

I didn’t have an actual recipe so started off with the vanilla cupcake recipe from The Hummingbird Bakery and changed it a bit!

You will need:

  • 240g Plain Flour
  • 180g Caster Sugar
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • a pinch of salt
  • 80g butter or marg
  • 240ml milk (THB says to use whole milk, but I never have that around and semi skimmed has always worked fine!)
  • 2 eggs
  • Zest of a large orange
  • 2 tbsp freshly squeezed orange juice

I got about 12 cupcakes out of these ingredients, but you could probably get more if you’re looking for a smaller cupcake.

You will also need:

  • Jaffa cakes (the same number as the amount of cupcakes you have)

And for the icing:

  • 250g Icing Sugar
  • 125g butter
  • 30g Plain Chocolate (I think I used a bit more than this as my scales haven’t arrived yet but I liked it like that. More chocolate is never bad)
  • Zest of half an orange
  • 1 tbsp freshly squeezed orange juice

1. Put the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and butter in a bowl and mix together until it is all combined and has a sandy texture. Pour in half the milk until just incorporated.

2. Whisk the egg, orange juice and orange zest with the remaining milk and then pour into the flour mixture. Mix this all together until it is smooth. Then you should have something that looks like this: (including the mess by the way, if you manage to keep your kitchen clean whilst baking then I applaud you.)

I’d also like to point out that the rolling pin has no place in this recipe, but David was trying out the cinnamon whirls last night and left it out.

3. This is quite a runny batter so I always pour it into a jug and pour from that straight into the ready paper cases. If you don’t have a jug then just spoon the batter into the cases, but be aware you will probably make a mess. I still made a mess when using a jug, see:

Just a side note – I use muffin paper cases and a muffin pan to make my cupcakes. British cupcake cases tend to be what I like to call fairy cake cases, are much smaller and are normally baked in bun pans. I like my cupcakes BIG.

4. Stick the pan into the oven at 170°C for 20-25 mins. Mine were done in about 23 mins, but be careful if your oven cooks unevenly, I had to give mine as spin as its a lot hotter in the back compared to the front.

5. Let the cupcakes cool completely, icing has no place on a warm cupcake (unless its going straight into your mouth) as it melts and goes funny. Grab your jaffa cakes and remove the orange jelly from the middles. You could painstakingly remove the chocolate from them as well but a little bit more chocolate never hurt anyone so I left it on. Place them on top of your cupcakes and you should have something like this:

Edit (Feb 2012): As I mentioned down in the comments, I did figure out the making of the jelly which you can do if you have a bit more time. Make up some orange jelly, using only half the amount of water stated on the packet. I also replaced some of the water for fresh orange juice. Pour the jelly mixture into a long shallow dish and place in the fridge. When set, using a circular cookie cutter the same size as your cupcakes, cut out orange jelly circles and place them on your cupcake. Be aware, the jelly is really slidy, so I would advise piping your icing on.

6. Next up, buttercream. Soften the butter and slowly add the icing sugar. I found the butter started getting quite stiff so after I had added about half of the sugar I melted the chocolate and added it to the buttercream. At the same time add in the zest and orange juice. Mix it all together and continue adding the icing sugar. Use an electric whisk to get it all light and fluffy.

7. It would be a lot easier to pipe the icing on at this point, but I’ve only got small nozzles at the moment so decided just to smear it on. Not the most attractive and I did have a few issues with the jelly circles moving, but all in all it worked ok. I did debate drizzling some melted plain chocolate over the top but ended up just decorating with orange jelly tots.

I was trying to save one of these until after my dinner, but I succumbed and gave it a try. I can quite firmly say that these were a success. The buttercream is reminiscent of terrys chocolate orange and the jelly circle gives it a nice bit of tangyness. The main improvement I would look at would be possibly putting more orange zest into the sponge, but other than that, this is a lovely, not overly rich, chocolatey orangey cake. Nom.

And so that marks the end of my weekend, and probably the end of baking until the next one!