Is it strawberry season yet where you are? Here in Vancouver, we're still getting California strawberries, even though it's basically mid-May! I'm hoping to see local ones in the market sometime soon, but in the meantime, I can still get super awesome and fresh strawberry flavour without waiting!
I've used freeze-dried powders quite a few times before (these strawberry passion fruit macarons, this raspberry swirl brioche, these raspberry marshmallow eggs, and these lemon raspberry macarons) and I always love the flavour they give. It's tough to flavour a buttercream without adding too much liquid, but with the fruit powders, you get a crazy amount of flavour in a fine powder, which is perfect for adding to buttercreams.
The other great thing about freeze-dried fruit powders? It's just fruit. Nothing else! It really is just fruit that has been freeze-dried and ground into a powder. This creates an intensely flavoured powder with nothing extra to get in the way and no crazy ass ingredients to worry about.
Note: this is the brand of freeze-dried fruit powder that I use.
Strawberry Lime Cupcakes
Recipe adapted from Dahlia Bakery Cookbook
215 g cake flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
135 g buttermilk, at room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
127 g unsalted butter, at room temperature
300 g granulated sugar
3 limes, zested
50 g eggs
40 g egg yolks
Strawberry French Buttercream
Recipe adapted from Bouchon Bakery
38 g granulated sugar
38 g granulated sugar
63 g egg yolks
75 g whole milk
250 g unsalted butter, cut into 1/2 inch pieces, at room temperature
20 g freeze-dried strawberry powder
For the cupcakes, preheat the oven to 375 F. Line a muffin pan with paper lines and set aside.
In a bowl, sift the flour, baking powder, and baking soda. Add the salt and set aside.
In a small bowl, combine the buttermilk and vanilla extract and set aside.
Combine the butter and sugar in an electric mixer fitted with the paddle and cream on medium-high speed until pale, light, and fluffy, about 4 minutes, scraping down the bowl and the paddle as needed. Add the lime zest and beat to incorporate.
Add the whole egg while beating on medium speed, then turn the mixer to medium-high and beat for 30 seconds. Scrape down the bowl and paddle. Beat the batter on medium-high for 15 seconds. The batter should look very smooth. Add the yolks on medium speed, then turn the mixer to medium-high and beat for 20 seconds. The batter should be shiny and glossy. Scrape down the bowl and the paddle. It's important to scrape down the bowl and paddle thoroughly so that you can work the dry ingredients as quickly as possible without a lot of scraping the bowl.
Remove the bowl from the mixer and, folding by hand using a rubber spatula, add the dry ingredients in 4 additions alternately with the vanilla-buttermilk mixture in 3 additions, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients. Work quickly and gently to fold everything together.
Scoop the batter into the paper-lined muffin cups, dividing the batter evenly among the wells on the pan.
Place the muffin pan in the oven and bake until the cupcakes are lightly browned, slightly domed, and cooked through, 20 to 25 minutes. For the best rise, don't open the door for the first 20 minutes, after which you can open the oven door and check the cupcakes to see if they need more time. A wooden skewer inserted into a cupcake should come out with a few crumbs clinging but no batter. Remove the muffin pan from the oven and cool on a wire rack for about 10 minutes before unmolding. Cool to room temperature.
Make the buttercream. If you wish, the buttercream can be made in advance and stored in the fridge for up to 5 days. Take the buttercream out of the fridge thirty minutes before you need to use it and place it in the bowl of a stand mixer. Allow it to soften and then mix on low speed until it is the proper consistency.
Whisk 38 grams sugar and the yolks together in a medium bowl and set aside.
Combine the milk and remaining 38 grams of sugar in a medium saucepan, set over
medium heat, and stir to dissolve the sugar. When the milk is just below a simmer, remove
the pan from the heat and, whisking constantly, pour it into the egg mixture. Return the mixture to the pan and place over medium heat. Whisking constantly, bring to a gentle simmer and simmer for 1 minute, lowering the heat if necessary to prevent the mixture from curdling. It should be very thick.
Strain the mixture through a fine-mesh strainer into the bowl of a stand mixer. fit the mixer with a whisk attachment, turn the mixture to medium, and whisk for about 8 minutes, until the mixture is completely cool.
Add the butter, a few pieces at a time, to the egg yolk mixture. If at any point the mixture looks broken, increase the speed to re-emulsify it, then reduce the speed and continue adding the butter. Check the consistency: if the buttercream is too loose to hod its shape, it should be refrigerated for a few hours to harden, then beaten again to return it to the proper consistency.
Add the strawberry powder and fold in by hand until completely combined.
Transfer to a piping bag fitted with a closed star tip. Starting from the inside, pipe a spiral to the edges of the cupcake. Repeat with all the cupcakes.