Strawberry frosted cupcakes
Updated: Sep 18, 2021
This recipe took longer than I anticipated to complete, and I'm so happy to be finally sharing it! I finished my month long baking and recipe development class, and the final section was cake. I decided to create a cake inspired by a strawberry frosted donut, and after the end of the course I took time to perfect the recipe for this cupcake version - and the wait was totally worth it.
I experimented with multiple ways of infusing strawberry flavor, including jam, preserves, and fresh strawberries. In the end, I loved the flavor and color that freeze dried strawberries brought to the frosting and crumb topping so that is the key strawberry ingredient in this recipe.
Just like a strawberry frosted donut, the strawberry frosting doesn't have an overpowering strawberry flavor but it provides a tart and sweet undertone to the sweetness of the cupcake. It's studded with rainbow sprinkles, and the crumb topping adds an incredible crunch. If you enjoy the crumb topping as much as I do, you can also make some extra and keep it as a sweet treat to eat on it's own or to add on top of ice cream!
The secret ingredient, aside from the freeze dried strawberries of course, is a white chocolate ganache that is incorporated into the frosting. It adds the perfect sweetness to the frosting and you wouldn't know it was there unless you made it yourself.
One thing I love especially about cupcakes is the creativity you can bring when decorating. I'll provide direction on how I decorated mine, but know that this is where you can get as creative as you'd like! I also provided a break down of carb information at the end to allow for as much customization as you'd like (think boxed cake mix, swapping out the frosting etc).
A final note before we get to the recipe: this can easily be turned into a cake if you'd like to do that instead! It has a beautiful presentation, and you'll use the same amount of cake batter, double the frosting recipe, and you'll increase the crumb recipe as well. I shared some tips on how to bake and assemble this in a cake version at the end of this post, below the carb information, in case that's more your style.
8 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup granulated sugar
4 tablespoons brown sugar
3 large eggs
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup buttermilk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/2 cup all purpose flour
Crumb ingredients (note you can also double this for extra crumb, I'll provide that direction at the bottom)
2 tablespoons + 1 1/2 teaspoon granulated sugar
3 tablespoons all purpose flour
Pinch of salt
1/2 tablespoon freeze dried strawberries
1 tablespoon + 1 1/2 teaspoon vegetable oil
10 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 1/4 cup powdered sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup freeze dried strawberries
1/4 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 tablespoons rainbow sprinkles (+ an additional tablespoon reserved for decoration)
White chocolate ganache
1/2 cup white chocolate (chopped or chips)
2 tablespoons + 1 1/5 teaspoons heavy cream
Cooking time: About two and a half hours all in, including cool time before frosting (allow for an additional hour to chill assembled cupcakes in the fridge)
Quantity: 12 cupcakes
Make your cupcake batter. Preheat your oven to 325 degrees. All of your butter for this recipe should be at room temperature so if you haven't already, remove all of your butter from the fridge that you'll need for the full recipe. If your 8 cake batter tablespoons of butter aren't yet at room temperature and you want to get started, put them in a small dish and into the microwave to soften for about 15 seconds (watch carefully as this happens quick).
In your stand mixer with the paddle attachment, add your halfway melted butter, granulated, and brown sugar. Turn your stand mixer on at a medium heat and leave on to combine for about 2 minutes.
Crack your eggs into a small container, add them into your sugar and butter mixture one at a time with your mixer on at a medium speed, adding your next egg in once your mixture is fully combined. Once all three are combined, scrape down the sides of your bowl and the paddle.
With your mixer paused, pour in your vegetable oil, and stir to combine at a medium speed. Add in your buttermilk and vanilla extract, turn your mixer back on at a low to medium speed for about a minute to fully combine. Scrape down the sides of your bowl and paddle as needed.
Add in your dry ingredients, all purpose flour, salt, and baking powder. Turn your mixer on at the lowest speed, and gradually increase the speed for about 30 seconds. Pause and scrape down the sides of your bowl. Turn your mixer back on for another 30 seconds until just combined.
Grab your cupcake tin, and add in liners if you're going to use them. Add your batter in, it should make 12 cupcakes, and they will fill just below the brim. Place your cupcakes into the oven for 24-26 minutes. Remove and set aside to cool. Clean your stand mixer bowl and paddle as you'll use it to make your frosting.
Make your crumb. Lower your oven temperature to 275 degrees. Crush one or two freeze dried strawberries to a powdered state either in a plastic bag using a mallet or tenderizer, or you can use any flat bottom tool to crush them finely. Measure out about half a tablespoon, and save the rest and the plastic bag if you used it for later. In a medium bowl, combine your dry ingredients, sugar, flour, salt, and freeze dried strawberries. Toss them to combine with a large spoon. Add in your vegetable oil, you can start with a tablespoon, and use a small spoon to stir and combine. For this step, since you want some chunks to form, I toss my dry ingredients over the wet in almost a folding motion. Continue and add the rest of your vegetable oil if needed to bring your ingredients together. Some of the mixture will be more of a small crumble - the variation is great!
Transfer your crumble to a lined baking sheet, and bake in the oven for about 16-18 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool.
Note: the crumb is truly one of my favorite parts of this recipe, so if you want extra, I'll provide the quantity to easily double below!
Make your frosting. First, make your white chocolate ganache. Measure out (and chop if needed) your white chocolate and place it into a bowl. Put your heavy cream into a separate, microwave safe container and into the microwave. Heat your cream VERY carefully, I did in 5 second intervals since it's such a small amount. Once it is hot to the touch but not boiling, pour your heavy cream over your white chocolate. Allow it to sit for two minutes.
Meanwhile, into the same plastic bag or container you used to crush your other freeze dried strawberries, add a half cup and crush them into a powder.
Now, back to your ganache - stir your white chocolate and cream mixture together until it fully combines and has a glossy look to it. If you still see any chunks or streaks of white chocolate, you can place the mixture into the microwave for 5 seconds at a time. Set aside to cool slightly.
Into your stand mixer with your paddle attachment, add in 10 tablespoons of butter at room temperature and your powdered sugar. Turn your mixer on at the lowest speed, and then slowly increase to combine your butter and sugar. Allow your mixer to continue at a high speed for about 2 minutes.
Scrape down the sides of your bowl and paddle attachment, then add in your freeze dried strawberry powder and salt. Turn your mixer back up to its highest speed and leave to combine for 1-2 minutes.
Next, add in your 1/4 cup of heavy cream and vanilla extract. Turn your mixer back on slowly to a high speed, and allow it to whip your frosting for about two minutes. Add in your sprinkles, reserving a tablespoon for additional decoration, and whip your mixture for another two minutes.
Check that your ganache is cool to the touch, and if it is you can pour it into your frosting mixture. Turn your stand mixer back up to a high speed and leave to mix for 2-3 minutes.
Assemble your cupcakes.
Ensure your cupcakes have fully cooled. If you need to speed things along, I like to remove the cupcakes from the cupcake tin, and sometimes I place them in the fridge for about 30 minutes. When it comes to decorating your cupcakes, you can do this however you'd like! The two options I like best for this recipe:
Spread your frosting evenly across your 12 cupcakes, then add your remaining sprinkles across the top. If you have any smaller crumb, sprinkle that evenly across your cupcakes, and then carefully place the larger pieces of crumb across the tops - if any are too big, you can break them down as you go. Lightly pat down to secure.
Stir about half of your crumb into your frosting. Spread your frosting onto your cupcakes, and then top with the remaining sprinkles from earlier and decorate with the rest of your crumb on top of each cupcake. Lightly tap the decorative crumb down to secure.
However you decorate your cupcakes, once they're set, place them into the fridge for about an hour so that your frosting (and especially the ganache) can set and then enjoy! You can store your cupcakes in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days, and allow them to come down to room temperature (about 30 minutes - an hour) before enjoying.
Carb and serving info:
Carbs per serving: 59
Carbs for full recipe: 713
Carb information by each piece (In case you mix and match):
Carbs for cupcake batter only: 396.8
Carbs for frosting only: 267
Carbs for crumb only: 50
Quantities to double the crumb:
1/4 cup + 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons all purpose flour
Pinch of salt
1 tablespoon freeze dried strawberries
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
How to make this recipe as a cake: If you follow me on Instagram, you may know that this recipe is inspired not only by strawberry frosted donuts but by a cake I made for my final project in my class this past month! You can see a photo here, and if you'd like to make this recipe as a cake instead, below are the tips that I learned from Milk Bar/Christina Tosi:
Using the same amount of batter, bake your cake in a parchment paper lined quarter-sheet pan at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes.
Double the "double crumb" quantity above, and double the frosting recipe.
For tools, in addition to a quarter sheet pan, you'll need a 6-inch cake ring and a roll of acetate like this.
Place your baked cake upside down onto a flat surface and remove the parchment paper. Using your 6-inch cake ring, cut out two full circles and then two half moon shapes (they don't need to be perfect but make sure you have one nice circle for the top layer).
Clean your 6-inch ring and place it over a large plate or other vessel that is fridge/freezer safe. Line the inside of the 6-inch ring with a strip of acetate.
Place your two half moons down at the bottom of your lined cake ring, and use cake scraps to fill in the center and edges as needed. Spread down a few tablespoons of frosting, sprinkle on some crumb, and then spread an additional layer of frosting over your crumb, reserving the biggest crumbs for your top layer.
Repeat this step again, cake layer, frosting, crumb, frosting.
For your final layer, place your prettiest round on top, spread with your remaining frosting, decorate with your remaining sprinkles, and place your prettiest crumbs around the outer edge of your cake and sprinkle the remaining wherever you'd like!
Allow your cake to set in the fridge (or freezer if you have space) for a few hours.
Remove the ring and acetate once your cake has fully set, and serve once it has come to room temperature!
Note: Carb information is calculated based on the specific ingredients I used to cook with to help guide my own insulin to carb ratio when dosing before I eat my home cooked recipes.