Summer Strawberry Cupcakes (Small Batch)

Few flavors are more evocative of summertime than strawberry. These light but moist cupcakes are a unique, all-natural celebration of warm, sunny weather.

(Ironically, I baked them on a rainy afternoon!)

Sunny cupcakes – perfect for a rainy afternoon!

Hoping to expand my baking repertoire, I decided to spend a rainy afternoon perfecting a small batch of strawberry cupcakes.

The idea appealed to me for several reasons: (1) I love the flavor of strawberries; (2) I find pink cupcakes attractive; (3) I had a bowl of fresh, chopped strawberries that were starting to get a bit too mushy to eat on their own.

Notes on the Recipe:

Whipping Your Egg White: This recipe calls for one whipped egg white. I use a handheld electric mixer to beat my egg white to medium peaks. To do this, separate the egg white from the yolk and pour the white into a mixing bowl. Begin mixing your egg white on a medium-low speed, until the egg white forms a foam. Then, switch the speed to high and whip the egg whites until medium stiff peaks form. (The peak should hold its shape when you lift the mixer out of the whipped egg white). If you don’t have any electric mixer, you can whip your egg white by hand with a whisk. This works fine, but will take much longer (and require more work) than using an electric mixer.

Strawberry Puree: A fresh strawberry puree is added to both the cake batter and the frosting. I blend the strawberries (with a little bit of water) in a small blender. After the puree is mostly smooth, I strain the strawberries through a fine mesh strainer.If you don’t use the strainer, you may have a few seeds in your batter and frosting. You may also use frozen strawberries in this recipe. Simply allow the strawberries to reach room temperature before using.

Frosting: This butter-based frosting uses strawberry puree instead of milk. If you don’t want the additional strawberry flavor, use 1/3 to 1/2 tablespoon of milk in place of the strawberry puree. If you use the strawberry puree, add it gradually. If you add too much, your frosting will be runny.

Color: Fresh strawberries will naturally turn your cake and frosting a light pink color. If you prefer a deeper color, you may want to add a bit of food coloring.

Cost Analysis:

Vanilla, butter, and strawberries are the most expensive ingredients in this recipe. Frozen strawberries are a cheaper alternative, but might not have the same level of flavor provided by fresh strawberries. The full cost analysis is provided below.

Please note – the cost is based on what I paid for ingredients in the year 2020. Your actual costs may differ.

Picture Tutorial:

Recipe:

Small batch fresh strawberry cupcakes

  • Difficulty: easy
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Few flavors are more evocative of summertime than strawberry. These light but moist cupcakes are a unique, all-natural celebration of warm, sunny weather.

Ingredients

    For the cake:
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil or other neutral oil
  • 1 tablespoon softened butter
  • 1/4 cup + 1/2 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 1 egg white (whipped to medium peak)
  • 6 tablespoons flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon table salt
  • 3 tablespoons milk
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup sliced fresh strawberries (about two large strawberries)
  • 1 teaspoon water
  • For the frosting:
  • 2 tablespoons softened butter
  • 8 tablespoons powdered sugar
  • 1 fresh strawberry for strawberry puree (made during preparation of the cake)
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions

For the cake:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Cream the softened butter, granulated sugar, and oil together in a mixing bowl.
  2. Sift together flour, baking powder, and salt in a small bowl. Combine milk and vanilla extract in a separate small bowl.
  3. Gently beat flour mixture and milk mixture into batter until it is smooth. It is easiest if you alternate between adding the flour mixture and the milk mixture, starting and ending with the flour mixture.
  4. Create the strawberry puree for both the cake and the frosting. To make it, add three strawberries (or about 3/8 cup of sliced strawberries) and 1 teaspoon of water to a small blender. Mix until well combined. Place a fine mesh strainer over a bowl and pour the puree through the strainer (to remove seeds).
  5. Set aside 1/2 tablespoon of strawberry puree and refrigerate. (You will use this when you create the frosting). Add the remaining strawberry puree to the cake batter and gently mix it in.
  6. Whip your egg white to medium peaks in a separate mixing bowl. To do this, separate the egg white from the yolk and pour the white into a mixing bowl. Begin mixing your egg white on a medium-low speed with an electric mixer, until the egg white forms a foam. Then, switch the speed to high and whip the egg whites until medium stiff peaks form. The peak should hold its shape when you lift the mixer out of the whipped egg white. See additional pictures of the process above.
  7. Gently fold the egg white into your cake batter. Do not over-mix!
  8. Line a muffin tin with four paper liners (or grease). Pour batter into the liners until they are filled about 2/3 to 3/4 of the way full. The cupcakes will rise in the oven, but not as much as other recipes I have made. If you fill 1/2 of the way full with this recipe, the baked cupcakes will not reach the top of the paper liners.
  9. Bake for 14-18 minutes. Check with a toothpick. It should come out clean when the cupcakes are done.
  10. Remove from oven and allow to cool in the muffin tin for 1 minute. Remove from muffin tin and allow to cool completely prior to frosting.
  11. For the frosting:

  12. Mix softened butter, powdered sugar, strawberry puree (made earlier), and vanilla with a mixer on low speed. It should form a thick buttercream. Make sure you add the puree slowly, starting with 1/3 tablespoon. If you add too much puree, the frosting will be runny. If the frosting is too thick, add a little bit of milk until the frosting reaches your desired consistency.
  13. Frost cooled cupcakes.
  14. Enjoy!

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Chocolate Cupcakes (small batch)

My sweet tooth has been a little out of control lately. Since James is a chocolate fan, I decided to make chocolate cupcakes with a chocolate buttercream frosting. If you prefer vanilla, you may like our small batch vanilla cupcake recipe.

As a family of two, large batches of baked goods can be problematic. We either eat all of the treats (bad for the waistline) or don’t eat all of the treats (waste of food and money). So, this recipe is perfect for us. It makes four cupcakes that cost about $0.37 a piece (see below for a cost analysis).

Cost Analysis:

Note: The costs are based on what I paid for ingredients in 2020. Your total cost may differ.

Picture Tutorial:

For the cake:

For the frosting:

Recipe:

Small batch chocolate cupcakes

  • Difficulty: easy
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These dark chocolate cupcakes with thick chocolate buttercream frosting are rich and delicious. The recipe only makes four, so you could eat the whole batch…

Ingredients

    For the cake:
  • 6 tablespoons flour
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 2 tablespoons softened butter
  • 3 tablespoons water
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 large egg (at room temperature)
  • For the frosting:
  • 2 tablespoons softened butter
  • 7 tablespoons powdered sugar
  • 1 tablespoon cocoa powder
  • 1/2 tablespoon milk
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions

For the cake:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Sift together flour, granulated sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cocoa powder
  2. Beat softened butter into the mixture of dry ingredients.
  3. Beat in water and vanilla for 2 minutes. If using a hand mixer, set it to medium speed.
  4. Beat in egg for an additional 2 minutes.
  5. Line a muffin tin with paper liners (or grease) and pour batter into cups. Fill the cups 1/2 to 2/3 of the way full. If you would like over-sized cupcakes, the batter should make 4 cupcakes. Otherwise, it will make 5-6 regular-sized cupcakes. Note: filling beyond 1/2 of the way full may cause your cupcakes to form a muffin-like top. If you prefer cupcakes without this, only fill 1/2 of the way full!
  6. Bake for 15-18 minutes. Check with a toothpick. It should come out relatively clean when the cupcakes are done.
  7. Remove from oven and allow to cool in the muffin tin for 1 minute. Remove cakes from muffin tin and allow them to cool completely before frosting.
    1. For the frosting:

      1. Combine softened butter, powdered sugar, cocoa powder, milk and vanilla in a medium-sized bowl and mix with a mixer. After a minute or two, it should form a thick buttercream. If it is too thick, add a little bit of extra milk and mix until smooth.
      2. Frost cooled cupcakes.
      3. Enjoy!

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Low-Cost Gifting: Cinnamon Roasted Almonds

One of the best smells in the whole world is the aroma of cinnamon roasted nuts. I associate it strongly with fairs and carnivals, and with wandering around with a little paper cone of nuts in my hand, trying not to devour the pricey little treat too quickly.

Fortunately for me (and for you), cinnamon-roasting your own almonds at home is easy, inexpensive, and just as delicious as the ones you can buy at fairs and carnivals. I have even given glass jars of cinnamon-roasted almonds as very successful (and budget-friendly at $3.64 per batch) gifts on several occasions. People never fail to be impressed and delighted with this tasty treat! If you are interested in more creative ways to save on gift giving, visit our post here!

Frugal Cost Analysis:

Note: This cost analysis is based on what I paid for my own ingredients in the year 2020. Actual prices may vary.

Picture Tutorial:

Recipe:

Cinnamon Roasted Almonds

  • Difficulty: easy
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Sweet, savory, and crunchy. The perfect thrifty gift, or a great homemade treat!

Ingredients

  • 2 cups natural almonds
  • 1 cup granulated sugar (white sugar)
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup water

Directions

  1. Line a baking sheet with wax paper.
  2. Heat a large frying pan on medium heat.
  3. Add water, sugar, and cinnamon to the frying pan. Mix it thoroughly and wait for it to come to a low boil.
  4. Add the almonds and stir slowly and constantly in a circular motion. Scrape the sides of the frying pan to keep the sugar from building up.
  5. When the water/sugar mixture begins to form a thick syrup, remove the pan from heat and pour the almonds onto the baking sheet. (Note: It is hard to gauge when to remove the almonds. If the sugar starts to form granules, take it off the heat immediately).
  6. Allow the almonds to cool for 15 minutes before enjoying.

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