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March 15, 2009

Sincere Strawberry Cupcakes

I'm the first to admit that cake mixes can be used to make some pretty amazing desserts, but for some reason the idea of using them to make cupcakes for a baby shower just seemed all wrong. When I was looking for a recipe to use, the vast majority that I found included a box of white cake mix and strawberry gelatin. While I know that this recipe is beloved by many (it has quite the following in the South), I wanted to make cupcakes that looked an tasted like real strawberries, not day-glo red in color and strawberry Kool-aid flavored.

There were a few other "scratch" style strawberry cupcake recipes that looked promising, but nothing really jumped out at me. My goal was to find a recipe that resembled the flavor of strawberry shortcake and I think this recipe came really close. You know when you're almost done with a bowl and strawberry shortcake, and the strawberries, cake, and cream are all muddled together at the bottom? Well this is what this cupcake tasted like! Since I was making these cupcakes specifically for the Whale Cupcakes, I wanted the frosting to be white so I opted to make my favorite tried and true vanilla buttercream frosting. However the next time I make these, I plan to include a few tablespoons of strawberries and strawberry juice in the frosting for some extra strawberry flavor and color.

In the end, I was thrilled with the end result. Everyone loved them! Oh and I'm pretty sure that they would adapt well to any type of fruit. Perhaps next time I'll try cherry!

Sincere Strawberry Cupcakes
Yield: 24 to 28 cupcakes

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
4 eggs, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla paste or pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
2 3/4 cups sifted cake flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 cup whole milk, at room temperature
1 pkg (10-12 ounces) frozen strawberries, defrosted or fresh strawberries (please see specific instructions for below)
2 tablespoons of granulated sugar

If you're using fresh strawberries: First, rinse the berries really well and remove the stems. Quarter or rough chop them them into a bowl and add a few tablespoons of water and mix to coat. Then add a tablespoon or two of sugar (enough to coat the surface) and mix to coat again. Cover and refrigerate the berries for several hours or better yet, overnight.

If you're using frozen strawberries: Put the defrosted strawberries into a bowl and cover them with the sugar, mixing well to coat them. Let the strawberries sit on the counter for at least an hour to macerate (best to do this the night before or early in the day).

Once they are soft and mushy, use a fork to mash the strawberries. Be careful not to mash them too much (you want there to be some chucks). Place the berries in a mesh strainer and drain as much of the juice that you can. Reserve the juice.

Preheat oven to 350F. Line muffin tin with baking cups.

In medium bowl, beat butter and sugar with electric mixer for 3 minutes. It should be very pale yellow and and fluffy. Add one egg at a time and mix for 1 full minute on medium-low speed (no cheating! :) ) - be sure to scrape down the bowl a few times to ensure that everything is mixing together properly. Add vanilla and almond extract and mix again for 30 seconds.

In a small bowl, whisk together flour, salt, and baking powder. Alternately add flour mixture and milk, in 3 batches, starting with the flour. Be sure to mix well after each addition and scrape the bowl down every so often.

Mix in the strawberries on low speed plus 1/4 cup of the strawberry juice. Scoop batter into prepared pan and bake for 21-23 minutes. The surface of the cupcakes should spring back when touched and just a little brown. You can also test doneness by inserting a toothpick into the center of the cupcake comes out with just a few pieces of cake clinging to it. Cool in the pan for about 5 minutes and then transfer to a wire rack.

While the cakes are still a little warm, using a clean pastry brush (or a folk), paint the surface of the cupcake with the strawberry juice (be careful not to saturate the surface). Let the cupcakes continue to cool completely. Frost if desired. Cover and store at room temperature or in the fridge. Frost with your favorite frosting (I prefer to use Wilton's Buttercream frosting or eat plain.


  1. Oh these sound awesome! They remind me of a strawberry cake that my aunt made back in the 60's. I have the recipe, but I don't recall making it. It sounds pretty close to yours... if it's different I will forward along the recipe for you to try. Thanks for reminding me of this one!

  2. I've had the same problem trying to find a strawberry cupcake recipe! These look great, I'll have to give them a try

  3. Oh - they look delicious. I wish I could have sampled them. LOL!!

  4. Your cupcakes look great. I'm bookmarking the recipe for another day.
    I was wondering if you thought of poking some holes into your baked cupcakes with a skewer before brushing the tops with the juice. I made coffee cupcakes not long ago and did it that way.

  5. Oh man, these look delicious!! It's so funny that you posted about your frustration finding a true strawberry recipe...I have a huge pint of strawberries, and I've been looking for the perfect cake to use them in. It's more difficult than I thought to find an appealing recipe, but you've just gone and given me one!! I can't wait to try out this recipe, and I'll totally take your advice and add some strawberries and juice to the buttercream. Man, these look so so good.

  6. Yum, strawberry cake is one of the few "strawberry" flavored desserts I like. Yours looks wonderful.

  7. These look terrific, I have frozen strawberries to use up too!

  8. how lovely and simple! homey and comforting desserts are sometimes the best! these sound just amazing!

  9. Strawberry cupcakes are my fave! Thanks for sharing!

  10. I just found your blog and I love it!! I have spent at least an hour looking through your posts, you are seriously talented!

  11. Wow, REAL strawberry cupcakes! I look forward to making these!

  12. for the life of me, i can't figure out why real strawberries aren't used in cakes more often. you see other berries all the time. bravo, julia--you have a real treat on your hands here!

  13. LaDue -- don't you just love that when you read about something on a blog and it brings back lost memories from your past? I'm so glad that I could do that for you. And if you do find that recipe, I'd love to see it!

    Nikki - Please let me know if you do make them. I'm very curious to know how they turned out.

    ReMo - Would you believe I had a few extra sitting at my desk for most of the day on Friday. I think I think I might be co-workers might be getting a little tired of all my treats.

    Oneordinaryday - Please let me know if you do make them. Regarding poking holes -- I did actually think of that but I didn't want to overly saturate the little cake. I only wanted to add some additional strawberry flavor and create a little strawberry crust. But I do appreciate your suggestion!

    Elyse - ahh it is fate then! Please let me know how they turn out.

    Ingrid - No a big strawberry fan? Do you like strawberry shortcake?

    Bunny - Awesome! Please let me know if you make them.

    Heather - Thank you and I couldn't agree more with you about sticking to homey and simple. :)

    Hayley - You bet! Thanks for stopping by!

    Lauren's Blog - I'm so glad you stopped by. Thank you so much!

    Evil Cake Lady - I know, what a concept, right? ;) Please let me know if you do make them.

    Grace - I know, it's sad, isn't it? I wonder if it has something to do with the fact that strawberries have so much water in them?

  14. I can't wait to try these! I love anything strawberry; I made some off a recipe given to me by a friend recently and they came out yummy, but the recipe is SO different! Can't wait to try them!

  15. I have been looking for a good strawberry cupcake recipe for a while. This one looks great!!

    What frosting did you use?

  16. these sound really awesomE! and they look so pretty!!

  17. Julia - I am not a baker at all but these strawberry cupcakes sound so good I am tempted to go out and buy my first ever bag of cake flour in my 43 years.

  18. if you took out butter right out of the fridge and want it at room temperature, how long will that process take? i know you can cut up the cold butter into little pieces to make it room temperature faster but I like the butter to be whole and not little pieces. thanks

  19. Can I use Strawberry Jam instead??

  20. Sarafina -- I think your compliment may have been the best I've ever received. I love the idea of you making these little cakes! Please let me know if you do and how they turn out.

    Anonymous - My rule is to take the butter out of the fridge about 1/2 hour before baking. If I dent it with my thumb without having to push on the butter, it's ready. Sometimes in a pinch I'll nuke the butter, unwrapped, in a bowl for 1 or 2 minutes on 20% power. That seems to do the trick too. Just never, ever use cold butter as it will form little chunks in the batter and could ruin the recipe.

    Carina -- you know, you probably could, but I wouldn't exchange them for the fresh/frozen strawberries. Instead, try this: Make the cupcake recipe, ignoring the steps that involve strawberries. Fill the cupcakes halfway and then put 1 teaspoon of jam in the center. Cover it with a bit more batter and then bake as the recipe directs.

    If you try this, let me know how this turns out please. :)

  21. Hi,

    I live in England, we do not have cake flour, what is the gluten level or protein of cake flower? Thanks


  22. Hi Tim,

    The cake flour I use has 8% gluten content. You can substitute all-purpose flour, but use 1 cup minus 2 tablespoons for every cup of cake flour. The cake should still come out tasting good, but the crumb will be a bit more substantial.

    I've also read that you can create cake flour by triple-sifting 1 3/4 cup all-purpose flour with 1/4 cup corn starch. I've never personally tried this but I've found a few resources on the web that seems to imply that it's a good replacement.

    I find it so odd that you cake flour is so hard to find there. I wonder why that is?

    Thanks for visiting my blog!

  23. I just made these, and my goodness, are they delicious! Thanks for sharing.

  24. Julie, My kids (9 & 11) and I made these on Friday for Easter brunch on Sunday. I think we followed the directions fairly well, though our sifter broke part-way through and we were using a hand mixer, not a stand mixer. They were DELICIOUS! - though they were more dense and moist than the crumb in your photos. Maybe overmixed? Undercooked? When I painted on the strawberry juice the tops sort of sunk to a bit concave. Saturday I made a glaze that Giada did on the Today show (http://today.msnbc.msn.com/id/30032083/). I think I had too much strawberry and too little powdered sugar. This part was not well measured. The glaze did not firm up. I ended up refrigerating them Saturday night because I was afraid they would get moldy. The next morning I added a slice of strawberry to the little bowl of glaze atop each cupcake. Not as pretty as your but rave reviews all around. They did taste very much like strawberry shortcakes. I will try again. Love your blog!

  25. Do you mean a stick of butter instead of a cup ? If the later, how do you measure a cup of butter ? Thanks !

  26. Anonymous - I updated the recipe to clarify that 1 cup of butter equals 2 sticks. Each stick of butter is 4 oz, so for future reference. :)

  27. delicious! so glad I came across this recipe. my daughter requested strawberry cupcakes with yellow and pink icing for her 3rd birthday party tomorrow. I just took them out of the oven and had to taste one. So good! Now off to make and color some buttercream frosting. Thanks

  28. I'm trying these today because one of my best friends loves strawberry cupcakes, and tomorrow is her birthday. Thanks for the great recipe! I'll let you know how they turn out. I hope there's enough left for her gift. :) *excited*

  29. Hello--
    I just came across this recipe.I have been searching for a strawberry cupcake that had good flavor and I agree I am reminded of Strawberry shortcake.Thanks so much for posting it. I just finished making them and they turned out delicious. I am going to make them again next weekend and bring them to a Family Dinner....I used frozen strawberries that I let thaw and then chopped them up. I did not have much luck with brushing them with juice so I just added some extra strawberries into the frosting....YUM!

  30. I'm going to try these! I've been searching for a strawberry cupcake recipe and this sounds like THE ONE.

  31. AnonymousJune 02, 2010

    I made these for my dtr's birthday party back in January and they were soooo gooood! Everybody loved them. I followed the recipe to the tee and they turned out exactly as pictured. BIG thanks for the recipe! I'm planning to bake another batch real soon.

  32. Hi - I made these one time but the tops collapsed once the cupcakes cooled down. The only thing I could think of was that I sifted, then measured out the flour. Should I measure out the flour first, then sift? Thanks!

  33. Hi Julia,

    I have made these three times, today will be the fourth. I haven't changed anything; they are absolutely perfect. I use a simple buttercream frosting as you mention and sprinkle chopped fresh strawberries on top. People at work bug me about making them again, which is the reason for today's batch! Thanks so much for the fab recipe; I love your blog!!


  34. I have made these and just love them! The only thing I changed was omitted the almond extract (I don't care for it), and then I use some of the puree to baste the tops of the cupcakes when they first come out of the oven for extra strawberry flava! Recipe yields about twice the amount of frosting needed so you might as well double the cake recipe. Enjoy, YUM!

  35. OOps, you do say to baste with puree :P

  36. My daughter was here discussing wedding plans with her mum. She and I were chatting, and somehow the subject of cupcakes came up. She express a wish for strawberry cupcakes, so Dad, being one who likes cooking found this recipe and made them, today. Some neighborhood children who play with our ward and niece sampled them and immediatly wanted the recipes for their mum or dad to make. I think this is the best recipe I have found. I have eliminated white sugar from my diet, so I used demerara sugar and it worked beautifully. With just the extra strawberry juice as frosting, the cupcakes were spectacular.

  37. EggsandSugarMarch 13, 2011

    Thanks for the amazing recipe! I made these and filled and frosted them with a chocolate frosting and they turned out amazing!

  38. well i want to say that I was so excited to do this cake that I followed the reciepe but since I did not have fresh nor fronzen strawberries I used crush strawberry soda. it was a hit every single person that ate these cupcakes was really enpressed. one friend said that it taste as she bought it in a cake store. thank you this receipe is a keeper.

  39. just used this recipe......end result was more like scones....not enough sugar.....will never try again

  40. I will definitely gonna try this one on a weekend.. looks really delicious.=0

  41. Thank you so much for this recipe! I've made it at least 4 times over the past year or so and it's now my go-to for strawberry cupcakes from scratch. Thank you!

  42. OMG these look amazing! I can't wait to try them. This may be a dumb question but when measuring flour, do you measure out 2 and 3/4 cups and then sift or measure out 2 and 3/4 while sifting?

  43. AnonymousMay 06, 2012

    I know this post has been up for a while, so I'm not sure how many people will read this, but I wanted to share...

    I made these cupcakes for my daughter's first birthday last year, and they went over so well I'm using the recipe again for her second birthday. Last year I was actually asked where I had bought them, but I think they are better than cupcakes from a fancy bakery. Thank you for sharing such a beautiful recipe!

  44. That makes me so happy to see how many people like this recipe. Thanks for the love everyone :)

  45. Gave the recipe a try yesterday, added mashed bananas and used a cream cheese frosting that I put a little strawberry extract into. They turned out very tasty, but I think I might have thrown off the recipe a bit with the liquidity of the banana, because after they came out of the oven, they shrank down quite a bit. any suggestions for next time? more flour?

    1. Were you adding bananas to get a banana strawberry flavor or were you using them in place for fat or sugar?

      Bananas are notorious for being a flavor hog, meaning they only work with recipes where their flavor won't outshine the main ingredient. Because the strawberry flavor in this recipe is so subtle, the banana stole the spotlight and created a muddled flavor that probably wasn't great. And combining that with using strawberry extract? *Shudder!* The whole point of this recipe is to not use extract. If you combine the two flavor profiles together it will taste strange, even if you left out the banana.

      Bananas have a lot of sugar in them and if you're adding banana to a recipe that already has sugar in them, that could be the cause too. The fact that your cuppies shrank probably could also have to do with environmental factors like humidity, over mixing the batter, opening the oven while you were baking, and cupcake liners that are super slippery.

      Hope that helps!


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