Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Recipe: Birthday Cupcakes

Today, I turn 22! I'm one of those adorable freaks who still makes a big deal out of her birthday, so I baked cupcakes for my creative writing class: Lemon Angel Food Cupcakes, with Strawberry "Curd" and Vanilla Glaze.

My cooking philosophy tends to be very Sandra Lee. That is, there's no shame in store bought shortcuts, but make them your own. So, this recipe has three parts. The cake itself, the 'curd', and the icing.

For the cake, I used a Betty Crocker Fat Free Angel Food mix. I am a huge fan of Angel food cake. Not only is it much healthier than other cakes, it's light and fluffy, and takes other flavors very well. 

To this cake mix, I added the zest of two lemons. I don't have a grater in my college apartment, so I improvised and carefully used the edge of a serrated knife. Careful when you're zesting to not go down to the white of the lemon rind. That's the bitter part.

The box recipe calls for 1 and 1/4 cup of cold water. To add extra lemon flavor, I juiced my two lemons -- and then used water for the remaining liquid that was necessary.
 This is a trick I learned from Iron Chef - use a pair of tongs to juice the lemon. It really helps!

Combine the dry mix and zest with the juice and mix. Spoon into lined cupcake tins. The cups should be filled about 3/4 of the way. (I was able to get 33 cupcakes)

Bake at 375 degrees for 12- 20 minutes. My oven (as you can see from my steak tips video) is a bit ghetto, so I had to turn my baking pans to get a nice even bake on my cupcakes. Let the cupcakes go a little longer than you would normal cupcakes -- because they are Angel Food. They will still be light and fluffy, don't worry.

Once they're out of the oven, let them rest for awhile. I only had 24 cup cake "molds" so I needed to make another batch. If this is the case for you, make sure you put the extra batter in the fridge while you wait for the first cupcakes to cook.
Two of my favorite things in the world: cupcakes and Chopped!

Step Two: the  Strawberry "Curd", or 'filling' if you will. I am sorry to say I did not take as many pictures on this step. It was an original recipe so my hands were a little full. My bad.

  • 2 Cups Frozen (let thaw) unsweetened Strawberries
  • 1/8 cup White Sugar
  • 2 tsp. Cornstarch
  • 2 tsp. Water
To Make:
  • Blend the thawed strawberries until smooth, and pour into saucepan. Add the sugar and heat over a medium flame, stirring more frequently as the mixture gets hotter. 
  • Combine cornstarch and water in a separate dish to create a 'slurry' that will thicken your strawberry mixture. 
  • Pour slurry into strawberry puree, and stir to combine. Allow mixture to boil for five minutes, or until visibly thickened. This should not be more than 5 minutes. 
  • Remove from heat and cool in refrigerator.
Alright, here's the fun part. Now that the Strawberry curd mixture is cool, you can pipe it into the cupcakes! My homemade piping bag is just a Ziploc bag with one of the corners snipped off. 

Cut a slit into each of the cupcakes (they should be cool by now) and pipe strawberry filling into the center. Just enough to taste, you don't want to overpower the light lemon flavor of the cake, itself.

 They should look like this when you're done

Step Three: ICING!

Everyone loves store-bought icing. It's practically programmed in our DNA since those third-grade birthday parties. But, make it your own. Instead of a hunk of vanilla frosting, which would overpower my fluffy angel food cupcakes, I decided to use a trick my Mom taught me when I was little.

When store-bought icing (I'm using Betty Crocker) is microwaved, it melts into this delicious glaze, that you can artfully pour over cakes and cupcakes, for a different kind of texture, and taste experience. To do this, Put a dollop of icing into a microwave safe container. Microwave for 10-15 seconds. It should come out like the second picture below.

Beautiful! Now, drizzle over cupcakes, and serve! Delicious!


Not only are these cupcakes sure to wow your friends and family, and not only are they incredibly simple AND delicious, but they are also EXTREMELY healthy, compared to other cupcakes.

A normal lemon cupcake with vanilla icing will set you back: 270 calories, 13 g Fat, 36 g carbs, and 2 g protein.

However, because we used angel food cake, and drizzled the icing in a glaze, these cupcakes are only: 111 calories, 2 g Fat, 21 g carbs, and 1 g protein!!!


  1. Omg, looks delicious! Can't wait to try!

  2. And HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  3. These look fabulous! Saving this recipe and starting to read back through all of your posts! I love your blog! :)

  4. Impressive job taking one-handed pictures while grating lemon zest and juicing lemons! That is quite a feat.

    However, I take issue with your claim that love for store-bought icing was programmed into our DNA at third grade. If affinity for icing is indeed a genetic mutation, it would have occurred far earlier than third grade.

  5. absolutely love it! great ideas.. you should be a professional! -Erie