Strawberry & Bourbon Vanilla Cupcakes

These cute strawberry cupcakes are the epitomy of summer. A light, fluffy and moist bourbon vanilla sponge is filled with a sweet strawberry jam and topped with an intense creamy strawberry buttercream. These gorgeous cupcakes are simple to make and assemble and make the perfect Valentine’s Day or summer treat. Have a look at the simple coeliac-friendly recipe below to find out how to make them.

Of all the cupcakes I love to bake and devour, these are probably up there with my all-time favourites. This classic flavour pairing of strawberry and vanilla is always a crowd-pleaser and they definitely look the part too, so they’re sure to impress. The moist sponge is made up of just a few simple ingredients and comes together quickly. Madagascan bourbon vanilla gives them that distinctive sweet and creamy vanilla flavour which is then paired with the fruity notes of the hidden strawberry jam filling. An intense, creamy strawberry buttercream is swirled on top to finish off these summery beauties.

How do you make these cupcakes?

So, how are easy are these cupcakes to whip up. Well, we start off by creaming the margarine and sugar together in a mixer until thoroughly combined and a light and fluffy texture has been achieved. It is imperative that the maragrine, even though always softer than butter to start off with, is at room temperature for this, so that the ingredients are incorporated into the batter correctly. Once finished with the creaming method, the eggs are whisked in one at a time until a gloopy mixture forms. Be careful not to ovemix here but we do want them to be whisked in completely! The bourbon vanilla extract is added next and mixed in too. In a separate bowl, the flour, salt, Xanthan Gum and baking powder is sifted together and then slowly added to the wet ingredients and mixed in until just incorporated. We don’t want to overmix and lose those nice airbubbles that we’ve achieved in the previous whisking. The mixture is then scooped into 12 cupcake cases and baked at 160 degrees in a fan assisted oven for around 20-25 minutes until slightly golden and springy to the touch. After cooling, the buttercream is whipped up and piped on, before being topped with fresh strawberries!

What equipment do I need for these cupcakess?

  • 12-hole cupcake baking tray
  • 12 large cupcake cases – I atually use muffin cases (50 x 44mm) because you can really fill them up and have some decent sized cupcakes at the end
  • Piping bag fitted with a large open-star tip (Wilton 1M)

What ingredients do I need?

Sugar – White caster sugar adds structure and sweetness to these cupcakes and helps to keep them white during the baking process.

Eggs – Eggs are needed to add structure to the cupcakes and to help them to rise in the baking process, room temperature is essential

Margarine – Margarine works wonders in plain vanilla cupcakes, hence why I’d recommend sticking to a margarine spread like Stork rather than a butter. Unsalted butter can be used at room temperature but you won’t get a super light and fluffy cupcake like you would with margarine

Butter – Unsalted butter is needed for the buttercream and it is essential that it is softened to room temperature beforehand

Gluten-free flour – A gluten-free flour blend which contains a variety of flours is perfect for gluten-free baking. This ensures the cupcakes contain all of the necessary components needed to create the perfect crumb which a gluten-containing flour would natually contain. For these cupcakes I like to use a self-raising flour

Xanthan gum – Xanthan gum is essential for most gluten free recipes and there’s no exceptions here. Doves Farm is my preferred choice but you can use any brand. Xanthan Gum is a gluten replacement for gluten-free baking and helps to replace the lost elasticity that gluten provides, keeping your cupcakes together and stopping them from crumbling into dry pieces later on

Baking powder – Baking powder acts as a leavening agent, helping the cupcakes to rise. Any baking powder will work, just again, check that it is definitely gluten-free as not all brands are.

Salt – A pinch of salt in a recipe enhances the flavours of the other ingredients and offsets the sweetness of the cupcakes. I like to add a pinch of salt to the buttercream too, sounds strange, but trust me, it works!

Double cream – Cream makes the buttercream even creamier! Milk can also be used if you don’t have any cream

Bourbon vanilla extract – A few drops of vanilla extract enhances the flavour of the cupcakes. Vanilla paste can be used too or vanilla from a vanilla pod. I prefer to use a clear liquid extract for this recipe in order to avoid adding any unnecessary yellow tinges to the mixture.

Freeze-dried strawberries– I prefer to use freeze-dried strawberries for the buttercream so as not to upset the balance of ingredients and add too much extra moisture with fresh ones. Blitz up to a powder, freeze-dried strawberries add that powerful intense flavour to the buttercream and act as a brilliant natural food colouring

Icing sugar – Icing sugar or confectioner’s sugar adds the sweetness and structure to the buttercream. It helps the buttercream to set once you’ve piped it into beautiful swirls on your cupcakes

Fresh strawberries – Fresh strawberries finish off these cupcakes perfectly

Strawberry jam – A blob of strawberrry jam makes the filling for these cupcakes

Tips & Tricks

Room temperature ingredients are essential for this recipe to work. Room temperature ingredients ensures that they all can be mixed together thoroughly. If you forget to take your eggs out of the fridge beforehand, place them in a bowl of lukewarm, not hot, water 15 minutes prior to baking to bring them to room temperature quickly.

Uniform-sized cupcakes – I like to use an ice cream scoop to spoon my mixture into the cases. This way the cupcakes are likely to have a more uniform size after baking.

The toothpick test is a great way to check whether your cupcakes are done. As all ovens are calibrated differently, the baking times stated are always suggested a a rough guide. To check if the cupcakes are done, insert a tootpick into the middle of a cupcake and if it comes out with no crumbs stuck to it, you can assume that the cupcakes are baked through and ready to come out.

Strawberry Bourbon Vanilla Cupcakes

Soft and fluffy vanilla cupcakes, loaded with sweet strawberry jam and topped with a swirl of strawberry buttercream – the perfect dessert for strawberry season!
Prep Time15 minutes
Cook Time20 minutes
Cooling time1 hour
Total Time1 hour 35 minutes
Course: Dessert
Keyword: cupcakes, strawberry, Summer, Valentine’s Day, vanilla
Servings: 12

Ingredients

For the cupcakes

  • 230 g margarine room temperature
  • 230 g caster sugar
  • 230 g gluten-free self-raising flour blend
  • 4 large eggs room temperature
  • ½ tsp Bourbon vanilla extract
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • ¼ tsp Xanthan Gum

For the filling

  • 6 tsp strawberry jam

For the buttercream

  • 250 g unsalted butter softened, room temperature
  • 350 g icing sugar sifted
  • 20 g freeze-dried strawberries powdered
  • 3 tbsp double-cream
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 6 fresh strawberries halved, to top

Instructions

For the cupcakes

  • Preheat the oven to 160 C fan and line a 12-hole muffin tray with 12 large cupcake cases.
  • Cream the margarine on a high speed in a mixer for 2-3 minutes until lighter in colour and fluffy in texture.
    230 g margarine
  • Add the sugar and whisk again on a high speed until fully incorporated.
    230 g caster sugar
  • Whisk in the eggs one at a time and then the bourbon vanilla extract.
    4 large eggs, ½ tsp Bourbon vanilla extract
  • Sift in the flour, salt, baking powder and Xanthan Gum, and mix in on a low-medium speed until just incorporated and no pockets of flour remain.
    230 g gluten-free self-raising flour blend, ¼ tsp salt, ½ tsp baking powder, ¼ tsp Xanthan Gum
  • Use an ice cream scoop to spoon one generous scoop into each of the cupcake cases, dividing the mixture evenly.
  • Bake on the middle shelf for around 20-25 minutes, until springy to the touch and an inserted toothpick comes out clean with no wet crumbs stuck to it.
  • Allow the cupcakes to cool for a minute or two, before transfering to a cooling rack to cool completely before preparing the buttercream.

For the filling

  • Once the cupcakes have cooled to room temperature, create a hole in the centre of each cupcake and spoon ⅓ a teaspoon of strawberry jam into each hole. Place the tops back on top of the jam to cover the hole.
    6 tsp strawberry jam

For the strawberry frosting

  • For the buttercream, cream the butter in a mixer on the highest speed for 4-5 minutes, scraping down the sides as neccesary. The butter should be paler in colour and light and fluffy in texture.
    250 g unsalted butter
  • Add the powdered freeze-dried strawberries and the double cream and whisk again until fully incorporated.
    20 g freeze-dried strawberries
  • Sift in the icing sugar and salt in batches, until no lumps remain. If the buttercream is too runny, add a tablespoon of icing sugar at a time to thicken. If the opposite occurs and the buttercream is too stiff, add another tablespoon of double-cream to loosen.
    350 g icing sugar, 3 tbsp double-cream, ¼ tsp salt
  • Transfer the buttercream to the piping bag fitted with an open-star tip, and pipe a blob into the centre of the cupcake to create some support for the swirl. Starting at the base, pipe 3 swirls around the cupcake and top with half a strawberry to finish.
    6 fresh strawberries

Notes

Tips and Tricks
Room temperature ingredients are essential for this recipe to work. Room temperature ingredients ensures that they all can be mixed together thoroughly. If you forget to take your eggs out of the fridge beforehand, place them in a bowl of lukewarm, not hot, water 15 minutes prior to baking to bring them to room temperature quickly.
Uniform-sized cupcakes – I like to use an ice cream scoop to spoon my mixture into the cases. This way the cupcakes are likely to have a more uniform size after baking.
The toothpick test is a great way to check whether your cupcakes are done. As all ovens are calibrated differently, the baking times stated are always suggested a a rough guide. To check if the cupcakes are done, insert a tootpick into the middle of a cupcake and if it comes out with no crumbs stuck to it, you can assume that the cupcakes are baked through and ready to come out.
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