strawberry lemonade cupcakes

April 25, 2011

After a gray week in Chicago that got off on the wrong foot Monday morning with an inch of snow on the ground, I needed anything bright and would remind me that summer was on her way.  A combination of sweet and sour has always been a favorite of mine, so a couple years ago – in the perpetual pre-spring the midwest is able to produce – I came to the conclusion that I wanted to somehow eat a strawberry lemonade and found a way to do just that.  I adapted one easy cake recipe from several and came up with a deliciously tart and toothsome treat!

Strawberry Cake 

  • 1 (18 1/4 oz) box white cake mix
  • 1 (3 oz) box strawberry flavored instant gelatin (weird, I know, but if you don’t use it, you’ll just have hot pudding and no cake – SCIENCE!)
  • 1 (10 oz) package frozen strawberries in juice, thawed and pureed
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/4 cup water
  • fresh strawberries (for garnish)

Preheat oven to 350.  Whisk together the dry ingredients.  Beat in wet ingredients until smooth.  Pour batter into two lightly greased 9″ pans (for a two-layer round cake) or into about two lined muffin tins (for cupcakes).  For layer cake, bake for 30 minutes; for cupcakes, bake for 17-25 minutes.  Let cool in pan for 10 minutes, cool completely on wire racks.

Lemon Buttercream Frosting

  • 2 tsp grated fresh lemon rind
  • 6 tbsp butter, room temperature
  • 5 cups confectioner’s sugar, sifted
  • juice of one whole lemon
  • 3 tbsp water
  • dash of salt
  • 3 drops yellow food coloring (add more for a neon effect, but apparently people don’t know something tastes like a lemon if it isn’t a screaming yellow shade)
  • Lemon Note: I roll the lemon on the counter for a minute so it becomes juicier, and cut it in half.  I grate the rind of each half lemon and use it all because it’s kind of hard to measure all the tiny lemon bits.  It’s much easier to grate the rind while the juice is still in the lemon.  When squeezing, mind the seeds before you beat the frosting!

Combine lemon rind to butter, cream well.  Add sugar gradually (one cup at a time is good), blending well after each addition.  Add lemon juice and water, blend well with remaining sugar to a spreadable consistency.  Add salt and blend until smooth.

Here’s the final result as a cake from a couple years ago!  I included fresh strawberry slices with the lemon frosting between the cake layers.  This was a welcomed alternative to the yellow-cake-and-plain-buttercream lamb cake at Easter that year.

And here we are as a cupcake!  I shared these with my family again this Easter to rave reviews from my twin almost-three-year-old niece and nephew.  Mikaela was thrilled by the bright pink cake and Ayden stuck a fingertip into the frosting and instantly declared “Yummy!” and requested cupcakes all afternoon.


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