Since age 14 I’ve had a series of odd jobs. I once worked in a tennis pro-shop stringing rackets and brushing clay courts with a broom rigged to a golf cart. Later, I worked with the Army, Veterans Affairs. There you could find me huddled under workspaces, in a tangle of wires trying to set up desktop computers or shuffling around the Pentagon with promotional posters threatening to spring from my grasp, while sweating through my casual Friday attire. I was a test kitchen intern, a publications intern, a personal assistant, an editor, a chef, and I had a brief stint teaching Biology to middle schoolers in downtown Richmond. That ended when a student yelled “Bitch, you don’t know shit about photosynthesis!” He wasn’t wrong but he didn’t have to tell the world.
Of all my jobs, I felt most at home while working in a little bakery in an upscale mall in Virginia. I loved my boss, my co-workers; but more importantly, I loved my work. Mixing cake batter, baking cookies, interacting with sugar-happy customers, working the cash register, waving to my brother who passed by on his way to get lunch nearby – I was excited to go to work every. single. day.
On my lunch break – I’d take a Strawberry and Cream cupcake from the shop (paid for, I promise) and climb to the upper level of the mall’s parking garage. I’d perch myself on a concrete wall, give a dirty look to the parking patrol man who was always after me, turn the iPod up, and just feel happy to be alive. Happy to be covered in frosting and flour.
On that wall, cupcake in hand, I’d think about everything. I’d search for answers to life’s most important questions. Who do I want to be? What will I become? Where will I go? Heck, where won’t I go!? How did I get so much coconut in my pants pockets?
And sometimes I’d think about nothing at all. I’d bite into that little cupcake I made and be glad to have sun on my face and something sweet in my belly.
It was a simpler time, before New York, before culinary school, before breakups. It was a time when I had my whole life ahead of me and my only concern was savoring that last little morsel of strawberry deliciousness before returning to finish my shift.
Every time I make these cupcakes I am transported back in time. They bring instantaneous brightness to even the worst of days and they are damn adorable. The cake is incredibly moist, the buttercream is just rich enough and the bits of strawberry feel like rainbows exploding in your mouth when they hit your tongue.
Make some for yourself, find a place to perch, and remember to be grateful for the simple pleasures of life like sunshine, cupcakes, your own thoughts, a job well done, a new day.
I LOVE CAKE! Okay – glad that is out of my system. Let’s start. Preheat your oven to 350° F.
Start by whisking together your dry ingredients in medium bowl (full list below).
Place your butter and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer.
Cream together on medium speed for about 4 minutes until light and fluffy.
Add your eggs one at a time, scraping after each addition.
Add your vanilla.
Add one third of your dry ingredients and mix on low speed until just combined.
Add half of the milk. Follow with the second third of your dry ingredients, second half of your milk, and end with the final third of dry ingredients. Mix until just combined.
If there are any dry or wet pockets mix them in lightly using your spatula. Don’t over mix – so help me!
Add your berries. Look at ’em.
Using two spoons or an ice cream scoop, fill muffin tins lined with cupcake wrappers about 3/4 of the way up. Place tins into the preheated oven and bake for 25 minutes rotating the pans halfway through the baking time.
Let the cupcakes cool completely before frosting with my Vanilla Butter Cream recipe. Get it by clicking here!
Decorate with sliced strawberries and stuff your face immediately!
Strawberry and Cream Cupcakes
1 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups of cake flour
1 tablespoon of baking powder
1/2 teaspoon of salt
2 sticks of unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/4 cups of sugar
4 eggs, at room temperature
1 tablespoon of vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups of whole milk
2 cups of strawberries, chopped
A double recipe of Vanilla Butter Cream.
Preheat your oven to 350° F.
Whisk together the flours, baking powder and salt.
In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream together the butter and sugar for about 4-5 minutes until light and fluffy.
Add in your eggs one at a time, scraping down the sides of the bowl in between each addition.
Add one third of the flour, followed by half of the milk. Repeat with second third of flour and last half of milk, ending with the final third of flour, mixing to combine and scraping down the bowl in-between each addition.
Using a spatula, gently fold in the chopped berries.
Using two spoons or an ice cream scoop, fill lined muffin tins 3/4 of the way full. Bake for 25 minutes, rotating the pans halfway through the baking time.
Remove from the oven and let cool completely before frosting with the buttercream. Top with sliced strawberries for a little special something.
Eat all the cupcakes, all the time!