Then it hit me. No food coloring means that I would have to, gasp, use fruit. Mostly because blueberries are the only naturally blue food I could think of. Good thing I like blueberries. In case you're new here, I don't like the majority of fruit. I'm trying very hard to eat it lately. I figure it's not a good idea to completely dismiss an entire food grouping. Unfortunately, the red fruits posed a problem. I tried some cherries and discovered that I didn't completely mind them fresh. Fresh cherries are way better than that gross super red kind of cherry flavoring type pseudo cherries. But still they had pits. Raspberries are ok, but I had a feeling they'd bleed on the frosting, and call me a little nutty, but I just couldn't deal with that. I thought about maybe a raspberry sauce, but I really wanted to limit the amount of heat going around in my tiny little house. So I started thinking about semi sturdy red fruits and came up with the dreaded strawberries. blecch. (Yeah, I'm probably one of the very few people in the world that doesn't like strawberries.)
So for this month's Cupcake Hero I decided to go way simple and scream summer. I made my favorite basic yellow cake cupcake recipe, topped with an easy meringue buttercream recipe and decorated with fresh fruit. That's red and blue fresh fruit. Well, I made some just with blueberries, because that's how I would like them.But then I packed them all off and gave them away. I figure although cupcakes definitely enhance the taste of fruit, it's not the best way to get some fruit in my diet.
Red, White, and Blueberry Cupcakes
Yellow Cupcakes (from A Baker's Field Guide to Cupcakes)
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter at room temperature
3/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2 large eggs
1/2 cup milk at room temperature
Preheat oven to 350°F. Place paper liners in 16 muffin cups.
Whisk flour, baking powder, and salt together in a small bowl to aerate and combine; set aside.
In a large bowl with an electric mixer on medium-high speed, beat butter until creamy, about 2 minutes. Add sugar gradually, beating until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes, scraping down the bowl once or twice. Beat in vanilla extract. Beat in eggs one at a time, scraping down after each addition, allowing each egg to be absorbed before continuing. Add the flour mixture in 3 additions, alternately with the milk. Begin and end with the flour mixture, and beat briefly until smooth on low-medium speed after each addition.
Divide batter evenly among cupcake wells. Bake for about 18 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center shows a few moist crumbs. The center should also spring back when lightly pressed. The cupcakes might color a bit around the edges, but they will not brown.
Easy Meringue Buttercream (The recipe is on a recipe card that is mighty well loved and I have no idea who to attribute the original recipe to. Sorry!)
4 large egg whites
1 cup sugar
pinch of salt
12 ounces (3 sticks) unsalted butter very softened
Place egg whites, sugar and salt in medium sized heatproof mixing bowl over a pan of simmering water and whisk gently until egg whites are hot (140°F.) and sugar is melted, about 3 to 4 minutes. Remove from heat and whip by machine until thick and cooled, about 5 minutes. Beat in butter and continue beating until buttercream is smooth and spreadable.
handful of blueberries
handful of strawberries
Frost cooled cupcakes with a layer of buttercream. Decorate the tops of cupcakes with an assortment of blueberries and strawberries.