Meet my new love, fresh strawberry cupcakes with strawberry buttercream frosting! Is there anything prettier than a perfect pink cupcake? Like many great loves, my love for these cupcakes grew over time, because it took me seven or eight tries to get this recipe just right.
Strawberry cupcakes made with white cake mix and strawberry Jell-O are all over the internet, but when I tried that recipe, the cupcakes turned out tough and dry. I wanted a cupcake recipe made from scratch with fresh strawberries, and with the perfect texture: soft but not crumbly, moist but not soggy. Most importantly, I wanted a cupcake with tons of strawberry flavor! This recipe has been through a lot of trial and testing, and I’m very happy with the results!
Another reason I’m so in love with this fresh strawberry cupcake recipe is that these little beauties are perfect for serving on my new Mosser Glass 6-inch milk white cake stand. I have a collection of vintage milk glass I inherited from my grandmother, and this new piece fits right in. It’s perfect for a small cake or any kind of dessert display.
The challenge with making strawberry cupcakes is getting enough strawberry flavor. You can’t add much fresh fruit to cakes, because the water from the fruit will make the cake soggy. These cupcakes get their intense strawberry flavor from a combination of fresh strawberries and strawberry jam. A final burst of strawberry flavor comes from freeze dried strawberries in the strawberry buttercream frosting.
The soft texture of these fresh strawberry cupcakes comes from sour cream and all-purpose flour. I tried milk, buttermilk, and sour cream in this recipe, but sour cream yielded the best results. I also tried cake flour, all-purpose flour, and half cake with half all-purpose. All the recipes with cake flour turned out too crumbly, but all-purpose flour yielded light cupcakes that didn’t crumble.
One ingredient in these cupcakes that you might not have used before is butter vanilla bakery emulsion. Unlike extracts, bakery emulsions have an intense flavor that won’t disappear during the baking process. I tried both butter vanilla bakery emulsion and vanilla extract in these cupcakes, but the bakery emulsion won out for flavor. You can buy bakery emulsions on Amazon or where cake decorating supplies are sold. Butter vanilla bakery emulsion is the secret ingredient in our No-Fail Buttercream Frosting recipe, so I usually have some in the pantry. If you don’t want to use bakery emulsion, use vanilla extract.
When baking cupcakes, it’s best to start with room temperature ingredients. Allow an hour or two for your butter, sour cream and egg to come to room temperature. If you’re in a hurry you can skip this step, but it will affect the texture of the batter a little bit. I like to measure out all the ingredients first, so I have them ready to go:
This cupcake batter calls for 2/3 cup finely diced strawberries. The strawberries I had were HUGE, so I only needed three strawberries for this recipe. Toss the diced strawberries with two tablespoons of the flour in a small bowl. Tossing the fruit pieces with flour helps keep them from sinking to the bottom of your cupcake.
After you’ve mixed together the diced strawberries and two tablespoons of flour, add the baking powder and salt to the remaining flour. Combine the dry ingredients with a whisk.
Next, using a stand mixer, cream the butter and sugar. Add the egg and bakery emulsion or vanilla extract, and beat until fluffy. If you don’t have a stand mixer, an electric hand mixer will work just fine.
Next, add 1/3 of the sour cream, then 1/3 of the dry ingredients, and repeat this process three times, mixing well after each addition. Mix in the jam until the batter is well combined. During this process, I usually have to scrape the sides of the mixing bowl several times with a spatula to make sure all the ingredients are well incorporated.
Finally, fold the flour-covered strawberries and any remaining flour into the batter by hand using a spatula, until the strawberry chunks are well distributed.
The next step is filling the cupcake cups. I always find this process to be a little messy and/or tricky. I ended up filling the cups with a 2-tablespoon cookie scoop and a 1-tablespoon cookie scoop. Fill the cups 2/3 full. You don’t want to overfill them, because the cupcakes will puff up and potentially spill over the sides. This recipe makes 15-16 cupcakes, so you will need to bake them in two batches.
I love the pretty pink color of this batter! And can I take a second to rave about this pan? This USA Pan cupcake/muffin pan is literally the best one I’ve ever owned. It distributes heat perfectly, so the cupcakes bake all the way through without getting too dark on the outside. The nonstick coating is amazing. No one is paying me to say this – I just love this pan.
These cupcakes bake for about 24 minutes at 350 degrees. While your cupcakes are in the oven, or while they’re cooling, make the strawberry buttercream frosting. This strawberry buttercream recipe is based on our No-Fail Buttercream Frosting recipe. The one difference is the addition of freeze-dried strawberries. You’ll need to grind the freeze-dried strawberries into a fine powder using a blender or food processor.
Freeze-dried strawberries add tons of real strawberry flavor to this strawberry buttercream without adding any moisture. Too much moisture is a problem in buttercream frosting. Freeze-dried strawberries are not hard to find, but they might not be in every grocery store. I had to call a few different stores in my area before I found these at Walmart.
This strawberry buttercream recipe makes plenty of frosting if you want to pipe it on bakery-style using jumbo frosting tips. Use smaller piping tips if you want less frosting.
I really hope you enjoy these fresh strawberry cupcakes. They’re perfect for baby showers, bridal showers, Valentine’s Day, Easter, birthdays, or any cupcake-worthy occasion.
Fresh Strawberry Cupcakes with Strawberry Buttercream
For the cupcakes:
- 2/3 cup finely diced strawberries 1/4 inch dice
- 1 3/4 cups 224g all-purpose flour, divided
- 1 1/4 teaspoons 5g baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon 1.5g table salt
- 3/4 cup plus two tablespoons 175g granulated sugar
- 1 stick 1/2 cup or 113g unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1 large egg
- 3/4 teaspoon 4 ml butter vanilla bakery emulsion or vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons 185ml sour cream
- 1/3 cup 110g strawberry jam
For the frosting:
- 1 cup 10-12g freeze-dried strawberries
- 1 cup 235g unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
- 4 cups 480g confectioners' sugar
- 3 tablespoons 45ml heavy cream
- 1 teaspoon 5 ml butter vanilla bakery emulsion (or vanilla extract)
- 1/4 teaspoon 1.5g table salt
Make the cupcakes:
- Line the wells of a muffin/cupcake pan with paper cupcake liners, or spray with baking spray. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
- Dice the strawberries and place in a small bowl. Sprinkle with 2 tablespoons (15g) of the all-purpose flour and toss with a fork until the pieces of fruit are coated with flour. Set aside.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the remaining flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
- In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the sugar and butter until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula as needed.
- Add the egg and bakery emulsion (or vanilla extract), and beat 2 minutes more until fluffy.
- Add the dry ingredients and sour cream alternately, 1/3 at a time. Blend until well combined. End with the flour mixture. Scrape down sides of bowl as needed.
- Mix in the jam until well combined.
- Fold in the diced strawberries with the flour, mixing by hand with a spatula until the strawberries are well distributed.
- Divide the batter among 15-16 cupcake cups, filling each about 2/3 full. Do not overfill.
- Bake at 350°F for 22-24 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Let cool for 10 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely.
Make the frosting:
- Using a blender or food processor, grind the freeze-dried strawberries to a fine powder. You should have just under 1/4 cup of strawberry powder.
- In the bowl of an electric mixer, add butter. Beat butter on medium speed with the whisk attachment for about 1 minute, until butter is smooth.
- Add 1 cup of powdered sugar, and beat until combined. Repeat with 1 more cup.
- Add bakery emulsion, heavy whipping cream, and salt, and beat until combined.
- Add the remaining powdered sugar, one cup at a time, beating until combined after each addition. Add the strawberry powder with the final cup of powdered sugar.
- Beat for about one additional minute, until frosting is smooth, thick, and fluffy.