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Monday, February 10, 2014

Semi Homemade Strawberry Cupcakes {Easy Dessert}

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Have I mentioned, lately, how much I love my 14 year old electric oven?  No?  Really?!

You look surprised.

Don't be. The reason that I haven't mentioned how much I adore my oven  is probably because I don't.

                                                                       Not. One. Bit. 



Oh sure, I've figured out the electric cook top and, other than getting used to the fact that I can't leave things on the cook top after they're finished (or they will continue to cook until they're burned onto the pan to the point that a casual observer couldn't tell whether they were originally a meat, a vegetable, or some form of starch), I've gotten pretty good at cooking darned near everything on my electric stove.

Yes, I learned pretty quickly that I can't leave things on the cook top after they're cooked. Especially when they were cooked on high heat. No, I'd rather not discuss how it happened or specifically which food may have been  involved.


But as a quick aside, if you ever burn anything on the stove, I want to let you know that hypothetically speaking, spraying the entire room with  lavender and lemon infused water makes would probably make the house smell much better without opening the windows in case it's below zero or your windows are painted closed.
                                                                                                                     
                                                                          Moving on.


Let's talk about my oven, shall we?  Because that's what friends do, right? They talk about shopping, and children and kitchen appliances. Or, if they're really close friends, cellulite, but I'd rather not discuss that today. Let's save cellulite for a day in the spring...when I need to think about wearing shorts.

My oven? It's awful. Thanks for asking.   At some point, someone used oven cleaner on the racks. No, it wasn't me. Whoever did it turned my formerly pretty, shiny, chrome racks a dingy shade of dark gray. Oh, and the racks no longer glide on the rails that are a part of the side walls of the oven...they scrape...

                                                                                           ...like fingernails.....

                                                                                                                               on a chalkboard.


After my last post about the fact that I can set the temperature in my oven to 350 degrees and it then  actually bakes at 410 degrees, a couple of you wrote to tell me that it was probably the thermostat

                                                                                                                         ....which it probably is

but I'm not spending the money to get it fixed  for two very  different (and yet, related) reasons:

First, I'm willful and out to prove that I'm a good enough baker that I can figure out a way to bake things in this oven.
and
Second, I'm getting a new oven during Phase 2 of the renovation and I don't want to have to store it during construction. Because I'm willful.



If you've guessed that I don't do much baking in my current oven, you're correct. I've resorted to baking mainly muffins (instead of bread) and cupcakes (instead of cake) because I can tell by touching the tops of them whether or not muffins and cupcakes are baked all the way through.

                                                                                     Sadly, this is not  the case with angel food cake.


My first attempt at baking an angel food cake in this oven was in September for my youngest son's birthday. The cake was done (and starting to burn)  in just under twelve minutes. It was about 3 inches tall and so dry that I considered cubing it and using it for stuffing. Fortunately for my family, September nowhere near Thanksgiving.

Then, on New Year's Eve, I attempted a second angel food cake. I reduced the heat by 50 degrees and watched. The cake rose in the pan, cracked on the top, and turned a beautiful shade of golden brown.

Confident that I'd finally cracked the code to baking in my oven, I carefully removed the cake from the oven, inserted a bottle into the center of the pan and quickly flipped the cake upside down.  At this point, the top third of the cake fell immediately onto the floor revealing the wet, uncooked, center of the cake


prompting me to wish that we still had a dog who would clean it up so that I wouldn't have to and to also wish that I hadn't wasted 20 minutes whisking and whipping and another half hour baking the darned thing...that's nearly an hour of my life that I'll never get back but I still can't bring myself to eat store-bought angel food cake.

Which also brings me to today's topic: semi home-made strawberry cupcakes. Quicker and easier than made from scratch and nicer than store bought. They're the kind of cupcakes that are so easy that they can be made in a jiffy. Even in an oven where the thermostat is broken.

Kimberly


Semi-Home Made Strawberry Cupcakes (with Vanilla Buttercream Icing)

Cupcake Ingredients:
1 Box Betty Crocker Super Moist Strawberry Cake Mix
1 Small Box Strawberry Jello
1/2 Cup Fresh Strawberries. Hulled, cut and mashed slightly with a fork (don't worry, your mixer will do the rest)
4 Eggs
2/3 Cup Vegetable Oil
1 Teaspoon Vanilla

Directions:
Place all ingredients in a large bowl and beat on medium speed for two minutes until well combined.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees (this is for people who have "normal" ovens with working thermostats).
Place 12 liners into muffin cups or cupcake pans.
Fill the cups 1/2 to 2/3 full. 
Bake for 12-14 minutes until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
Cool and frost with Vanilla Buttercream icing (below)

Vanilla Buttercream Icing Ingredients:
4 cups powdered sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
1/2 cup solid all vegetable shortening (Crisco)

2-3 tablespoons Milk

Directions: 
Beat together shortening and butter
Add powdered sugar and vanilla
Add milk, as needed, until creamy.
Place icing into a pastry bag (or a plastic sandwich bag with the corner snipped off) and pipe onto the top of the cupcakes. (or frost them with a knife like I used to do before I discovered that cupcakes taste infinitely better with piped icing. Nope, I'm not kidding. Ask anyone under the age of  8).
Enjoy!


Linking to:
Pluckys Second Thought
The Girl Creative