This is now my favourite cupcake recipe and as with all of the recipes I cook again and again, it's simple, reasonably quick and very rewarding. It comes courtesy of Flame Tree Publishing, who are currently running a competition to win the book which features the recipe by sending them a photo of your finished Strawberry Swirl Cupcakes. I love how they look so pretty but actually only take minutes to ice. The hardest part is remembering to take ingredients like butter and eggs out of the fridge before baking to allow them to reach room temperature.
Before I tried this recipe the only icing I'd attempted was the glossy, chocolatey variety for Nigella's Chocolate Cherry Cupcakes, which is smoothed out using the back of a spoon. This recipe required fancy-looking swirls and after some research I discovered that this effect is achieved by using a Wilton 1M open star nozzle. My local cook shop didn't stock the Wilton brand but they had metal and plastic equivalents. I picked up the 8mm, 10mm and 12mm plastic nozzles, opting for the 10mm to create the frosting in the photographs.
The cake recipe makes a light and fluffy sponge. Half a teaspoon of jam is stirred into the mixture before baking and although I followed the recipe precisely, I found that the majority of the jam sank to the bottom of the cupcakes whilst they baked. I used a smooth jam which is lighter than the conserve I normally have so I'm not sure why this happened. It wasn't a huge issue but next time I'll make sure to distribute the jam more evenly and not stir it too deeply into the mixture.
Given that this was my first attempt at making two-toned, cream cheese icing and piping swirls with a piping bag I was surprised to find that it was very straightforward and suitable for beginners. If I ever tire of strawberry I might modify the recipe and make raspberry, chocolate or even carrot cupcakes.
- Preheat the oven to 180°C (190°C if your oven isn't fan assisted).
- Line a 12 cup muffin tin with deep paper cases.
- Place the sugar, margerine, flour, eggs and baking powder into a mixing bowl and use an electric mixer to whisk the ingredients together until you have a smooth batter.
- Divide the mixture between the cases and stir half a teaspoon of jam into each cupcake.
- Bake for 15 minutes until the cakes have risen and turned golden. Allow to cool on a wire rack.
- To make the icing, beat the butter with a wooden spoon then mix in the icing sugar a little at a time. Stir in the cream cheese then whisk using an electric mixer until you have smooth, fairly thick icing.
- Divide the mixture into two then mix the jam and a few drops of food colouring into one half of the icing.
- Assemble the piping bag with a large open star nozzle (I use disposable piping bags) and fill one side of the bag with the pink icing and the other with the white icing. Twist the top of the bag shut.
- Once the cakes have cooled hold the piping bag at a 45° angle and starting from the outside of the cupcake, pipe a generous swirl of icing until you reach the middle (watch this 12 second video for the technique). Repeat for the remaining cupcakes.
- Transfer the cupcakes to an airtight container and eat within 3 days.