We spent a wonderful time late this afternoon celebrating the recent retirement of a wine blogger friend. I wanted to bring something a little out of the ordinary, so I made strawberry jam cupcakes. Jam cake is an old Appalachian favorite that my Appalachian grandmother would prepare using blackberry jam that she’d made herself. This past Christmas, one of my gifts was Victuals, Ronni Lundy’s marvelous book of folkways and recipes from the Appalachians, one of the richest foodways in the world.
And in it was a recipe for blackberry jam cake. For the party, I decided to modify the recipe a bit and instead make cupcakes using strawberry jam and vanilla buttercream frosting. Since everything comes together fast in this recipe, I assembled all the ingredients first, starting by combining 3 cups of all-purpose flour (or, in my case, bread flour), 2 teaspoons baking powder, 1 teaspoon baking soda, and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Mix well and set aside. Pour 1/3 cup of buttermilk (or just under 1/3 cup of yogurt blended with a tablespoon or so of milk to thin); set this aside.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, Fahrenheit.
By now, the batter should be nice and smooth. Add 4 eggs, one at a time, and beat until creamy.
Add one cup of the flour mixture, then half of the buttermilk (or yogurt), then another cup of flour, followed by the rest of the buttermilk and then the last of the flour. Mix until well combined. The batter will be rather thick.
Now add 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract as well as 2 cups (roughly 2 jars) of strawberry jam. I opted to use seedless jam that’s sweetened with fruit juice, not high-fructose corn syrup.
Mix until well-blended.
Now, scoop the batter into the prepared cupcake tins. I used an ice cream scoop to do this — it’s much easier and less messy!
Fill the tins to about two-thirds full.
Pop into the oven, either the middle or top rack, and bake for about 25 minutes (maybe 30, depending on how hot your oven runs). Remove from the oven. Using a fork, lift the cupcakes from the tins and place on a rack to cool.
Vanilla Buttercream Frosting: While the cupcakes are cooling, make the frosting. Beat two sticks (1 full cup) of butter (I used one stick of salted butter and one stick of unsalted butter). Add 3 cups of sifted confectioner’s (powdered) sugar and slowly beat until blended. Add 1 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract, then 2 to 3 tablespoons of milk, one at a time, adding and beating continuously until the frosting is at the desired consistency.
Frost the cupcakes. Now (optional!), grate one bar of white chocolate and sprinkle it over the frosting. And voilà! You have strawberry jam cupcakes!
These were nice and light, with a great natural (though subtle) strawberry aroma and taste. The next time I make them, I will try using chunky strawberry preserves instead and perhaps swapping out granulated sugar for the light brown sugar to see what that does. But they went over well at the party, so that’s a good thing!