Fennel, which is the spice for Wednesdays…smelling of changes to come
– Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni
Did you ever eat Blackjacks ’til your tongue turned black when you were a kid? Tearing open that familiar wrapper, you could always smell the aniseed/liquorice flavour before tasting it. And that flavour made it nearly impossible to have just one, right? Well these days I don’t eat too many sweets, but if I want that distinct aniseed taste, then fennel is what I’d reach for. Until recently, I’d quite forgotten about this vegetable until I read 10 Wonderful Ways With Fennel on the Reader’s Digest. The orange ice cream combo was what stood out to me, with it being Summer and that (apparently). Orange and fennel is a really nice combo, as is chocolate and orange (Terry’s chocolate springs to mind). So what about chocolate, orange and fennel?
It’s nearly June and strawberry season is rolling into town. I love walking down the food aisles and seeing rows and rows of fresh strawberries. The memories of warm Summer evenings relaxing outside with family, eating strawberries with freshly whipped cream…gorgeous! Here in the UK we really appreciate when the weather is great, so I’m hoping to make more memories this Summer, with these vanilla and strawberry buttercream frosting cupcakes.
I can’t believe I’ve been blogging for almost a year now! I feel like I’ve really come a long way since last May, but I’ll save that for a later date. Right now, I’m in cupcake mode. This is the first time I’ve actually blogged a cupcake recipe, which is quite unbelievable because I love them! I baked these over the bank holiday weekend and by Sunday night they were all gone – devoured by my eager testers and given the thumbs up. It’s such a buzz when people say they love one of your bakes, isn’t it? I originally tried to make the buttercream with fresh strawberry puree, but I wasn’t happy with the results at all. Take two was with my favourite strawberry jam (Mackays) and although the buttercream doesn’t look as pink as it did with the puree, it tastes a lot better!! A couple of drops of food colouring will sort that out next time around! There are little bits of jam you can see in the buttercream as well, but if this look doesn’t appeal, then simply use a smooth jam instead.
- 175g unsalted butter, softened
- 175g caster sugar
- 3 large eggs
- 175g plain flour
- 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- pinch of salt
- 200g unsalted butter, softened
- pinch of salt
- 225g icing sugar, sifted
- 3 heapful tbsp strawberry jam
- 2 tbsp double cream
- Preheat your oven to 180c and prepare a cupcake tin with 12 cases.
- Using an electric mixer, beat the butter and sugar together until pale and creamy.
- Slowly add in the eggs - one at a time, then sift in the flour, baking powder, salt and vanilla until well combined (fold in and don't over-mix).
- Fill each of the 10 cupcake cases with the batter (about two thirds full) and bake for 20 minutes or until golden brown and just firm to the touch. Remove from the oven and let them cool on a wire rack.
- Using an electric mixer, beat the butter and salt together until smooth and creamy. Then slowly sift in half of the icing sugar, 1 tbsp of double cream and continue to mix. Then add the rest of the icing sugar, along with 1 tbsp of double cream and 3 heapful tbsp of strawberry jam. Mix until it is thick and creamy. Add a splash more double cream if it is too thick for your taste.
- Once the cupcakes have cooled completely, pipe the buttercream frosting around the cupcakes and top with a fresh strawberry.
And if you are looking for more fruity cupcake recipes, there are some great ones posted by my fellow food bloggers. Check out these amazing offerings:
Apple Cupcakes with Maple Syrup Frosting – Penne For Your Thoughts
Chocolate, Raspberry & Hazelnut Cupcakes – Jen’s Food
Blackberry and Apple Cupcakes – Tin and Thyme