Elisa’s “From Scratch” Baking Experiment: Basil with Strawberry Filling Cupcakes

Finding new and interesting cupcake concoctions to try baking has been a fun journey. This month, knowing that I’d be sharing my baking experiment with real bakers and fellow cupcake lovers at our first Cupcake Picnic made me very nervous. I trekked on though, and after help from Jenn and Stacy on flavor ideas, I decided to create a basil cupcake with a strawberry filling and a buttercream icing.

Basil is one of my favorite herbs to cook with, and baking with unusual ingredients (like my first experiment with Lavender) is a challenge I love taking on. After searching to no avail for a simple basil cake recipe, I settled on this recipe and decided to leave out the lemon. The strawberry filling was another hurdle, but I found a great “filling” recipe on Wilton’s website. As for the icing, I decided to use the knowledge I’ve gained from my past baking experiments to create my own icing recipe: 1cup butter, 8 oz cream cheese, 4.5 cups confectioners sugar, 1.5 tsp vanilla extract. I gathered my ingredients and was set to bake!

Making the basil sugar was really fun and the batter was a beautiful yellow color with green specs floating throughout. After strictly following the directions for baking, I let them cool while I made the strawberry filling. It seemed odd to use corn starch for a fruit filling recipe, but it really worked well with the organic strawberries I received as part of my CSA, and created a bright red filling. I then cut the plugs out so that I could fill the cupcakes.

This was my first taste of the cake, and WOW, was it good! Sweet and savory, light and moist, herby, but not grassy tasting, I was very excited. I even saved the “plugs” to eat later because they were that good. Then I filled them with the cooled strawberry filling and worked on creating my icing.

Using my fancy piping tips, I piped on the very light icing to complete this baking experiment. As I am still am amateur piper, some turned out cute and some were a little off, but overall they looked pretty good. Stacy and Jenn agreed that I should freeze them overnight in an airtight container so that they would be nice and fresh for the picnic on Saturday. (Thanks to them both for helping me figure out the best way to keep them perfectly fresh and yummy!)

I took 12 cupcakes to work (I made 24 total) – as my co-workers tend to be the first people to try my experiments, so I wanted to get their reactions before I took the cupcakes to the picnic. They seemed to be a big hit, which gave me the confidence boost I needed to take the rest of the cupcakes to the picnic with my head held high.

Eating one myself was the true test though, and I’d say that this experiment was a complete success. I love the subtle but sweet flavors of the cake, filling, and icing – this is definitely a cupcake I will bake again! The more I bake, the more I want to bake, so now I can’t wait for the next challenge… who knows what crazy flavors we’ll come up with!

– Posted by Cupcake Crusader, Elisa (Baltimore, MD)


Our DC Cupcake Picnic Recap!

Enjoying cupcakes, relaxing in the beautiful weather, and gathering with people who share a similar interest was what our first ever cupcake picnic was all about. This past Saturday the Crusaders, with the help from Joel (AKA: the Cupcake King) of Josie’s Confections, organized a cupcake picnic in Georgetown Waterfront Park. It was only a small gathering but it was filled with TONS of cupcakes and good times.

We were lucky enough to land a spot in the shade under a tree, and slowly everyone arrived. The group included us three Crusaders, my dad, Joel, Lamorea from That’s So Morie Cupcakes and her family, and fellow cupcake lover, Danielle, and her boyfriend.

(Candid shot of our some of our attendees. From the left going clockwise: my dad admiring Lamorea’s to-go wrapping for each of her cupcakes; Lamorea’s little girl (she’s so cute!); Lamorea going through her photos; happy cupcake eater, Charles; Crusader Jenn; and our youngest Crusader, Jenn’s daughter, Leah.)

After chatting for a few minutes, it was time to dive into the cupcakes! Joel, from Josie’s Confections, brought his signature Chicken N Waffle cupcake, as well as Salted Caramel minis, Strawberry Lemonade (which won the 4th place for People’s Choice at the NCACS’s Cupcake Challenge), and Maple Bacon.

(The AMAZING Chicken N Waffle cupcake! For information on ordering this cupcake call Joel at 301-541-7046, email him at joelegill@gmail.com or visit Josie’s Confections Facebook page.)

(Strawberry Lemonade with strawberry filling and candied lemon peels! For information on ordering this cupcake call Joel at 301-541-7046, email him at joelegill@gmail.com or visit Josie’s Confections Facebook page.)

Lamorea, from That’s So Morie Cupcakes, brought a big assortment of cupcakes all individual wrapped up and tied with a ribbon. She came totally prepared for people to take cupcakes home with them! Among her flavors were Pina Colada, Simply Strawberry, Chocolate Chocolate, and Citrus in the City.

(Alcohol Free Pina Colada all wrapped up! For more information on this cupcake call Lamorea at 443-603-8060, email her at Thatssomoriecupcakes@yahoo.com, or visit her Facebook page or website.)

(Citrus in the City! For more information on this cupcake call Lamorea at 443-603-8060, email her at Thatssomoriecupcakes@yahoo.com, or visit her Facebook page or website.)

Other cupcakes present included another Strawberry Lemonade, a variety from Red Velvet Cupcakery, an assortment from the Giant Bakery, and the Crusaders’ contributions: Mojito (me), Mocha Brownie (Jenn), and Strawberry Basil (Elisa).

(From top center moving clockwise: Strawberry Lemonade from Josie’s Confections; Chocolate Chocolate from That’s So Morie Cupcakes; Mocha Brownie from Crusader Jenn, Mojito from me; and Maple Bacon from Josie’s Confections.)

(Cupcakes scattered all over the place!)

(More cupcakes! They were everywhere!)

While we always enjoy eating cupcakes and chatting, the fun really started when Danielle said that she would still like the challenge of eating five cupcakes for the cupcake eating competition. She was the only one who stepped up in advance so we told her the prize was hers, but she was determined to earn her prize fair and square.

(It’s all smiles before you reach the 5th cupcake! She did a great job and was such a good sport!)

About halfway through Danielle’s challenge, the Cupcake King, Joel, decided he wanted to see what he could manage. Since he helped us put together the prize pack, he was entering the contest purely to take his title of Cupcake King to the next level.

(Joel smiled most of the way through, before hitting the more challenging chocolate cupcakes. But he still came out on top and decimated all 5 cupcakes!)

It was like witnessing an episode of Man Vs. Food in person. They both did an amazing job! Danielle put down 4.5 cupcakes is 5 minutes (at first she wasn’t focusing on her time so much, but picked up the pace as soon as Joel decided to join the fun) and Joel ate 5 cupcakes in 3 minutes and 45 seconds. He truly has earned his title, Cupcake King.

We couldn’t have asked for a better first picnic and we are really looking forward to the next two in our series. Sunday, July 29th we will be meeting at the Westminster Community Pond in Westminster, MD and on Saturday, August 25th we’ll meet in Patterson Park in Baltimore, MD. For more information click here. We hope you can join us and make those cupcake picnics just as memorable as this one in Georgetown Waterfront Park was!

– Posted by Cupcake Crusader, Stacy (Baltimore, MD)

We want to give a special THANK YOU to Joel, The Cupcake King, from Josie’s Confections for helping us organize this month’s Cupcake Picnic. He searched for the perfect location, helped us brainstorm activities, and even contributed nice Wilton products for the prize pack. Thanks Cupcake King! 🙂