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)