These cupcakes are pretty, pink, and light as clouds. I use fruit purée in the batter and freeze dried strawberries whipped into a classic cream cheese frosting to give them their rosy color. As a result, every bite is a berry lover’s dream come true!
In a food process or blender, puree 1 pound strawberries (you should have about 1 cup).
In a small saucepan over medium-low heat, simmer puree until reduced by half, 25 to 30 minutes (you should have about 1/2 cup). Chill completely before adding to batter.
For the Strawberry Cupcakes:
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line two 12-cup cupcake pans with paper liners.
Sift together cake flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
Using a standing mixer fit with the whisk attachment, cream together butter and sugar on high speed until pale and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Scrape down the sides and beater as necessary.
Add the egg whites and continue to beat on high until incorporated, about 2 minutes. Add sour cream and vanilla, scrape down sides and beater as necessary, and beat until combined.
Reduce speed to low. Add dry ingredients in 3 batches, beating after each addition, until just incorporated. Add milk and beat until just combined (do not overmix).
By hand, whisk in 1/2 cup of reduced strawberry puree, making sure there are no lumps at the bottom of the bowl. The batter will be slightly thick. If desired, stir in a drop of food coloring. Fill cupcake pans 2/3 full with batter.
Bake for 20-22 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean with a few crumbs attached. Cool completely in pans set on a wire rack.
For the Strawberry Cream Cheese Frosting:
In a food processor or blender, process dried strawberries until finely ground (you should have about 1/2 cup). Set aside.
In a standing mixer fit with the paddle attachment, or with an electric mixer, beat cream cheese and butter on high speed for 1 minute, until smooth and creamy.
Add powdered sugar, finely ground dried strawberries, 1 tablespoon milk, and vanilla. Beat on medium-high speed until creamy and smooth.
Add another tablespoon of milk if desired to thin. Taste and add a pinch of salt or more as desired. Frost cooled cupcakes.
To substitute for cake flour: measure 1 cup of all-purpose flour. Remove 2 Tablespoons. Mix in 2 Tablespoons of cornstarch. Sift it. Measure 1 cup. This sifted 1 cup equals 1 cup of cake flour. I suggest doing this 3x, then remove 1/2 cup since you need 2 and 1/2 cups in this recipe.The cake layers can be baked, cooled, and covered tightly at room temperature overnight. Likewise, the frosting can be prepared then covered and refrigerated overnight. Light it sit at room temperature to slightly soften for 10 minutes before assembling and frosting. Frosted cake can be frozen up to 2 months if you have room in the freezer. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator and bring to room temperature before serving.To bake in a 9x13 pan: Simply pour the batter into a greased and lightly floured 9x13 pan and bake for 40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.To bake in 9-inch cake pans: Grease and lightly flour two 9-inch cake pans. Pour batter evenly into cake pans. Bake for around 24-25 minutes or until the cakes are baked through. To assemble and frost: First, using a large serrated knife, slice a thin layer off the tops of the cakes to create a flat surface. Discard (or crumble over ice cream!). Place 1 cake layer on your cake stand or serving plate. Evenly cover the top with frosting. Top with 2nd layer and spread the remaining frosting all over the top and sides. Refrigerate for at least 45 minutes before slicing. This helps the cake keep its shape when cutting-- it could slightly fall apart without time in the fridge.Adapted from Sally's Baking Addiction.