There is a great deal in the press and on social media about the evils of sugar – and I agree! Drinking cans of soft drink with the equivalent of 10 teaspoons of sugar, consuming large amounts of confectionary full of sugar and colouring and precious little else, or gorging on commercial cakes and biscuits that add trans fats to high sugar loadings is not doing any of us any good. And don’t get me started on hidden sugars in items like breakfast cereals, and sugars that go under other names like maltodextrin or corn syrup!
Having said this I am also strongly of the view that a little of something usually ain’t going to kill you and may in fact be good for the body and the spirit – everything in moderation – and homemade sweet treats that have real ingredients like butter and eggs and fruit, and that share the ten teaspoons of sugar amongst of group of people who are enjoying each others company are part of a life well lived!
The other night we were hosting a committee meeting where most were coming straight from work, some from a day spent outdoors and I wanted something to start the evening along with a hot drink. The fridge yielded the end of a punnet of strawberries and bottled cherries left over from making pineapple upside down cake last weekend so strawberry and cherry cupcakes were the upshot.
If I am tossing something like this together I tend to default to a fairly standard cake batter – the one I used for the pineapple upside down cake! So if you are interested head on over and get the details there. The same quantities that made the cake will make 12 cupcakes. The recipe refers to using the juice from the tinned pineapple – I still had some left in the fridge so used that but I could equally have used straight milk – or almond milk.
Once the cake batter was made I added about a cup of hulled, washed and diced strawberries and stirred them in to the mix. I lined a muffin tray with patty cake liners and divided the mixture amongst them, being sparing to start with – they need to be about half filled as they will rise as they cook – once all twelve have filling you can go back an distribute the remainder to those that might look a little light on. I popped a cherry on the top of each and put the tray in a 200°C oven for six minutes then turned it around for another six. Once cooked the cake will spring back to the touch and should be golden but not over brown. If necessary give it another couple of minutes. If you are worried as to whether the mixture is cooked test it with a skewer that should come out clean. The cherries tend to disappear sinking into the mix and forming a hidden taste bomb!
Once cooked remove from the oven and allow to cool on a wire rack – if you haven’t got one the grill tray in most ovens works well. You have to keep an eye on these guys as they tend to sprout legs and walk off with passing sons, daughters and other interested parties – muffled yelps will expose culprits sneaking hot cake when they bite into the cherry! These can be served warm with cream or ice cream or just as is but are also good cold and can make their way into a lunch box if they survive that long! For us they were a plate of sweet treats to start the brains working – food on our committee meeting table – less the couple that got away!
While these were strawberry and cherry they could equally, and often have been, apple or blueberry, raspberry, orange … the principle stays the same – depends on what the fridge and the fruit bowl offer up as generally this sort of baking is unplanned in our household, happening as the spirit moves me! Please do share your experiences if you experiment …