A classic but a refined classic with a lot of class, from Rachel's new series.
- 125 g (41/2 oz) butter, softened
- 200 g (7oz) caster sugar
- 3 eggs
- 150 ml (5fl oz) milk
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 300 g (11oz) plain flour
- 3 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp salt
- for the icing
- 150 g (5oz) fresh (or frozen and defrosted) strawberries
- 1 tblsp lemon juice
- 175 g (6oz) butter, softened
- 600 g (1lb 5oz) icing sugar, sifted
- strawberries, halved, to decorate
- 12-cup muffin tray and 12 muffin cases
- Preheat the oven to 160°C (325°F/Gas 3), and line the muffin tray with the paper cases.
- Cream the butter until soft in a large bowl or in an electric food mixer. Add the sugar and beat until the mixture is light and fluffy.
- Whisk the eggs together in a small bowl for a few seconds just until mixed, then gradually add them to the creamed butter mixture, beating all the time. Beat in the milk, followed by the vanilla extract, then sift in the flour, baking powder and salt and fold in gently to combine.
- Divide the mixture between the muffin cases, filling each case about two-thirds full. Bake for 20–25 minutes or until well risen, lightly golden in colour and springy to the touch.
- Allow to cool for 5 minutes, then remove from the tin and place on a wire rack to cool completely. While the cupcakes are cooking, or while they are cooling down, make the icing.
- Place the strawberries and lemon juice in a food processor and whiz for about a minute to purée them. Push through a sieve into a bowl, then set aside.
- In a separate bowl, cream together the butter and icing sugar until combined, then gradually add the fruit purée, beating continuously.
- Spread the icing onto the cooled cupcakes using a palette knife or the back of a spoon, or pipe the icing onto the cakes and decorate each cake with half a strawberry.
Rachel's tip: Try replacing the strawberries for the icing with the same quantity of raspberries, blackberries or blueberries – which can be either fresh or frozen (and then defrosted). If using blackberries or blueberries the colour will no longer be pink but a lovely purple shade. Decorate each cake with a blackberry, raspberry or blueberry. (Note: stock image, Thinkstock)