Quasi-Crafty: Strawberry Buttercream Jam Filled Cupcakes (Recipe + Tips)

I’m going to let you in on a little secret:  I am not a crafty bride.  I don’t have a stash of markers, hole punches, and tissue paper.  I definitely do not own a glue gun.  Yet, despite these limitations, occasionally I find myself wanting to recreate the gorgeous details of weddings that fill the blog world.  Enter the world of Quasi-Crafty projects.  Somewhat akin to a boxed cake-mix, these projects require little skill yet yield surprisingly close results to the real thing (and at lower cost!).   This series  will provide how-to’s to some of my own crafts & highlight those from other real weddings.  

Strawberry Buttercream Jam Filled Cupcakes

Considering baking cupcakes for some DIY-goodness at your next shower or wedding?  This weekend I co-hosted a bridal shower for one of my bridesmaids.  To celebrate with hungry guests we prepared a feast that included Strawberry Buttercream Jam Filled cupcakes.  Below you will find an incredibly easy yellow cupcake recipe, as well as 4 secrets to making your cupcakes look Pinterest-worthy.  

Strawberry Buttercream Jam Filled Cupcake

Strawberry Buttercream Jam Filled Cupcake

 

4 Secrets to Awe-Inspiring DIY Cupcakes:

1. Bake your Cupcakes.  For this project I recommend a classic yellow cupcake that’s dense enough to support a jam filling and a mound of frosting.  The recipe I posted below is a slightly modified version of one from a Fannie Farmer Baking cookbook.   It’s incredibly versatile, relies on just a few ingredients that most everyone has on hand.  Best of all, it’s written to only make 12 cupcakes – which is great when you (1) only have one cupcake pan, and (2) only need to feed 10-12 people.  

2. Fill them with Jam.  Seriously ignore everything that you see about “simple syrup” and “whipping egg whites until stiff peaks” and folding into ganache/mousse/etc.   Instead grab your favorite jar of jam (bonus points if it’s homemade or from a farmer’s market!)  Using either a paring knife or a cupcake corer (best registry gift ever!)  Everyone loves the surprise and no one realizes how insanely easy it is to scoop pre-made jam into a waiting cupcake.  

Strawberry Buttercream Cupcake with Jam Filling

Strawberry Buttercream Cupcake with Jam Filling

3. Tint your frosting.  You can naturally tint buttercream frosting by adding 2-4 tbsp of your favorite jam (the same jam you just used in the filling!)  Simply cream the butter, add the powdered sugar and then add the jam last.  Beautiful, natural, slightly flavored buttercream is incredibly impressive for very little effort.

4. Use Frosting Tips & Bags.  This part is key to presentation.  An inexpensive decorating set can make the difference between awe-inspiring results and those that elicit comments a la ” it’s the taste that counts!” I use these, but you can find them cheaper at Michael’s (make sure to print off and bring in the 40% coupon).  

Versatile Yellow Cupcake Recipe  

This cupcake will be dense and moist.  It’s great because it works every time, holds up well to fillings, and needs so little time and ingredients. 

  1. 1/2 Cup butter, room temp (read: leave it on the counter for 10 minutes)
  2. 2/3 C White Sugar
  3. 3 Large Eggs
  4. 1 teaspoon Vanilla extract
  5. 1 1/2 C All Purpose Flour + 1/4 teaspoon salt + 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  6. 1/4 C Milk

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Line a regular muffin pan with liners.  

Strawberry Buttercream Cupcake with Sugar Pearls

Strawberry Buttercream Cupcake with Sugar Pearls

Place the butter and sugar into the mixing bowl and cream until a smooth, light-colored, fluffy consistency.  Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each one.  Add the vanilla extract. Add 1/3 of the flour mixture (the flour + salt + baking powder) until combined.  Alternate adding milk and flour, both starting and ending with flour.  (For me this took three rounds with the flour divided into thirds and the milk in half.) 

Spread evenly into muffin pans and bake until golden and a wooden pick inserted in center of a cupcake comes out clean, 17-20 minutes.  Cool on a wire rack (or just your counter) and frost when finished.  I like this buttercream icing recipe (just add the jam near the end).  Once cool core the cupcake, fill with jam and decorate using icing, sprinkles, and sugar pearls.


Tips for a Bridal Shower & Rethinking Your Options!

A couple of weeks ago I celebrated my bridal shower with my Mom, future mother-in-law and many of my good friends.  Like many brides, I had visions of a fun-filled afternoon celebrating in my favorite restaurant.   My maid-of-honor and I were balancing budget concerns with our desire to have awesome food & a great location!  Luckily for us, we were able to rethink our options to give us the experience we both wanted – hopefully they will help you with your own planning! 

4 Tips for Creating Your Perfect Shower:

1.  Be flexible with your timing.  If your favorite restaurant is also not open during lunch hours, it’s worth it to ask if you could be accommodated during the mid-late afternoon, when they will be setting up for dinner.  We were fortunate to have access to Acme Food & Beverage Company, an absolutely fantastic southern-infused restaurant.  Normally Acme doesn’t host private events during the day, but we were able to work with them to accommodate us during the hours of 1:30-3:30.  (Mainly, we just had to be flexible that there would be servers moving about in different parts of the restaurant!)

2.  Rethink your dessert.  Yes, you could go with the restaurant provided dessert.  But this may not be the best option, both logistically and budget-wise.   First,  if you’ve talked a restaurant into accommodating you at an off-time, then they may not be able to provide dessert.  Second, a dessert that your guest can take on the go provides flexibility for those that may be full from lunch!  Third, bringing in your dessert may be a cost-effective way to lower the price at a restaurant that typically offers prix fixe menus.  By eliminating the dessert course and substituting in a more cost-effective – and adorable one! – you might be able to afford the restaurant/location of your bridal shower dreams. :-)

For us, bringing in cupcakes allowed us to host at Acme and still provide a dessert.  We offered cupcakes from DaisyCakes - an awesome, local business in Durham, NC.  This was a great way for people to enjoy their dessert either at Acme (or take it with them, for those who were full!) and was easy to set-up, as no plates/knives/forks are really necessary.   And they were not only delicious, but adorable!

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3.  The food!  Trust your vendors.  If you are working with a top-rated vendor – such as your favorite restaurant – then you know they will produce an excellent product.  Give them some guidelines (I like pimento cheese! I like southern! Vegetarian, please!) but allow them to work their mastery.  Most likely you’ll be wowed by what they are able to do with your budget.  This is also a great way to make your own proposal to a restaurant  - give them your budget, and see what they come up with

Here’s what we got when we put our trust in their expertise:  Biscuits with sauteed apples and pork belly, bacon-wrapped scallops, grits with craw-fish and sausage, and crostini topped with a fried green tomato and house-made pimento cheese were but some of the highlights.   Yummm!!!!

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4. The best part of a bridal shower is the opportunity to catch-up, laugh, and enjoy the company of your best girlfriends.  Make sure you have plenty of downtime - there’s no need to fill every minute with a game or activity.  

Need Inspiration for Bridal Shower Decor? How about: 

Bridal Shower Flowers

Bridal Shower Flowers - perfect for an afternoon tea!