Vanilla Cupcakes with Raspberry Curd

Summer is finally here! I was so excited when I went shopping this week and I saw beautiful raspberries on special - finally! Not only that, but all the vibrant, colourful fruits are in season - yay! 

What I love about this time of year is although life gets busier and busier, for those of us blessed to live in the southern hemisphere, we have the beautiful weather on our side. This itself, brings plenty of opportunities to relax whether it by the beach, in a park under a tree with a book, sipping coffee or at a local cafe.

So, on that note I would like to encourage you to take some time out in your day - whether it be in your lunch break, or by getting up a little earlier now morning, to find an opportunity to relax and take in nature and the beauty around you. Ponder on the people, moments, and things you are thankful for - and remember to tell someone you love how much they mean to you. Why not bake a batch of these cupcakes for your friends and family? And be creative! Use colours and flavours that inspire you - just as I was inspired by the vibrancy of the summer berries.

The juicy berries inspired me to modify this vanilla cupcake recipe with a spoonful of fresh raspberry curd in the centre. I added vanilla bean in the cupcake and the buttercream. The key to successful cupcakes is not to rush and to be delicate with the mixture. Don't overbeat, instead, relax, follow the recipe step by step, enjoy the process and you will get beautifully light cupcakes with an even crumb. It is also important to ensure the butter and eggs are at room temperature. This recipe has been my go-to recipe and personally I can't fault it! 

Vanilla Cupcakes with Raspberry Curd

Serves 24

For the cupcakes...

200g salt-reduced butter, softened

1 3/4 cups caster sugar

2 3/4 cups plain flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

4 eggs, at room temperature

1 cup milk

1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste

For the buttercream icing...

200g salt-reduced butter

1/2 cup milk

1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste (or 1 vanilla bean)

8 cups icing sugar, sifted

Pink food colouring (optional)

Fresh raspberries to serve

For the raspberry curd...

1 1/2 cups fresh or frozen raspberries

1/4 cup caster sugar

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1 tablespoon water

1 egg yolk

1 tablespoon cornflour

1 1/2 teaspoons butter

1. For the raspberry curd, combine raspberries, sugar, lemon juice and water in a small saucepan over medium heat. Bring mixture to the boil, reduce heat and simmer for about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and pass mixture through a fine sieve. 

2. Rinse and wipe pan clean. Returned the strained mixture to the pan. Whisk together egg yolk and cornflour. Add this to the raspberry mixture and whisk together for about 5 minutes until thickened. Add butter and stir until smooth. 

3. Pour curd into a small bowl, cover with plastic wrap (ensuring plastic touches the curd to prevent skin from developing on the surface). Refrigerate for about 2 hours until cool.

4. For the cupcakes, preheat oven to 170˚C and line 2 muffin trays with cupcake liners.

5. Cream butter in a bowl for about 2 minutes, until pale. Gradually add the sugar, a third at a time, beating for about 1 minute after each addition. Continue beating until mixture is light and fluffy.

6. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour and baking powder. Set aside.

7. Add eggs one at a time to butter mixture, beating well after each addition or until mixture is light and fluffy. Add the vanilla bean paste or extract and combine.

8. On low speed, gradually add half the sifted flour to the butter mixture. Add half the milk and beat until combined. Repeat this process until combined, ensuring you do not over-beat the mixture.

9. Spoon mixture into cupcake liners - about 3/4 full. Bake for 20 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean once inserted. Remove from oven, and allow cupcakes to cool on a a wire rack before icing.

10. For the buttercream icing, cream butter in a bowl until for 2 minutes. Add the milk, vanilla bean, and a quarter of the icing sugar. Beat until combined. Gradually add remaining icing sugar and beat for about 3 minutes, until mixture is light and fluffy. Add extra milk if mixture is too dry, or more icing sugar if it is too wet. 

11. To decorate cupcakes, first of all scoop out a small amount of cake from the top centre of each cupcake. Fill each hole with a spoonful of raspberry curd. If you would like, divide the icing into two bowls. Add a small amount of pink food colouring to half the mixture and stir with a spatula (I didn't combine it completely as I wanted to create a marble effect). Place icing into piping bags and pipe onto the top of the cupcakes as desired, ensuring the raspberry curd is completely covered. Decorate with fresh raspberries and enjoy. 

Keeps for 2-3 days in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Remove from refrigerator about 30 minutes before serving.