Monday, July 29, 2013

Blueberry Peach Cupcakes

Tis the season for fresh produce here in Wisconsin.  I’m very fortunate to live in an area that offers a great variety of orchards, farms and frequent farmer’s markets.  

This weekend we visited a Cain’s Orchard (http://www.cainsorchard.com/).  My first trip to Cain's was 4 years ago with my mother and a friend.  We drove up from our home and made it there in time for the 7:00 a.m bell ringing.  Cain's asks that you not start picking until the bell rings (you can, however, start tasting).  The bell rings and all you can hear around you is the sound of blueberries plopping into buckets.  We had such an awesome time that I was really excited to go back.  I've been there once since then, and again this weekend. I can't even begin to tell you how much I love Cain's.  They offer a U-Pick operation featuring 9 varieties over 20 impeccably clean acres.  





The price for blueberries this year was $1.45/lb.  Stop....read that again.  PER POUND.  In my area, I can go and get blueberries at the store in the pint containers but I rarely see them less than $2.  The best price I think I may have ever seen on blueberries was $1.30-1.50 per pint.  I did a little digging online and the general consensus is that those packs from the store generally weigh 11-12 ounces (so about 3/4 of a pound).  There used to be a much larger margin in price difference but the cost of everything just keeps rising.  While we did have to pay for gas to get there (and we stopped for breakfast at the Timber Valley Restaurant in the Hixton Travel Plaza for breakfast and FARM FRESH EGGS-which I love), I still consider the experience to be fun and worthwhile.  

While cruising around, looking for garage sales with the boyfriend's sister and my good friend, we stumbled across a roadside vendor selling peaches.  The boyfriend's sister and I got a bushel for $28 and split it.  Looking online, it seems like we made a good choice but I have to admit that once I got into the box I was a little disappointed to see how many were a little abused.  But I decided to push forward.  

I needed to make something and I wanted to incorporate both peaches and blueberries.  Here's what I ended up with: Blueberry curd filled peach cupcakes with blueberry buttercream frosting.  I didn't have a pastry injector, so I used a bag with a tip.  I didn't get as much curd in the cupcakes and I would have liked.  I think I'll definitely be looking into one in the near future.  Yum.


Under fluorescent lighting at work




Fresh at home




The Inside


This is the recipe I used.  It is modified from the recipe I found at A Spoon Full of Sugar:  http://sweetannieskitchenblog.wordpress.com/2013/06/04/peach-cupcakes-with-peach-buttercream/

Cupcakes  (yeilds about 24 cupcakes)
2-2 ½ cups unbleached white flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
¾ cup sugar
1 cup fresh peach puree
½ cup vegetable oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/3 cup water
1/3 cup Peach Schnaaps 
2 tablespoons vinegar
Yellow and Red Food Coloring

Preheat oven to 375°F. Line a muffin tin.  I used my mixer so I mixed together dry ingredients in a bowl on the side.  Mix together the peach puree, oil, water, schnaaps and vanilla. Add dry ingredients to the peach mixture and mix until combined - I added about 5-6 drops of yellow and some red food coloring for a brighter color.  When the batter is smooth, add the vinegar and keep mixing.  There will be some foaming where the baking soda and vinegar are reacting to each other.  Mix until everything is distributed evenly. Pour batter into muffin tins, and bake for about 20 minutes.  Allow to cool completely. 


Blueberry Curd
(photo by Jen Perez at www.beantownbaker.com)

I followed this recipe for blueberry curd from Beantown Baker exactly  (http://www.beantownbaker.com/2012/02/blueberry-curd.html).  I think I may have overcooked it slightly, but it was perfect!  I didn't get enough into the cupcakes, which I'm a little unhappy about but glad because I'll be eating this on everything I can think of for awhile.

1 cup blueberries
1 Tbsp water
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup butter
3 eggs, lightly beaten

Put blueberries and water in saucepan and cook over low heat until blueberries are very soft, about 10 minutes.

Press mixture through a fine mesh sieve and put liquid back into saucepan off of the heat. Stir everything together and cook on medium-low heat, stirring constantly until mixture is thickened, about 5 minutes. The curd will continue to thicken as it cools.


Blueberry Buttercream
Buttercream and I have a complicated relationship.  I'm apparently very good at making it, but I don't always love the flavor.  I search the internet looking for a recipe and I couldn't find anything that looked quite like what I wanted so I had to go it alone. Here's my recipe:

2 sticks butter, softened to room temperature
4 cups confectioners' sugar
Pinch fine grain sea salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 to 1 cup fresh blueberries, pureed with 1 tablespoon water and strained
1-3 Tablespoons very cold milk

In a large bowl, cream butter until fluffy.  Slowly add confectioners' sugar and continue beating.

Add salt, vanilla, and strained blueberry puree and mix until well combined.  I like the look of the skins, so I added a little bit of the strained skins into the mix, but you can omit this for a prettier cupcake.  If the buttercream is too thick, slowly drizzle in milk until you reach the desired consistency (I used about 2 tablespoons).  Beat at high speed until smooth and fluffy.