This cake is soft and tender and studded with strawberries. I could eat it on its own, sans frosting, any time of the day.
The recipe is adapted from The Flourishing Foodie‘s Coconut Cake. I’ve made Heather’s Coconut Cake several times; it’s delicious, and especially impressive for birthdays. I sometimes fill the layers with jam or citrus curd instead of the frosting, and I’ve poured cajeta over the top of the cake, or covered it with fruit. —Cristina Sciarra
Test Kitchen Notes
No icing's necessary! You can eat these plain or with icing as dessert. Two cupcakes were "stolen" prior to icing, as my son thought it was a strawberry muffin. The actual cupcake stands on its own: moist and sweet, but light. The icing was a bit thin for my preference in a buttercream icing. Overall, the coconut gets a little lost in the strawberry flavor, but the end result is fantastic. Everyone enjoyed them. —Lisa Shank
For the cake:
(230 grams) strawberries, hulled
(200 grams) + 1 tablespoon sugar
(8 tablespoons/113 grams) unsalted butter, softened
large eggs, at room temperature
(135 grams) flour
(3 grams) baking powder
(100 grams) coconut milk
For the frosting:
(5 1/2 tablespoons/70 grams) unsalted butter, softened
Heat the oven to 350° F/176° C. Line a 12-cupcake tin with paper baking cups.
In a medium bowl, toss the strawberries with 1 tablespoon of the sugar. Let sit for 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, in a large mixing bowl, using an electric mixer, cream the butter with the remaining sugar until fluffy, about 5 minutes on medium speed. Add the eggs and stir to combine. In a separate small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Add the dry ingredients to the mixing bowl, followed by the coconut milk, vanilla extract, and lemon zest. Blend on low speed, until the batter is smooth.
By now, the strawberries should have softened under the sugar. Using the back of a fork, smush the strawberries into a rough purée. Stir the strawberry mix into the batter. (The strawberry purée should equal 1 scant cup/215 grams.) Divide the batter evenly between the baking cups. Bake the cupcakes for 30 to 35 minutes, or until the tops are golden and a knife comes out clean. Out of the oven, allow the cupcakes to cool for 10 minutes before moving them to a rack to finish cooling, another 30 minutes.
For the frosting:
Using an electric mixer on medium-high speed, beat the butter with the cream cheese, about 3 minutes. Add the sugar, and beat another 2 minutes. Add the vanilla, coconut milk, and lemon zest; mix just until combined. (You can make the frosting up to 4 days ahead and store it, covered, in the fridge.)
When the cupcakes are cool, top each each with frosting. If desired, decorate the top of each cupcake with extra strawberries, shredded coconut, or lemon zest.
Cristina is a writer, cook, and day job real estate developer. She studied literature, holds an MFA in Fiction Writing, and completed the Basic Cuisine course at Le Cordon Bleu in Paris. She lives in Jersey City with her husband--a Frenchman she met in Spain--and their sweet black cat, Minou. Follow her writings, recipes, publications and photography at theroamingkitchen.com.