I don’t think I ever had fresh strawberries when I was growing up in Malaysia. The closest I ever got was the overly sweet jams that my mum religiously bought from the supermarket. That was the only purchase my mum would willingly make from the supermarket, the rest of our foodstuff came fresh (and sometimes still alive!) from the wet Market and local grocery shop.
It used to baffle me why my mother shunned away the convenience of pre-packed food and meat that no longer resembled the animals that they once were. We had to endure the 10 stack crabs, tied with raffia, lining the bottom half of wet Market stalls with their claws still snapping away at us.
It was not a rarity for me for find a bucket of water with catfish swimming in it in the bathroom, counting down to the time when my mum would get round to cooking them.
Then there was the pick your own chicken to have slaughtered and feathers plucked wet Market stall. I think this might be the subconscious reason why I shirk away from those build-a-teddybear shops. It’s like the same process, but in reverse.
My first real experience of strawberries was when I was on my teaching practice at a primary school in Petworth. As part of the school trip, we were invited to a livestock farm owned by the grandparents of one of the pupils. I can’t remember her name but I do remember contributing heftily towards her sponsored silence day.
Her grandfather referred to the livestock as ‘the beasts’ and I remember how I found that quite amusing. He recounted tales of when he lived in Malaysia and how he got into the habit of drinking copious amount of tea in the hot weather.
The teachers were treated to homemade scones with strawberries and clotted cream. They were truly what English summers were all about.
These cupcakes are a close second. I try to make the most of the abundance of English strawberries that are around in the summer and it always pays if you purée any surplus strawberries and freeze it.
What you don’t want is to make these cupcakes with insipidly pale and tasteless strawberries.
The recipe is from Sprinkles.
It says that it makes 12 but I find that in order to make nice, muffin sized ones, you will end up with around 9. I do whip the frosting a fair bit or else, it just simply wouldn’t pass through the piping nozzle. If you make the frosting ahead of time, you might find that the colour is a bit dusky. Don’t worry about this. Simply whip it again and the colour will return.