Perfect Apple Cupcakes

My colleague and office mate at Fenway High School left recently and in typical fashion I baked something.  Emily and I have shared an office for the past couple of years and we are both type A hard workers.  We got to know each other over many chats about our nephews, her recent engagement and food.  Even with all the chat we still got a lot of work done. 🙂

I don’t know if I have really talked all that much about Fenway here on the blog.  When I decided to leave the restaurant industry I was confident that I could make a transition back into fundraising and so that is where I started my job search.  I interviewed at a health organization and Fenway High School.  I sometimes wish that I had looked for a job that is a little more directly related to food, but have been so happy at Fenway that this thought is few and far between.

Fenway High School is a Boston Public Pilot School (like a charter BUT NOT A CHARTER).  We receive a budget allocation from BPS that covers salaries and about $1,500 worth of supplies, the rest is raised through private funding  (that is what my job is).  Fenway High School’s mission is to create a socially committed and morally responsible community of learners that values its students as individuals. Fenway’s goal is to encourage academic excellence and to develop intellectual habits of mind, self-esteem, and leadership skills among all students.  Our student body is ethnically, socio economically and in terms of academic achievement very diverse. Over 70% of our students qualify for free and reduced lunch. Students apply to attend and admission is based on a very broad list of criteria, but the goal is to have a student population that mirrors the whole district.

Some of the things I enjoy most about Fenway is the focus on community and social responsibility.  The school motto is “Work Hard. Be Yourself. Do the Right Thing.”  Students have really close relationships with their teachers and the Head of School, they feel supported and often describe Fenway as their second family.  I have recently been working on a project related to our school cafeteria (we will be moving to a new building next fall with a brand new kitchen).  It has been fun to reconnect with some friends from the food industry and use some of my food and cooking knowledge to lead the project.

It was back in October when I had a fresh bag of farm apples in my fridge so the decision to make these cupcakes was easy.  I thought apples where a good way to symbolize our work at school as well as a cozy way to send Emily off to her next endeavor.

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Perfect Apple Cupcakes
adapted from Martha Stewart and Flour Bakery

For the cupcakes:
2 1/4 cups whole wheat pastry flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon salt
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 cups coarsely shredded apples, I used Macoun

For the frosting:
2/3 cup granulated sugar
2 large egg white
1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) salted butter, room temperature and cut into 2 inch chunks
1/2 package of cream cheese softened (you can add a bit more if you want more cream cheese flavor)
1 2/3 cup powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line two standard muffin tins with paper liners; set aside. Whisk together flour, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt in a medium bowl; set aside. Cream butter and sugar on medium-high speed in the bowl of a mixer fitted with the paddle until pale and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Mix in eggs and vanilla.Reduce speed to low; mix in apples. Add flour mixture; mix, scraping down sides of bowl as needed, until just combined. Fill lined cups halfway with batter; bake until tops are springy to the touch, 18 to 20 minutes. Remove from tins; let cool on a wire rack.

Make frosting: In a heat proof bowl, whisk granulated sugar and egg whites together. Place over a pot of simmering water and continue to whisk for 3-5 minutes, until mixture is hot to the touch and thinned. Remove from heat and pour into the bowl of a mixer. Beat on medium high with the whisk attachment for about 7 minutes, until it forms a white meringue that is cool to the touch (bowl should be cool to the touch). Reduce mixer speed to low and slowly add the butter. Beat another 5 minutes or so until the butter is completely incorporated.  Add the powdered sugar, cream cheese and vanilla. Beat on medium speed until the mixture is satiny.

Frost cooled cupcakes.  Keep refrigerated but serve at room temperature.

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