Recipe courtesy of Nadya Alborz

Cupcakes with Strawberry Jam and Rosewater Buttercream

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  • Level: Easy
  • Total: 1 hr 10 min (plus cooling)
  • Active: 45 min
  • Yield: 24 cupcakes
Taking the grand prize on Kids Baking Championship is a pretty sweet deal: You walk away with $25,000 — and of course fame and glory. But the most recent winner of the competition, 11-year-old Nadya Alborz, got something even better: She scored the phone numbers of hosts Valerie Bertinelli and Duff Goldman. “I get to chat with them sometimes!” she says. The Knoxville, TN, tween has her Syrian mom and grandmother to thank for giving her an early start in the kitchen and for teaching her to use ingredients common in Middle Eastern recipes. For her final creation — a strawberry jam–filled layer cake — she dressed up buttercream frosting with sweet, floral rosewater and won over the judges one final time. “It feels, and tastes, really nice to include my culture,” she says.


For the Cupcakes:

For the Frosting:


  1. Make the cupcakes: Preheat the oven to 350˚ F. Line two 12-cup muffin tins with paper liners and coat with cooking spray. Whisk the flour, baking powder and salt in a bowl; set aside. Beat the butter in a large bowl with a mixer on medium-low speed until creamy. Add the granulated sugar and vegetable oil and beat until fluffy, about 3 minutes, then add the vanilla. Beat in the flour mixture in 3 additions, alternating with the milk, scraping down the bowl as needed.
  2. In another large bowl, beat the egg whites with a mixer on high speed until stiff peaks form, 3 to 5 minutes. Gently fold into the batter with a rubber spatula; do not overmix. Divide the batter between the muffin cups. Bake until golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, 20 to 25 minutes. Transfer to racks and let cool 15 minutes in the pans, then remove the cupcakes to the racks to cool completely.
  3. Meanwhile, make the frosting: Beat the butter in a large bowl with a mixer on medium-high speed until creamy. Reduce the mixer speed to low and gradually beat in the confectioners’ sugar, 1 cup at a time, until just incorporated; beat in the salt. Add the vanilla and rosewater, increase the speed to medium high and beat until creamy, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the milk and beat until fluffy, about 1 more minute.
  4. Put the strawberry jam in a piping bag fitted with a large round tip. Insert the tip into the center of each cupcake and pipe in some of the jam. Spread or pipe the frosting on the cupcakes.

Cook’s Note

To make the Homemade Strawberry Jam: Combine 2 cups chopped strawberries and 1 1/4 cups sugar in a saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat. Stir in 2 tablespoons lemon juice and 1/2 teaspoon lemon zest and cook, stirring occasionally, until thickened (the jam should reach 220˚ F on a candy thermometer), about 15 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and let cool to room temperature, then refrigerate until chilled.