March isn’t just Women’s History Month. It is also Women in the Military History Month. Women have been in combat in all our wars, including the Revolutionary, Civil and both World Wars, although some women dressed as men and used aliases.
In 1776, Margaret Corbin fought and helped defend Fort Washington during the Revolutionary War. She was the first woman to serve and she was also the first to receive a pension for her service.
Deborah Sampson Gannett enlisted under the name of her deceased brother, Robert Shurtliff, in 1782. For three years, Sampson served in the Continental Army and was wounded twice. To avoid detection, she cut a musket ball out of her own thigh so they would not find out she was a woman. At the end of the hostilities, her secret was discovered. She was given an honorable discharge by George Washington.
Private Cathay Williams was the only documented woman known to have served in the U.S. Army as a Buffalo Soldier. On November 15, 1866, she enlisted in the Army as a man. Williams reversed her name William Cathay and lived as a male soldier. She served until she was found out due to the last of many illnesses she had suffered while serving.
During World War I, the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps allowed women to enlist. More than 12,000 enlisted and about 400 died during the war. In World War II, a total of 350,000 women served in the U.S. military. More than 60,000 women served as Army nurses and over 14,000 served as Navy nurses. Today, women make up around 14 percent of the U.S. military. More than 165,000 women are enlisted and active in the armed services with over 35,000 additional women serving as officers.
In honor of them, I’m using my special camouflage cupcake papers to make Lemon Blueberry Cupcakes (the blueberries look a bit red against the yellow cake to signify the ultimate sacrifice so many of the women made). The pretty color of the frosting came by adding some blueberry extract, as the cupcakes are for the upcoming Board meeting of the Forum for Equality, a statewide LGBT rights organization here in Louisiana.
Lemon Blueberry Cupcakes
1 cup unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
4 large eggs, at room temperature
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
3 cups all-purpose flour (or 3 ¼ cups sifted cake flour)
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup buttermilk
zest + juice of 3 medium lemons (about 1 tablespoon zest and 3 tablespoons juice)
1 1/2 cups blueberries, fresh or frozen
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
CREAM CHEESE FROSTING
8 ounces cream cheese, softened to room temperature5
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
3 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar
1 – 2 tablespoons heavy cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract (optional – substitute 1 teaspoon blueberry extract)
1/8 teaspoon salt
In a large sized bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt.
Beat the butter and sugars on medium-high speed until creamed, about 2-3 minutes. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl before adding eggs and vanilla. Beat on medium speed until everything is combined. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl as needed.
Slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients. Drop the speed to low, then add the milk, lemon zest, and lemon juice. Remove from the mixer and stir lightly until everything is just combined. Toss the blueberries in 1 tablespoon of flour and fold into the batter. Batter will be very thick.
Spoon batter evenly into cupcake wrappers. Bake for about 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Switch pans front to back and left to right about midway through cooking. Remove the fully baked cupcakes from the oven and allow to cool completely before frosting.
For the frosting, beat cream cheese and butter together on medium speed until creamy and without lumps. Add confectioners’ sugar, cream, vanilla extract (or blueberry extract, if using), and salt with the mixer on low. Increase to high speed and beat for 3 minutes. Add one more tablespoon of cream to thin out, if desired.
The recipe doesn’t make a ton of frosting, just enough for a light frost. Top with blueberries, if desired.
Sources: National Women’s History Project, www.nwhp.org