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Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Lavender Cupcakes

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Cool, soothing lavender: beautiful, aromatic, serene.

And trust Nigella to have a recipe for Lavender Cupcakes in her lovely book, Forever Summer!

The recipe calls for lavender sugar, which I decided to make myself.

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I had some lavender from Trader Joe's and was going to stick a few sprigs into the sugar per Nigella's suggestion. As I researched other lavender recipes, however, I realized what I really needed to use was Culinary Lavender, to ensure it was pesticide-free and that no inedible oils had been added to intensify the lavender's aroma. To make the sugar, simply add the culinary lavender to sugar and seal in jar for a few days. It will smell fabulous when you open it and looks very pretty!

The cakes were very sweet, but I was surprised to find the lavender flavor so mild. I sensed this even at the batter stage and, having strained all the lavender petals from the lavender sugar, decided to ignore all warnings and throw a pinch directly in the batter. They still ended up terribly mild lavender-wise, but were lovely. I intensified the flavor by sprinkling lavender on top of the pale violet frosting, which made them perfect.

What inspired this interest in eating lavender? A trip the the Ferry Building in San Francisco, where I discovered Miette's Organic Lavender Shortbread. The buttery little shortbreads taste as good as they look.

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I will definitely be experimenting with more lavender recipes.

Nigella developed this recipe for the Lavender Trust, a British charity for young women with breast cancer. As this recipe is associated with good causes, I'd like to take a moment to direct you over to Sam at Becks & Posh and encourage you to support her participation in a 24 hour Blogathon to raise money for Food Runners. Thank you.

Lavender Cupcakes (adapted from Forever Summer):

1 cup self-rising flour
1/2 cup very soft butter
7 tbsp. lavender sugar, sifted (I recommend returning some of the petals to the batter)
2 eggs
1-2 tbsp milk

vanilla frosting
violet food coloring
culinary lavender to decorate

Preheat the oven to 400.

Mix together the butter and sugar until smooth, then add the eggs one at a time, until completely blended. Add the flour and mix gently. Add the milk as needed to reach the right consistency.

Line a muffin pan with 10-12 paper liners and distribute the batter equally. Bake for 15-20 minutes, until done (mine took 18 mins and I made 12).

When the muffins are cool, decorate with pale lavender colored frosting and sprinkle with lavender petals.

25 Comments:

Blogger Dori said...

Wow I get to read this one right after it's posted. Love the lavendar colored frosting. Lavendar tea to drink is my favorite.

10:52 AM  
Blogger christine said...

Beautiful!!

11:15 AM  
Blogger Sam said...

Absolutely gorgeous, Catherine. Even though I prefer lavender in my soap to my food and I am not much fond of the colour purple usually, I think if anyone could get me to change my mind, it would be you, today.

Ps - thanks for the Blogathon shout out too, your support is really appreciated!

11:30 AM  
Blogger Alanna said...

VERY pretty! I fell in love with lavender last year, starting with to die for lavender potatoes (yes! potatoes!) and lavender creme brulee. You might not go for the steak though ... but it's all here

3:57 PM  
Blogger Catherine said...

Dori - lavender tea? Tell me more!

Christine - many thanks!

Sam - I love these multi-use herbs. Lemon Verbena is another one I'll be experimenting with (love LV soap!) Best of luck on the Blogathon - it will be fun!

AK - lavender potatoes - I can't imagine how that will taste, but I'll try almost anything (veggie)!

4:55 PM  
Blogger cookiecrumb said...

Great pictures!

11:57 AM  
Blogger Mo said...

These are stunning. I LOVE the idea of lavender in food. Nice work!!! I can see this easily being adapted to other herbs too.

I'm new here to posting... been lurking with delight for a while, but with the lavender entry here, I had to pipe in with my compliments!

4:33 PM  
Blogger Catherine said...

Welcome Mo and thank you! Your soaps look beautiful. I'm glad I hit the right key to get you to delurk!

6:39 PM  
Blogger Mo said...

Aw, thank you! You definitely DID hit the right key LOL! Don't worry, I'll be back...

6:59 PM  
Anonymous Stevi said...

it all looks amazing. i love lavender chocolate so why not lavender cupcakes!

8:21 AM  
Anonymous bea at La Tartine Gourmande said...

Lovely Catherine. A great way for me to use my lavender as well! I cannot wait to try. Btw, did you get my email about your Mac/iphoto issues?

9:50 AM  
Blogger Catherine said...

Hi Bea - yes, thank you, I did. I think my problem is a different one.

Stevi - lavender chocolate! I'm getting a lot of great ideas here!

12:01 PM  
Blogger Fanny said...

What a pretty purple cupcake.
Just a tiny question though: does the lavender has to be dried before added to the sugar?

Fanny

5:13 PM  
Blogger Catherine said...

Hi Fanny,

Yes, it should be dried. If you are going to pick your own and know the lavender hasn't been sprayed, you should dry it upside down in a dark place for a couple of days to dry it out. According to The Spice & Herb Bible, lavender is best harvested in the morning and flowers with a few unopened buds have the most oil. I know you'll do something very lovely with it!

6:29 PM  
Blogger Alice Q said...

I think I like the idea of this more than I might like the taste - but it does look gorgeous. You have a lovely blog!

10:48 PM  
Blogger Fanny said...

Thanks Catherine for answering so quickly. I'm putting on my shoes and going in my garden to pick some lavender before the bees wake up!

Fanny

12:44 AM  
Anonymous tabehodai said...

Lavenders are beautiful and you've made them more beautiful! I would really love to try lavenders in baking. What do you suggest to make the flavour stronger?

8:10 AM  
Blogger Catherine said...

Alice - the taste was very mild - my kids loved them! Thanks for visiting

Fanny - how wonderful! I wish I could get the lavender to take here.

Tabehodai - welcome and thank you. Honestly, I think the key to making it stronger is simply adding more lavender. However, almost everything I read warned against adding too much because it makes the food tastes like perfume!

9:02 AM  
Blogger Bron said...

Catherine, your cupcakes and shortbread are too gorgeous!!
I feel like putting on my fairy wings to make them and hosting a little fairies garden tea party!!
hehe :o)

3:09 PM  
Anonymous cake lady said...

how timely! i just made lavender-lemon cupcakes last night. to enhance the lavender flavor, bring milk and some lavender to boil, remove from heat, cover and steep for 5 min. strain out the lavender and your milk is now infused w/ its flavor. also, consider adding a touch of lemon extract to the batter, it complements the lavender nicely. enjoy!

12:32 PM  
Blogger Catherine said...

Thanks, cakelady! I can imagine the lavender and lemon combo is a winner!

12:50 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This sounds delightful!

I made Honey-Lavender Ice Cream once, and that recipe said to pulse some lavender in a food processor with the sugar... so rather than infusing the sugar with the scent, there were tiny bits of actual lavender throughout.... perhaps that's the way to intensify the flavor.

I will be trying these cupcakes!

6:34 AM  
Anonymous Tea Enthusiast said...

I can't wait to try these cupcakes. I love lavender and have used it in baking cookies and cakes as well as serving lavender sugar with tea. Thanks for this recipe. I'm going to make up a batch this weekend as a birthday treat for my husband!

Althea
http://aquietteaspot.com

2:22 AM  
OpenID 6p00d8341bf71853ef said...

Just mentioned your creation in my piece Feeling Blue, Check these Lavender Cupcakes from Brussels on 'Serge the Concierge'

Take care

Serge
'The French Guy from New Jersey'
Twitter: @theconcierge

10:43 AM  
Blogger Maria said...

Thank you! Interesting link to "culinary lavender". I noticed that my lavender cake (http://ingenrotmos.blogspot.com/2010/07/lavendelsockerkaka.html) did not taste the same when I used lavender from my garden :( I will try this lavender cupcakes, sounds lovely!

1:59 AM  

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