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.
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.
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)
1-2 tbsp milk
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.