Monday, November 1, 2010

Lavender Cupcakes

Last week Brian Ferry's photography blog led me once again to inspiration in the form of a London cupcake shop and bakery called Violet. The Interwebs once again brought me something beautiful I never would have come across without it. Violet's owner makes cupcakes with delectable-sounding names like English raspberry, English strawberry and French apricot. I perused every single page of the bakery's site, and even the next day couldn't stop thinking about cupcakes. In my nutrition class on Friday morning, I spent my break looking up tips on adding lavender to baked goods so I could come up with something of my own.

The aromatic lavender has been holding its own in the garden, despite the efforts of nearby too-large tomato plants. Whenever I'm out in the yard, I take a moment to fondle the lavender. Just brushing it with my fingers leaves a clean, sweet scent behind. It reminds me of the New Mexican dessert where wild sage and lavender thrive alongside tumbleweed.

Of course I've heard of lavender in perfume, but lavender as an herb is something relatively new to me. I think it started with some shortbread cookies. Flaky, buttery and suddenly fresh with flowers. These lavender-lemon cupcakes are my first effort. A valient try, I'd say. I didn't have much blooming in the garden, but enough to make due. I added the lavender as I would an herb, and its flavor was isolated to bites of cupcake that actually had bits of flower in them. But those bites just burst with flavor once the flower's fragence opened up. I think I would try making a lavender-infused simple syrup next time to coax the herb to take over the entire cupcake.

Lavender Cupcakes: makes 18
1 cup butter plus more to grease pans
1 1/2 cups flour (sifted)
1 cup plus 3 tablespoons sugar
6 large eggs, separated
2/3 cup lemon juice
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon fresh lavender flowers
pinch of salt

Preheat the oven to 350.
In a medium or large bowl, beat together the sugar and egg yolks until light and fluffy with the whisk attachment (because I have that now!). Add the lemon juice and zest if you have it and want to use it and the vanilla and mix well. Using the paddle attachment, gradually mix the almonds and then the flour into the batter until combined. Set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk egg whites until soft peaks form. Add the salt and the last 3 tablespoons of sugar. Beat until stiff but not dry. Set aside.

Melt the butter. Fold the butter into the batter using a spatula. Then gently fold in the egg whites, being careful not to deflate the whites. Pour batter cupcake sleeves. Bake 20 minutes or until golden brown.


Craig Henry said...

awesome! David makes lavender lemonade, but lavender for baking?! you are so daring.

Anonymous said...

Fascinating! I'm going across the street to steal some lavendar from Selma's yard while she is at work! I only had one bloom on my plant.

Meg said...

i LOVE lavendar shortbread cookies from omaha's farmer's market ladies. i bet i would love your cupcakes. : )