Cupcake Bliss: Lavender, Please

After a summer full of heavy rains, I'm eager for fall and hoping for a sunnier weather pattern in the coming season. We took my baby to college over the weekend (sniff) and when Monday dawned to yet another rainy day, I retreated to the kitchen where, on a normal day this time of year, the counter is strewn with lavender in some way, shape, or form.  

Herbs from the summer garden can add a lovely touch to all sorts of baked items. This recipe uses lavender in two forms - the buds (or flowers) in lavender sugar which I always keep on hand, and fresh-snipped lavender leaves which I used to make an infusion. Despite the double dose of lavender, the taste remains subtle. In case you missed an earlier post on lavender sugar, here's the link.


Lavender Cupcake Recipe

First step is to head outside and grab a generous handful of lavender stems being sure to gather those that are unblemished. You'll need 2 to 3 tablespoons of snipped leaves. My go-to recipe for glossy 7-minute frosting is the one found in The Joy of Cooking. In this case, I tinted it with 2 drops purple food coloring. If you have your own favorite recipe, use it. The purple sugar, though entirely optional, has a way of making the cupcakes look fancy. I sampled one before they hit the table and decided the recipe is worth writing down. Enjoy!

For the cupcakes:

Ingredients:

1/2 cup skim milk
2 - 3 tablespoons snipped lavender leaves
1 stick butter, softened
3/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon lavender sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 3/4 cups cake flour, sifted
2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. kosher salt

Place the milk and snipped lavender leaves in a small saucepan over low heat until just hot (do not boil); remove from heat and let mixture cool completely before using. Strain and set aside the infused milk; discard the lavender.

Combine butter and lavender sugar in a mixing bowl; beat on high speed until light and creamy, scraping the sides of bowl once or twice. Add the eggs and vanilla extract, beating until light and fluffy. Combine flour, baking powder and salt; add flour mixture to creamed mixture alternately with the infused milk, beating on medium speed until combined. Spoon batter into a paper-lined cupcake pan; bake at 350 degrees for about 24 minutes or until cupcakes test done.

Frost and decorate as desired. Yield: 12 cupcakes.