Saturday, February 19, 2011

Flowers in my Food ~

When I was younger and living at home my mother brewed tea on top of the stove. We had a pan that I remember to be THE tea pan. Maybe she made other stuff in it but when it was time to make tea, there was no question about what to use. So anyways, one day my mother brewed the tea, poured it up in a glass, and brought it to me in the living room. I took one drink of that tea and I was as confused as a cow on astro turf! Without even thinking I called out, "This tea tastes like flowers!" That was back in the day when tea was supposed to taste like tea. We never added peaches or blueberries or hibiscus back then. Well, maybe they did but we didn't know about it. About the only thing added to a good glass of tea in the South was sugar. Turns out, my mother had boiled some potpourri in the tea pan and the taste of it just didn't come out when it was washed. We still laugh about that today, I'm sure the look on my face was priceless!
Well, for a few months now I've been wanting to try some cupcakes with flowers in them. Lavender is all the rage right now - they even put it in tea!! So I scrounged around on the Internet looking for some recipes. I came up with a few and sort of put them all together to fit my needs. I started out with this recipe from another blog. However, I hardly ever use self-rising flower. Then I checked out this one but noticed it had no leavening in it - nothing to make it fluffy! So I finally just used the first one but tweaked it just a bit. 
First of all, I made my own lavender sugar. About 3 weeks ago I combined about 1/3 cup of lavender flowers with 2 cups of sugar. You can't just go pick your own lavender or go to the flower shop. You have to get lavender that does not have any pesticides on it. I got mine at Central Market in the bulk foods section. It was only about 63 cents for what I got. So I put the lavender and the sugar in this big Mason jar and left it for 3 weeks, although 2 is long enough.

After 2 or 3 weeks has gone by, the lavender sugar is ready to use. Just sift the sugar to get the flowers back out. I sifted mine twice and there were still some flowers that managed to sneak in. That's ok because you are going to put a few of the flowers in the batter anyway. Don't flip out trying to separate them!  So here are all the ingredients you will need, minus the salt, which you can add or not. I did.

Lavender Cupcakes
1 cup flour
1/2 cup very soft butter
1/2 c. lavender sugar, sifted
1 ½ t. baking powder
1/8   t. salt
1/4 t. lavender flowers
2 eggs
3 tbsp milk
Preheat the oven to 350. 

Sift lavender sugar to get the flowers out. One of the original recipes said to put part of the sugar in a food processor with ¼ t. lavender flowers and blend. I tried that and it didn't work so I just threw the flowers in there whole. I know, it was a big chance to take but I had no other choice.

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. Original recipe said  to use 1 -2 tablespoons but I used 3 tablespoons. I did taste the batter and it tasted suspiciously like the sugar cookie dough I made a week ago. Hmmmm...

Line a muffin pan with 10-12 paper liners and distribute the batter equally. Bake for 15-20 minutes, until done (mine took 17 minutes and I made 10). 

When the muffins are cool, decorate with pale lavender colored frosting and sprinkle with lavender petals (or whatever blows your dress up). I used white dragees but they would have been pretty with nothing but frosting.

As for how they tasted, the lavender was so faint that you might think you were eating just a vanilla cupcake. However, I did taste it and it gave these cupcakes a little hint of something special. Also, I have not had much luck in the past with just plain vanilla cupcakes. They were either too dry or too something. I think these would make for a perfect vanilla cupcake if you leave out the flowers and add a teaspoon of vanilla. So there you have it, the long awaited lavender cupcake. Not bad having flowers in my food!

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