Lemon Cupcakes with Lavender Butter Cream
I thought I’d try something a little different for these cupcakes and so I decided to flavour them with lemon and lavender. They were quite fragrant and had a nice subtle lavender flavour which really complimented the strong fresh lemon flavour of the cupcakes. The cupcakes were easy to make as they used the all in one method to make a really light sponge and the lavender butter cream was very straight forward to make. The undecorated cakes froze really well and the decorate cupcakes kept for around four days.
175g or 6 oz self-raising flour
pinch of salt
110g or 4 oz soft margarine
110g or 4 oz caster sugar
2 large eggs at room temperature
1 dessert spoon lemon juice
grated zest of a lemon
Preheat the oven to 180°C (fan oven)/ 190°C/ 375 Fahrenheit/ Gas Mark 5 and line a muffin tin with 12 paper cases
Sieve the flour and salt into a bowl to thoroughly them together, and then add in the other ingredients and beat until completely smooth. This will take around one to two minutes.
Fill the 12 cases. If you want a flat topped cupcake, then place a heaped tablespoon of mixture into each case and if you want a domed cupcake, then fill the cases three quarters full. Bake the cupcakes in the centre of an oven for fifteen to twenty minutes or until the cakes are well risen and golden on top
If the cakes crack, press them down with the back a spoon as soon as they come out of the oven. Allow the cupcakes to cool on a cooling rack.
Lavender Butter Cream Icing
two heaped tablespoons of fresh lavender leaves or dried lavender flowers
100 ml milk
500g or 1lb 1 and a half oz icing sugar
150g or 5 oz soft unsalted butter
a little lemon zest
Place the lavender leaves or flowers into the milk and heat on a low heat for around ten minutes to allow the lavender flavour to infuse. I used fresh lavender leaves because we have a massive lavender hedge growing in our garden. I realise I can’t expect everyone to start cultivating lavender just for this recipe, so feel free to use dry lavender flowers if you can find those instead. You can also opt to increase or decrease the lavender flavour depending on your own taste.
I wanted a reasonably subtle but still recognisable lavender flavour in my buttercream so I allow the lavender leaves to infuse into the milk on the hob for about ten minutes, and then turned the heat off completely and left the milk to cool gradually on the hob for about half an hour. I then placed the saucepan into the fridge to cool completely (about a. Cooling the milk and lavender mixture in the fridge increases the fragrance and flavour but if you want a more subtle flavour, you can always sieve out the lavender and then cool the milk.
Sieve the icing sugar into a bowl and cream together with the butter until light and fluffy. It will seem like there’s far too much icing sugar for the amount of butter but if you persevere then it will come together. I used a wooden spoon for this and had to work very hard to cream the mixture and get a smooth result.
Gradually add enough cooled, sieved milk to form a soft paste. You want the butter cream stiff enough to hold its shape once piped but not so stiff it’s impossible to pipe with. To increase the lavender flavour, I chopped the leaves that I had infused the milk with and added these to the butter cream. I also think this makes the butter cream look lovely as it gives you a sense of the herbal flavour. I think that chopped lavender flowers running through the frosting would look even more lovely. Finally, I added a little lemon zest to add a bit more fragrance and bring out the lemon flavour in the cupcakes.
Put the icing into a piping bag with an open nozzle (I found that the chopped lavender blocked a star shaped nozzle) and pipe on top of cupcakes. I’ve found placing the empty piping bag fitted with the nozzle into a wine cooler or vase, folding down the top edges and filling the bag with the butter cream, scraping it against the edge of the wine cooler or vase makes filling the piping bag much easier. Pipe a spiral of butter cream onto the cupcakes by piping a circle around the edge, and then another circle within that and finishing by applying pressure to the bag to give a point at the centre of the spiral
Add any decorations whilst the butter cream is still wet so that they sit nicely on top of the cupcakes. I used little fondant flowers in a lavender purple to hint at the flavour in the butter cream.