Today’s Weather Forecast: A sweet mix of sunshine and clouds. Probability of celebration is 100%.
Did I mention that I have a bit of a thing for clouds these days? Yummy ones, that is (you may remember these cloudy sweets). Maybe it’s a subconscious need to escape the everyday, or to float above reality to la la land for awhile, but every time I bake (it’s been known to happen) clouds are on my mind. A little while back I woke up with an undying need for something lavender & lemon, which has also been known to happen, so I made some Lavender & Lemon Shortbread cookies — these little things are so delightful. I love the kind of shortbread that just melts in your mouth with all of its buttery goodness, and the recipe I use is one I’ve adapted from Joy of Baking–it never disappoints. I cut little L&L clouds and felt that they were just too cute to be gobbled up and long forgotten. So I decided to create some cupcakes to perch them upon, to celebrate the awesomeness that is Lavender & Lemon even further.
And it’s to not say that these cupcakes need to be cloudy, because are pretty special all on their own–the cupcakes themselves are light, tender, citrusy Lemon Buttermilk Cupcakes, topped with tangy homemade Lemon Curd and topped with Whipped Lavender Frosting. If you’ve never baked with culinary lavender before, you’re in for a real treat–the lovely flavour of the lavender doesn’t come across floral, but rather compliments the sweet vanilla and lemon flavours like a dream (you just don’t want to overdo it by adding too much — less is more).
I also thought it would be neat to make my own cupcake wrappers for these, because I wanted something pastel and lavender with a cloud-like scalloped edge. I found a scrapbook paper that I loved and went ahead and cut out some wrappers — this is so easy! For the template, you can check out this simple post from Skip To My Lou. I snipped the tops with the “cloud” style (I didn’t make that up) scallop scissors from the craft shop and secured the backside with a glue stick. Once you learn this simple trick of making your own wrappers, the possibilities are literally endless. Sometimes the liners that we bake the cupcakes in look so cute and, unless they’re really thick, they absorb a lot of the grease of the cupcakes and a lot of the colour is lost. I can see making these little wrappers becoming a wee bit addictive!
I think these cupcakes would make the cutest and yummiest addition to any spring or summer party, shower, dessert table, picnic, birthday or, of course, a lovely Mother’s Day treat. I just adore this flavour combination, and it’s always fun to watch someone’s face light up when you tell them that they just ate lavender–suddenly they feel pretty fancy. It’s hard to not smile when you take a bite of summer.
Even if you stopped at making the Lavender & Lemon Shortbread Clouds, well I’d be okay with that too. They are such a tasty little treat and look pretty darling alongside a cup of tea. With only a handful of ingredients, they’re also pretty quick and easy to make. To make this cutter, I used a simple small flower cookie cutter and gently squished it into a cloud shape — it works!
Or you can always whip up some Lavender & Lemon Shortbread Unicorns and call it a day — the world will forgive you. (For those who will want to know more about this fancy cutter in particular, it’s made by Tovolo — I just don’t see it on their website anymore. Sorry!)
Or you can do as I do, and make the L&L Shortbread Unicorns, eat and share most of them before you can actually photograph and blog about it, then make another batch of the shortbread, turn them into clouds, make the following recipes, stack it all up and watch them beam . . .
Escape to La La Lavender & Lemon land . . .
Moist, fluffy lemon buttermilk cupcakes topped with zingy lemon curd, whipped lavender frosting and topped with lavender sugar cookie clouds.
- 1 cup (240 ml) (8 oz) buttermilk, at room temperature
- 2 eggs + 1 egg yolk, at room temperature
- 1/4 teaspoon (1.25 ml) pure vanilla extract
- 2 cups (230 g) cake flour, sifted
- 1-1/4 cups (250 g) granulated sugar
- 1-1/2 teaspoon (8 g) baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon (2 g) baking soda
- 1/4 teaspoon (2 g) salt
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) (115 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- Finely grated lemon zest (rind) of two medium-large lemons
- 3 sticks (340 g) unsalted butter, softened and cut into cubes
- 3.5 cups (400 g) confectioners’ sugar, sifted
- 3 tablespoons (45 ml) whipping cream (35% cream), or whole milk
- 1 tablespoon dried Culinary Lavender
- 1 teaspoon (5 ml) pure vanilla extract
- a pinch of salt
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Prepare two standard muffin pans with your favourite baking liners and set aside.
- In a medium bowl or measuring cup, combine and stir the eggs, 1/4 cup of buttermilk, and vanilla. Set aside.Sift the cake flour 3 times.
- In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the dry ingredients, including the sugar, together on low speed (I use the “stir” setting on my mixer) for 30 seconds.
- Add the butter and blend on low speed for about 30 seconds, then add remaining 3/4 cup of buttermilk, and mix on low speed until just moistened. Increase to medium speed and mix for 1 1/2 minutes.
- Scrape the sides of the bowl and begin to add the egg/milk mixture in 3 separate batches; beat on medium speed for 20 seconds after each addition. Stir in the lemon zest.
- Divide the batter into your prepared liners, no more than 2/3 full.
- Bake until a toothpick comes clean when inserted into the center of the cupcake (~15 minutes). Be so careful to not over-bake. Place hot baking pans on wire racks, then carefully (they’re hot!) remove the cupcakes from the baking pans immediately to let cool. Let cool completely before frosting.
- In a small bowl or glass, stir the dried lavender into the whipping cream (or milk); cover with plastic wrap overnight (or for at least several hours).
- In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, whip butter for 8 minutes on medium speed (I use “4″ on my KitchenAid). Butter will become very pale & creamy.
- Strain the lavender cream and add to butter, along with all remaining ingredients and mix on low speed for 1 minute, then on medium speed for 6 minutes. Frosting will be very light, creamy, and fluffy.
- Add a few drops of Violet gel colour (I used Grape Violet by Sugarflair and a drop of Americolor Electric Purple ) and mix until blended.
- Add 1 tablespoon of lemon curd on top of each cupcake and gently spread (be careful to not put more than this, or it will ooze).
- Fill a small pastry bag fitted with pastry tip of your choice (I used a plain large round tip) about 1/2 full with frosting and pipe a generous swirl on top of the lemon curd.
- Top with a Lavender & Lemon Shortbread Cloud. Finish with a scalloped cupcake wrapper or design of your choice
[cupcake batter recipe adapted from Canadian Living]
Here is the recipe for the Lemon Curd.
- 1 cup (2 sticks) (227 g) good quality unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1/2 cup (60 g) confectioners' sugar (powdered sugar/icing sugar)
- 1 teaspoon (5 ml) good quality pure vanilla extract
- 1 tablespoon (15 ml) dried culinary lavender
- 1 tablespoon (15 ml) grated lemon zest (rind)
- 1-1/2 cups (190 g) all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup (75 g) cornstarch (corn flour)
- 1/4 (2 g) teaspoon salt
- In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat on medium speed (I use #4 on my KitchenAid mixer) the butter until it is smooth and very creamy, about 1-2 minutes.
- Add the confectioners' sugar and beat for another 2 minutes. Beat in the vanilla extract, then stir in the dried lavender and lemon zest.
- Stir in the dry ingredients and mix until they are incorporated. Make a ball of the dough and seal in plastic wrap. Once in the wrap, flatten the dough into a disk and chill for one hour (at least--can be longer).
- When you're ready to roll and cut the cookie dough, preheat oven to 350°F and place the oven rack in the middle position. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper or two baking mats.
- Roll the dough 1/4" thick on a lightly floured surface or between two sheets of parchment paper. Cut desired shapes, place on baking sheets and chill in the refrigerator or freezer for about 15 minutes.
- Bake until very light golden brown, about 8-10 minutes. Let cool on cookie sheets on wire racks.
Cookies will keep in an airtight container for about 1 week, or can be frozen.
[cookie recipe adapted from Joy of Baking]
- Some of the items I used to make these cupcakes are Stainless Steel Scoop for measuring perfectly-even cupcakes, Culinary Lavender, and Nielsen-Massey Vanillas 8-oz. Madagascar Bourbon Vanilla Extract).
- To get frosting super smooth (no air bubbles), use a silicone spatula and in an aggressive side-to-side motion, pushing the frosting back and forth against the sides of the bowl (you will hear a sort of paddling sound). Do this every so often while you use the frosting–it keeps it super smooth. You can also add a few drops (just a few!) of water for ideal spreading/piping.
- Just a note about purple–all purple gel colours will yield a very different colour by nature, for example, Americolor Violet is much more blue than purple (when compared), and Americolor Electric Purple is more magenta than blue. Those differences in addition to the fact that you’re adding it to an ivory base (this butter frosting), can really alter the look of the finished cupcake, so you’ll want to play around with small frosting samples in bowls before tinting the entire batch. (I ended up making the frosting all over again to achieve the shade I liked best). Just be careful not to go too far with these concentrated colours, because it can get too intense quickly.
- You can find a wonderful cupcake wrapper template at Skip To My Lou.
Good luck & enjoy!