I have to tell you that I adore cupcakes. I think that they are precious, such fun to eat and make, and liven things up. If we were having a smaller wedding, say with only about 40 people, I’d have cupcakes in a heartbeat. Its been a while since I made cupcakes, but on Monday I made these for a friend’s birthday, and that got me in a cupcake mood. I opened up a book of cake recipes and tried to find one that would be fun and festive.
I spend my days with an almost three year old named Marin. She’s delightful and I enjoy our time together. She is also very, very into princesses and fairies. So when I noticed a recipe whose title included the word fairy, I figured she’d be hooked. She’s also gotten a lot more interested in cooking/baking recently, so I figured it would be a good day activity for us.
The recipe called for fresh lavender, which for the life of me I could not find. I actually went to two grocery stores and a florist and could not find fresh or dried lavender. I was about to give up when I stopped into one of the higher end food markets on my way home, and they had both. However, a fresh lavender plant two days before Valentine’s Day runs $50 at Balducci’s, so I settled for dry lavender. The recipe also called for drugees, but since they’re not FDA approved for eating and I was making these with a child, I opted for purple sugar crystals instead.
The cupcakes turned out miserably. They were salty (they had no salt in them), and tasted more like biscuits. So, because I can’t stand to disappoint a two year old, I put Marin down for a nap and made different cupcakes. I used my go to vanilla cupcake recipe, which is Amy Sedaris’. There wasn’t any vanilla in the house though, so I used maple syrup. Thankfully the lavender overthrows any other flavor, so you can’t really tell. Still, the whole process of having to throw out a dozen cupcakes is frustrating. This is also the third recipe from that book that has failed, so it will also be the last that I try. Hello, recycling.
Even after I made a new batch of cupcakes, the flavor was still… well off. After Dan ate a couple we decided that they’re good, they’re just not what you’d expect. The flavor is very strong, and, frankly, herbal. They taste a little more like muffins than they do cupcakes. They’re tasty, and the flavor is unique, they just don’t taste like you’d expect. If I made them again I think I’d leave the lavender out of the icing, so that the sweet icing could balance the cupcake more evenly.
Lavender Fairy Cupcakes
Source: Adapted from Amy Sedaris and inspired by Cakes and Bakes
For the cupcake:
1 1/2 sticks butter
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 tbsp maple syrup
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
2 1/2 cup flour
1 1/4 cup milk
2 tsp lavender, dried or fresh
For the Frosting:
1 stick butter, softened
2 cups confectioners sugar
1/2 cup milk
1 tsp sparkle sugar
1 tsp lavender, dried or fresh
Preheat oven to 375*. Line cupcake pan with cupcake liners.
Cream butter. Add in sugar and beat until well incorporated and fluffy. Beat in eggs. Beat in remaining ingredients and mix until creamy. Fill cupcake liners 2/3 the way and bake for 20 minutes.
To begin the icing, cream butter. Add in confectioners sugar, one tablespoon at a time, until it’s thick and well creamy. Add in milk, sugar, and lavender. Scoop into your icing bag and pop in the fridge. There’s a delicate balance between too warm buttercream and too cold buttercream, so watch out. If it starts getting runny, it needs to be cooled. But at the same time you don’t want it to be rock solid, so check it every 5 minutes or so.
When the cupcakes are done, allow to cool on the rack. They must be room temperature before you put on the icing. If you’re in a hurry you can pop them in the freezer, but that can make them stale. When they’re cool, ice, and top with sparkle sugar. Serve to the very excited children who helped you make them!
Makes 18-22 cupcakes, depending on how you distribute your batter.