I hope you had a wonderful weekend!
Bowen Island, BC
What did you get up to this weekend? I went to a goodbye party on Friday, taught music lessons on Saturday and then took the ferry to Bowen Island for an overnight escape. The weather in Van was a mixture of sunshine with cloud cover. Did you manage to soak up some of the sporadic sunshine? What crazy fog we’ve been having! While teaching lessons on Saturday I gazed longingly out my music studio’s window into the grassy expanse of Vanier Park. Dogs raced across the fields and runners jogged through the mist towards Kits Seawall. What an active city we live in! Even on drizzly days like this past weekend people get out to enjoy the outdoors.
It was nice to stretch my legs a bit at Bowen today. We mostly snuggled on the couches by the fire (flipping through some of the many National Geographic magazines stashed at the cabin!) but definitely enjoyed some healthy tromps through the forest when we felt like fresh air.
Here is a picture of some rosemary sprigs I snipped from the overgrown bushes at our cabin:
Perfect for some future bread baking!
Friday’s goodbye party was for my dear sister Shannon Julia. Shan is moving to Sydney, Australia on February 18th to begin her Master of Occupational Therapy studies! It’s going to be hard to say goodbye but I can’t deny how awesome her new life ahead will be. Studying abroad in a city like Sydney will be life changing for her. I can’t wait to visit her and experienceher brilliant new city life!
The party was potluck of course, so I decided to bake a little treat that everyone, mostly girls, would like. Why not go for some cupcakes? Plus these little desserts are always popular and so easy to pass around in a large group.
I wanted to steer away from the typical “cakey” cupcake with too much icing, so flipped through my cookbook library to get inspiration. I stumbled across these Lavender cupcakes in Nigella Lawson‘s cookbook Forever Summer. They looked so dainty and beautiful I just had to make them myself! And they were lavender flavoured? That baffled me! How was that possible?
Nigella’s recipe called for self-raising flour, which I didn’t have, so I hunted online for ways to alter the recipe. After searching around a bit, I found that Martha Stewart had a similar recipe online, calling for a darker, more chocolatey cupcake batter (which I was more in the mood for anyways!)
The cupcakes turned out to be delicate and floral, with a surprising chocolatey gooeyness once bitten. Here is the recipe:
Recipe from: Martha Stewart online. She calls them “Spring Cupcakes”
Yield: 2 dozen (small) cupcakes. Bake: 350 degrees. Time: 20 mins. Total Prep/Bake/Decorate: 2 hours
For the cake: 3/4 cup plus 2 tbsp all-purpose flour 1/2 tsp baking powder 1/2 tsp salt 157 ML unsalted butter 3 1/2 ounces unsweetened chocolate 1 1/3 cups sugar 2 large eggs 1 tsp vanilla For the Icing: 1/3 cup whole milk 1.2 tsp dried lavender 3 1/2 cups icing sugar violet gel-paste food colouring (I purchased mine at Michael's just fine)
DirectionsBatter: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line 2 standard 12-cup muffin tins with paper liners. Whisk flour, baking powder, and salt. Put butter and chocolate into a heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water; stir until smooth. Remove from heat, and let cool slightly. With an electric mixer on medium speed, beat chocolate and sugar for 3 minutes until blended and slightly granular. Add eggs, one at a time, and beat until combined and smooth. Beat in vanilla. Reduce speed to low. Add flour mixture; beat only until just combined. A little floury stuff should show! Divide batter evenly among muffin cups. Cupcakes should look small and cups shouldn’t be filled! Batter should divide to 2 dozen. Bake until set and a cake tester inserted into centers comes out clean, about 18 minutes. Transfer to wire racks; let cool completely. Icing: Bring milk and lavender just to a boil in a small saucepan. Be careful!! You don’t want the milk to curdle. Test temperature frequently. The milk should start to steam a little, then remove from heat. Let milk steep 10 minutes with lavender sprigs. Strain, and discard lavender. Whisk in sugar until smooth. Strain again. Add food coloring until desired shade. Use immediately. Spoon icing over cupcakes, covering tops completely. Let set, about 1 hour. * Cupcakes can be stored in single layers in airtight containers for up to 2 days.
Here are some photos I snapped while baking the cupcakes:
I hope you enjoy these lovely cupcakes yourself!