I signed up for a cake decorating class. It's a 4-week course at my local craft store. For the first lesson, I needed to bring 6 un-iced cupcakes. I wanted a clean, easy and easy-to-make-dairy free recipe for simple vanilla cupcakes.
I found this wonderful Williams Sonoma recipe for vanilla cupcakes. I replaced the butter with Earth Balance buttery sticks and I used my lilac sugar, which by now has a wonderful fragrant flavor and aroma.
The cupcakes baked evenly, gave me a soft yet structured crumb and had a lovely combination of the vanilla and the lilac flavor.
Now, on to the icing. I signed up for this class because my skills with a pastry bag have always been a little shaky, so I wanted some kind of formal training to make my baked goods look pretty as well as tasty.
We really started with the basics, mainly straight lines, wavy lines, stars and rosettes. We mixed two different colors and played around with the star tips.
I think I did okay for a first timer...
It's such a beautiful spring! The season has been especially kind to the lilacs, which are bursting out everywhere. Last week, I made lilac sugar. While I watched the bouquet of lilac blossoms on my table begin to wilt, I decided to use them to make a lilac Challah bread.
I used the lilac sugar in the recipe, but I also stripped off the petals of one of my blossoms and added it to the dough in the mixing stage. For the recipe, I used Peter Reinhardt's The Bread Baker's Apprentice Challah recipe. But instead of the SAF Red Instant yeast that I'll use for lean doughs, I used the Gold SAF Instant Yeast instead. And, for added richness, I replaced two of the eggs in this recipe with duck eggs.
Now, It's been a while since, I've braided anything, so I had to practice getting used to the tension in the bread dough, but we got there. I was so pleased with the beautiful the strands of petals weaving through the dough.
They proofed beautifully and then baked at 325 convection for about 45 minutes until they reached an internal temp of 200 degrees.
And finally, served with a little local raw honey...
I follow a fabulous baker on Instagram called @thelavenderbakery. She runs a bakery in London called, The Lavender Bakery. Not only is she an incredible baker, but she's a lovely person as well. I recently shared a photo of my lilacs in full bloom (for the first time since I planted them 8 years ago) and she suggested that make Lilac sugar.
Well, the next day, I cut some lilac blossoms. I made a bouquet with some and transformed the rest into Lilac Sugar.
This is really more of a method than recipe.
First, I washed the blossoms and let them dry completely. Then I pulled the flowers from two full blooms and made sure there were no stems.
Next, I poured granulated sugar into a dry, quart sized container and mixed the blossoms in. I sealed it and put it in the cabinet. In a few weeks, I'll try making lilac sugar cookies, Lilac brioche, or maybe even lilac whipped coconut cream...
I'm a home cook with a lifelong passion for learning, exploring and experimenting in my kitchen. You can find me at @Debs1 on Twitter and @Debs121212 on Instagram.
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