It is certain that if I say lavender you automatically think of the south of France. Fields of purple waves touched by warm sun and busy bees. True that even the word itself derives from Old French lavandre and that therefore this association would not seem entirely wrong. However, also England can claim a large handkerchief of its land of this blue flower that fills up the air with its pungent and distinct smell.
And here goes also with its uses. Added to sage, rosemary and thyme it enriches the meat of a chicken roasted in the oven or, if the temperature dictates, on the barbeque. Mixed to the flour it makes some classic scones a surprise to enjoy for a truly Summer tea. And like in this case, infused to milk transform some banal cupcakes to something new.
I am sure that if the weather had been warmer here I wouldn't have been experimenting with the oven quite as much as I have but even during those balmy days I still found that 15 minutes of raised temperature in the kitchen was worth it the pleasure of a relaxing tea time in the garden enjoying a cup of tea with friends under the cherry tree.
This one is a slight adaptation of a recipe that Nigella gives in her book Forever Summer - which I must admit had never even heard of till the other day. We have plenty of neighbours around here who have lots of bushes that provides us with an abundance of flowers - and you only need a few sprigs so not much "borrowing"!
125g plain flour
125g caster sugar
2 tsp baking powder
3 tbsp milk
5 lavender sprigs
Soak the sprigs in half a glass of milk for at least 20 minutes.
Melt the butter in a pan. In a mixer whisk the butter with the sugar until frothy. Add the eggs and continue mixing,
Sift the flour to which you will have incorporated the baking powder into the mixture. Mix well until you obtain a thick and creamy paste.
Add the milk from which you will have removed or strained the lavender. Beat the mixture well and let it rest for a couple of minutes.
Pour the mixture into individual cups and bake in the oven at 180C for 10 minutes or until golden.
When cool sprinkle with icing sugar and decorated with lavender flowers.