I had a bit of a hard time coming up with an idea. Not because I didn't have a recipe or ten floating around, I just didn't have a favourite that called to me. And it's finally Spring. The nice weather has been calling me outside into my garden, not a lot of baking going on. Let's see.
The chocolate chip butterscotch oatmeal cookies? A newly developed recipe, turned out beautifully but I hate the way it tastes. It sounded so good in my head, the reality, not so much. Scratch that one.
It's spring, I know exactly what I'm going to write about. Flowers. That's right, I just finished a batch or three of these little beauties. A huge hit as always, so here are a few hints on bringing Spring to the table.
Single serving Pavlova, decorated with violets and fresh mint
There are hundreds of edible flowers. First up around here are violets, then lilacs, a summer of roses, followed by lavender later on. Throw in some pansies, geraniums, peonies, nasturtiums and glads and my summer decorating is pretty much complete.
My violets have spread everywhere
I have hundreds
The easiest way to use flowers is fresh, picked and placed. They definitely up the appeal of just about any dish.
To preserve them a little longer, sugar them. Take your fresh picked flowers, paint them with some lightly beaten egg whites and sprinkle generously with caster sugar. Gently tap off any excess sugar. Let dry completely and they can be stored for as long as a couple of months.
Imagine those glads decorating a chocolate cake
Make scented sugars. Lavender, lilac and roses make incredible sugars. Lavender, because it is so strong, mix a couple of tablespoons of flowers with a cup of sugar. Pulse a couple of times in a food processor or grind together with a mortar and pestle and let sit for a week or so until the sugar absorbs the scent. Sift out the now dried flowers, or not, as you prefer, and it's ready to use.
The neighbour's lilacs are looking pretty tempting
Lilacs and roses, 1-2 cups of petals or florets to a cup of sugar and same process as above.
Make syrups. Infuse a simple syrup, 1 cup water, 1 cup white sugar. The amounts of flowers to syrup are roughly the same as for making sugars. Place the flowers and water in a pot. Bring to a boil. Add sugar stirring until it is all dissolved. Reduce heat and simmer about 15 minutes, covered. Remove from heat and let steep anywhere from an hour to overnight. Strain the flowers out. I do it twice, once through cheesecloth then through a coffee filter. Place in jars and refrigerate. It should stay good for a week or two. The great thing is you can also can it.
Incredibly fragrant antique roses
Bring your strained syrup to a boil. Ladle into prepared jars and water bath process for 10 minutes.
Remove and let cool checking the seal. If sealed properly, they will last for 6 months to a year.
You can also make jellies and vinegars but I think that is enough for now.
Now for the warnings and disclaimers.
Check and double check the flowers you have are edible. There are many that are extremely toxic. They can cause organ damage or prove fatal. When in doubt, don't. It isn't worth the risk.
Only use flowers you are sure haven't been prayed with pesticides, herbicides or fungicides. Do not use that beautiful bouquet you got from the florist. Flowers that are safe to eat are labelled as such. I try and only use ones I have grown myself or from other people's gardens I know.
People with pollen allergies will react badly to eating flowers. You can minimise that by trimming out the stamens, or just using the petals.
When sugaring, there is a risk of Salmonella when working with raw egg whites, about 1/30,000. Use powdered egg whites if you can find them. Meringue powder is not powdered egg whites and tastes awful.
For the syrups, the procedures are how I do it. By all that I know, it is safe to can but I couldn't find any reliable information to back that up. I've never had a problem but.... don't take my word for it. Be smart, get informed and make your own choice.
This years crop of regal geraniums
These beautiful blossoms will be used up all summer
Hopefully, I haven't scared you off of trying some of these out. Cakes, cupcakes, salads, entrees decorated with fresh flowers are beautiful. Desserts sprinkled with floral sugars are amazing. Drinks and desserts made with the syrups are incredible.
My favourite pairings, vanilla with lavender, rose or lilac. Lemon with rose or lavender. Chocolate with lilac or rose. Rose scented lemonade, with a generous splash of vodka of course, perfect for the patio on those lazy, hot summer days. Chocolate, lilac scented buttercream frosting, a little slice of heaven.
Not baking exactly but a baking booster post. I'll end with a question. With grilling season starting, what is your best burger recipe? I know, still not baking but I do love my burgers and my BBQ rules all summer long.
Don't forget to check out what eveyone else is baking this week. Enjoy.