It’s lilac-glorious-lilac season.
On the weekend, Bea challenged me to make muffins for breakfast with something from the garden. It was pouring rain, and my lilacs were drooping heavily. I wondered if they’d make it through the storm. So, I thought, why not go for the gold? I put on my rain boots and grabbed my secateurs and harvested a few good panicles. We cleaned the flowers with a quick immersion in water. Then, we tore the blooms from the panicles and set them on towels to dry.
Next, I tweaked my basic mini-muffin recipe to accomodate my favourite citrus and those pretty white blooms (purple flowers will work just as well). The result? A lemon muffin with a very subtle lilac flavour and a bit of a coconut-like chew from the fresh lilac flowers in the batter. And, the optional toppings are, well, miraculous. The lilac simple syrup serves as a bit of a “soak” for the muffins, here, but it is just as beautiful in mixed drinks and sodas as it is for baking. And the simple lemon glaze? What more could a lemon lover want?
Lemon Lilac Mini Muffins
- 2 c flour
- 1 tbs baking powder
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 c unslated butter melted
- 2 eggs
- 2/3 c white or brown sugar
- 3/4 c milk
- 1/4 c lemon juice [1 large or 2 small lemons]
- 2-3 tsp lemon zest
- 1 c clean dry lilac flowers and buds – all stems and green bits removed.
- Heat oven to 400F.
- Spray a 24 slot mini-muffin tin and 6-8 slots on a second tin with baking spray.
- Mix together the flour, baking powder and salt.
- Whisk butter, eggs, sugar, milk, lemon juice, vanilla and zest.
- Slowly incorporate butter mixture into flour mixture.
- Add lilacs and stir.
- Spoon about 1 tbs of batter into each mini-muffin tin, aiming to get a flower towards the top of each muffin “for show.”
- Bake for 11 minutes.
- Cool muffins in tins for a few minutes.
- Then, remove the muffins to a wire rack and begin to cool.
- [Optional] When muffins are still luke-warm, spoon about 2 tsp of the lilac simple syrup over each muffin.
- [Optional] When muffins are completely cool, spoon the lemon glaze over top of each muffin and allow to set.
Lilac Simple Syrup
- 1 c sugar
- 1 c water
- 1 c clean dry lilac flowers stems and green bits removed
- Food colour: gel drops, natural [Optional]
- Heat sugar and water over medium-high heat until sugar has dissolved.
- Reduce heat to a very low simmer and add flowers, stirring until just combined.
- Leave the pot to simmer for 10-15 minutes.
- [White lilacs will turn slightly pink. Pink and Purple lilacs will darken slightly.]
- Add a drop of food colour if desired.
- Remove from heat.
- Pour syrup through a fine mesh sieve [layered with a jam muslin if desired] into clean jars, removing all flowers.
- Allow syrup to cool on the counter.
- Remove any film that has developed on the top of the syrup with a spoon, or pass through the mesh sieve again and transfer to a clean, sterilized container. [This may look like mold spores - but it's just tiny flower bits rising to the surface!]
- Seal and refrigerate.
Use this syrup to soak sweet breads, loaves, muffins, flavour icings, or to flavour and sweeten plain sodas or cocktails. It makes a lovely mix with champagne at a brunch or with vodka and soda.
- 1 c icing [powdered] sugar
- .25 c lemon juice
- Food Colour if desired
- Add juice to the sugar by the tablespoonful, stirring constantly, until glaze reaches a slurry consistency.
- Add a drop or two of food colouring if desired.
- Spoon or drizzle over muffins, sweet breads or cookies.