Lilacs are a real highlight of late spring, bursting with fragrance and colour all over the place. They come in a range of purple hues as well as some pink and white varieties too, and all are edible and delicious. Care should always be taken not to confuse them with superficially similar horse chestnut flowers or the later-flowering buddleias, but once you know a lilac you won’t have much trouble finding them. They are a popular garden plant so you could even grow your own (it’s on my ever-lengthening future plant wish list for if/when I have more outdoor space…) or get to know a friendly neighbour who might have one, but they do spring up on publicly accessible land too, usually from escaped and naturalised garden plants. The season is very short though, so it’s good to get in quick before they are over!
The combination of lilac and blueberry isn’t a new one to the Plot & Lane blog, as I posted this Lilac and Blueberry Curd Tart recipe last year, but I couldn’t resist pulling it out again this season. I absolutely adore blueberry muffins, and wondered if I could give them a level-up with a lilac sugar topping. It does put them firmly in the category of a teatime treat rather than a breakfast staple, although as far as I’m concerned you can eat them when you like! I did try folding some lilac flowers into the muffin batter, but to be honest the flavour of lilacs can be lost at high temperatures during baking, so I’ve found the sugar topping brings the zest, floral essence that I am looking for in this recipe.
The lilac sugar is made simply by grinding the lilac flowers into some granulated sugar to release all of the wonderful flavours and aromas which then combine so beautifully with the juicy pops of blueberry in the muffin itself. The only drawback that I find is that the sugar doesn’t keep brilliantly, so these muffins are best enjoyed straight away after decorating. The muffins themselves can be made ahead of time, but the lilac sugar decoration should perhaps be done just before serving if possible.
Lilac and Blueberry Muffin Recipe
Makes 12-16 muffins
For the muffin batter:
- 225g all-purpose flour
- 110g unsalted butter, softened
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 200g granulated sugar
- 2 eggs
- 120ml cup milk
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 225g fresh blueberries
- 1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 4 tbsp icing sugar
- 2 tsp water
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup lilac flowers
- A few extra lilac flowers to decorate
- Preheat the oven to 190°C. Line a 12-cup muffin tin with paper liners (you might have some leftover, in which case use an additional tin if you have one, or just bake them in batches). Spray the pan and the liners with non-stick cooking spray or lightly brush with a neutral-flavour oil.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt.
- Cream together the butter and granulated sugar before adding the eggs one at a time, scraping down the sides of the bowl and beating well after each addition. Beat in the vanilla extract. (The batter may look a little grainy – that’s okay because it will come together in the next stage)
- Gradually add the flour mixture, alternating with the milk until combined into a very thick batter. Fold in the blueberries until evenly distributed, taking care not to overmix.
- Scoop the batter into the prepared muffin tin – they should be very full.
- Bake for about 30 minutes, until lightly golden. Let the muffins sit in the pan for 10 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to finish cooling.
- When completely cooled, decorate your muffins. Combine the icing sugar and water to make the icing that your lilac sugar will stick to. To make the lilac sugar, grind together the lilac flowers and granulated sugar in a pestle and mortar or spice grinder. Dip the tops of your muffins first into your icing followed by the lilac sugar. Decorate with your fresh lilac flowers – I use a chopstick or skewer to poke a little hole first that you can slot the flower into.
As mentioned above, these muffins are best enjoyed on the day of baking or the day after. They will last for a few days without spoiling, but the lilac flavour in the sugar is at its best when super fresh.
As always let me know if you try these and how you get on. Feel free to tag me on Instagram @plotandlane with photos of your creations – I always love to see and share what you are inspired to make!
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