Grapefruit Lavender Cupcakes

This was my sweet submission...well, for my bake-off that is! I actually have to credit a brainstorming session with my brother to this particular flavor combination. I knew that it would taste good because Elderflower Syrup does, and that is a tart floral flavor combination!

So, without further ado, here's the recipe!

Grapefruit Lavender Cupcakes (modified from my Grapefruit Yogurt Cake recipe)


1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup plain non-fat yogurt (you can use whatever you have on hand)
1 cup plus 2 tablespoon sugar
3 large eggs
3 teaspoons grated grapefruit zest (approximately one large grapefruit)
½ tsp of ground dried lavender flowers
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 cup freshly squeezed grapefruit juice
1 tsp of lavender flowers (unground)


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a mini-cupcake pan with cupcake liners. You can use a regular 12-cupcake pan if you’d like.

Sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt into 1 bowl. In another bowl, whisk together the yogurt, 1 cup sugar, the eggs, grapefruit zest, lavender and vanilla. Slowly whisk the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients. With a rubber spatula, fold the vegetable oil into the batter, making sure it's all incorporated. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for about 15-20 min, or until a cake tester (or toothpick for us amateurs) placed in the center of one of the cupcakes comes out clean.

Meanwhile, cook the 1 cup grapefruit juice and remaining 2 tablespoons of sugar with the lavender flowers in a small pan until the sugar dissolves and the mixture is clear. Let cool for later.

When the cupcakes are done, allow them to cool for about 5 minutes. While they are still warm, brush on the grapefruit-sugar mixture over the cupcakes several times to let the syrup soak in. I did it about a total of 6 times. If some of the syrup is left, that’s OK – you can use it for a cocktail base. (that’s what I did!)

For the Grapefruit Buttercream Frosting:
1 cup butter, softened
3 3/4 cups confectioners' sugar
1/4 cup of freshly squeezed grapefruit juce and 1 tbsp of grapefruit zest
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon salt
Lavender flowers

Combine butter, sugar and salt and beat till well combined. Add the grapefruit juice, zest and vanilla and continue to beat for another 3 to 5 minute or until creamy.

Frost the cupcakes when completely cooled and soaked with the syrup. Sprinkle with lavender flowers.

And that’s how you make a Lavender Grapefruit Cupcake. :)

A Lotta Leeks

While I was preparing for my bake-off, I was also thinking about how I can’t just do a cookie or a cake or a cupcake. It was done, it will be done and I needed to break from the mold. So I decided to turn to my source of culinary inspiration…my green grocer.

I had been eyeing their pile of leeks for weeks. I like leeks braised, grilled and in vichysoisse. I used to make this lovely soup so often that I was asked to stop. Literally, every week there’d be a pot of it bubbling away. The rationale was that if they were growing in my backyard, I should use them!

Since I no longer have leeks growing in my backyard, I fall back on eyeing them at my green grocers. And when the opportunity came to use them in a savory recipe, I jumped at the chance. And I also jumped onto the internet to find a recipe. Luckily, I knew that I could turn to smittenkitchen.com instead of just trolling the internet, and I found a lovely Leek Bread Pudding recipe. While I liked the version that was on the site, I decided to change it a little.

Leek Bread Pudding (modified from the SmittenKitchen recipe)


2 cup leeks in 1/2-inch thick slices, white and light green parts only, cleaned and rinsed*
Kosher or coarse salt
Freshly ground pepper
2 tablespoons (1 ounce) unsalted butter
Freshly ground black pepper
6 cups 1-inch-cubed brioche loaf (I like to leave the crusts on)
2 tablespoons finely chopped chives
1 teaspoon of fresh oregano leaves, chopped
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
1 cup of heavy cream
2 cups of milk (I used my 2%, but you can use what you have)
Freshly grated nutmeg (or in a container if you have that)
1/2 cup shredded Gruyere

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a loaf pan and set aside.

Place a medium sauté pan over medium-high heat, drain excess water from leeks, and add to pan. Season with salt and pepper, and sauté until leeks begin to soften, about 5 minutes, then reduce heat to medium-low. Stir in butter. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until leeks are very soft, about 20 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste. Remove from heat and set aside.

While the leeks are cooking, spread the brioche cubes on a lightly greased baking sheet and bake until dry and pale gold, about 15 to 20 minutes, turning pan about halfway through. Transfer to a large bowl. Keep the oven at 350 degs.

Add leeks, chives and oregano to the bowl of bread; toss well. In another large bowl, lightly whisk the egg and egg yolks, then whisk in milk and cream, a generous pinch of salt, pepper to taste and a generous pinch of nutmeg.

Sprinkle 2 tablespoons shredded cheese in bottom of the buttered loaf pan. Spread 1/2 of bread mixture in pan, and sprinkle with another 2 tablespoons cheese. Spread remaining bread mixture in pan, and sprinkle with another 1/4 cup cheese. Pour in enough milk mixture to cover bread, and gently press on bread so milk soaks in. Let rest 15 minutes.

Add remaining milk mixture, letting some bread cubes protrude. Bake until pudding is set and top is brown and bubbling, about 55 to 65 minutes. Serve hot or cold…both temperatures are equally delicious. Enjoy!


Second Annual Bake-Off (on the rooftop) - Success!

Well, it turned out that yesterday was destined to be the most perfect day for a roof-top bake-off. The sky was blue, the sun shining, the breeze only mildly out of hand - perfect.

With close to 60 guests, 25 sweet and savory submissions and lots of good will, I was able to raise $315.00 for Share Our Strength and also name several deserving bakers as winners of the contest. The categories being judged were Sweet and Savory. There also was a "Most Popular" category, which was voted by the people, for the people.

I was lucky enough to have two celebrity judges - Andy Yang from Rhong-Tiam and Marlo Scott from Sweet Revenge, who not only took on the daunting task of eating through 25 sweet and savory treats, but were lucid enough after the sugar rush to name winners from the Sweet and Savory categories.

From the Savory Category, Yelper Madhuri I. won with her fantastic Pastry Puff Bites.

And from the Sweet Category, Nafeesa S. won with her Carrot Cake Cupcakes w/ Pecan Frosting.

And the winner of the most popular baked good was, well, yours truly for my twist on a favorite recipe of mine, Grapefruit Lavender Cupcakes.

There was sun, sweets and some pretty fantastic sangria - tie that in with celebrity, charity and good ol' fashioned fun - I think it was a pretty successful event.

I did submit something in the savory category, but you'll have to wait for the recipe to see it!



I am holding my 2nd Annual Bake-Off (on a rooftop this time) tomorrow, May 15, 2010.

It's both an exercise in ego and philanthropy as I am going to use this as a venue to promote the Great American Bake Sale, an annual event run by ShareOurStrength.org.

If anyone wants to donate, they can do so at my participant page here.

I am excited that a) the weather is going to be gorgeous b) I have close to 25 committed bakers c) I have three judges, two of which are professional and finally - that I get to try my hand at baking something savory as opposed to my usual cookies/cake/cupcake fare.