This year I have a newfound appreciation for May. Historically Bozeman springs have left me feeling frustrated at the indecisive weather changes, and perhaps it is this early onset spring coupled with fairly consistent weather (not much snow to speak of!) that has me in better spirits, but I think mostly it is the lilacs.
I know that they have always been our most fragrant indication of the coming summer months, but they are always at the mercy of either a snow storm or heat wave. This year however, they have really been allowed the time to flourish. Everywhere you look the horizon is laden with a lavender colored froth erupting from yards, parks, and alleys. Their magic has inspired me to infuse that comforting aroma into my pastries and generally every moment of these fleeting spring days.
After much experimentation I have concluded that Lilac syrup is the way to go. Lilac sugar sounds pretty fantastic but far too subtle to bake with. It would be wonderful at a tea party, but it would just get lost in a pastry. So I figured a syrup that I could use to infuse buttercream would be my best bet. I am also convinced that lilac ice cream or panna cotta would be incredible! So if I somehow find some time to play around with that in the next week or so you'll be the first to know!
In the meantime here is a lilac explosion.
I picked so many lilacs to experiment with and inevitably had a bag full of unused beauties that served as an immersive break from baking. Sticking your face in a bag of lilacs and inhaling deeply is a pretty fantastic way to calm nerves, and cool your thoughts. Just saying'.
For the Lavender Syrup I decided that in order to extract the most color from the flowers I would use the darkest buds, and grind them into the sugar using a food processor before boiling with water. It did work well, but because the Chlorophyll leached out into the syrup it turned a very dark almost black sort of purple! I ended up adding a bit of red food coloring to take it back to a nicer hue.
These Photos were taken by me during recipe development, but a couple days later Justine came over and we did it all over again with food styling, and a professional eye because... you will be able to find this recipe in my cookbook! That is so exciting, and will never get old. I am convinced.