I spent the week painting my husband’s home office. Choosing the color was painstaking; how to find a shade that was manly but not misogynist? Above all, I did not want beige, which is joyless and patriarchal. I chose “Manhattan Mist” by Behr and am pleased with the results though the whole process continues to mystify me (see my adventures in pink).
Why, you may ask, couldn’t your husband pick his own color? Well, most of my readers wouldn’t ask that, but if one of you is meekly raising your hand then okay, I’ll bite: it’s because he simply can’t be trusted. I know I am supposed to preface that with, “With all due respect,” but once you have said someone can’t be trusted it seems false to talk about respect. I respect his work ethic, his nacho-making ability, his recall of state-by-state election results, and his willingness to dig through the garbage for my lost phone, (sorry about that, Baby) but not his taste. That may bring us to your next question and I am already wiping tears of laughter from my eyes: once the color is established, why can’t he paint his own office? Because he is not allowed to touch the paintbrushes.
So after all that, the walls are gorgeous and sort of veering, tentatively, toward purple. However, the silvery gray lining – evocative of the moody but thrilling aura of Manhattan – around my grayish cloud is that I have realized I like purple. Not purple that sets out to be purple, but accidental purple. I enjoy the color that one person calls blue, another purple, another gray. Not Husky purple, (again, sorry Honey) but a subtler hue.
So once I had soaked in a sense of accomplishment from getting the room painted, I decided to turn the whole experience into a cupcake. My daughters and I are crazy for the scent and site of lavender and it’s getting close to that time of year here when the plants are full, fragrant and abuzz with bee activity. The honeybees laze around in the lavender bushes, getting their aromatherapy and pretending they are in Provence.
These fairie cakes are the Lavender Trust Cupcakes from Nigella Fresh (formerly Forever Summer, and in the UK, Nigella Summer). I did not have lavender sugar – though it was easy enough to tuck some stalks in a jar with sugar for the next time I make these. I had rose sugar and vanilla sugar but no lavender sugar; what is wrong with me?
So for this, I made lavender milk, something she suggests in a different lavender cupcakes recipe (yes, she has more than one). Steeping lavender in milk will make your kitchen smell like a lav farm and cause you to fall into a deep, untroubled sleep. Unfortunately, you will awaken to scorched milk, so try to stay upright while it simmers. Follow the link below if you prefer to make your own self-rising flour with all-purpose flour.
1 cup self-rising flour
1/2 cup very soft unsalted butter
7 tablespoons sugar (Nigella says 7, I say 6)
a few tablespoons lavender milk
Preheat the oven to 400 degress. Line a 12-cup muffin pan with paper liners (you probably won’t get 12 out of this; I reaped 10). Ideally, the butter, eggs and milk will have been out for awhile, allowing them to come to room temperature and achieve a smoother batter.
Place all the ingredients except the milk in the food processor and combine, then add the spa-scented milk to make the batter the consistency of thick paint (and if you use a couple drops of purple food coloring, you may just achieve an edible “Manhattan Mist”). Using a couple spoons, fill the liners equally and bake for 14 minutes or so. Nigella says 20 minutes, indicating that she has a $7,000 Aga range that takes it’s sweet, expensive time.
If these puff up and you prefer a level top for icing just lop the dome off once they are cooled. As for icing, Eaters, it’s up to you. Icing is so sugary that I almost never use it. But we wanted an excuse to dye something purple, so: 1 cup of sifted powdered sugar, a couple tablespoons of lavender milk, (I made extra) and the barest droplets of purple and blue neon food coloring later and behold!