Recipe: Make our strawberry and lavender cupcakes

Charlotte's strawberry and lavender cupcakes

Charlotte's strawberry and lavender cupcakes - Credit: Charlotte Bond

Laid out in the sun, surrounded by bowls of ripe summer berries, these grown-up cupcakes look an absolute treat.

They're the first in a series of recipes coming up dedicated to one of the most quintessentially British fruits - the strawberry.

Synonymous with English gardens, Wimbledon, high days and holidays, the plump, scarlet, seed-bespeckled beauties are a joy to behold as they come fully into season. You can keep your woolly, watery, spectacularly sour imported winter strawbs. They are imposters.

'Real' strawberries should have a perfume so intoxicating it makes you salivate. When ripe, follow your nose to find them in the supermarket, at the greengrocers or at your local farm shop or market. 

It's best to eat them quick. Picked at their peak, they can soon turn to mush. But...if that happens pop them in the freezer to make future smoothies, or blitz, sieve and strain into a glass of fizz for a delicious summer's day cocktail.

If you do have room in the garden, I urge you to try growing your own. In time, just a few plants will multiply - each of their 'runners' providing a new plant to pot up. I've got several, and each plant produces at least one punnet's worth of berries each year. Mind you, they never make it into the kitchen, begging to be eaten as soon as they're plucked.

In this week's recipe I've used lavender. It's gorgeous with strawberries.  

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Don’t be put off if the idea of using the flower makes you think of your granny's sock drawer. These do not taste soapy – less is more when it comes to cooking with lavender. Make sure you buy the culinary version, available online and in some specialist stores. If you grow your own, dry some out to use next year.  

Strawberry and lavender cupcakes

(Makes 12-14)

Ingredients 

250g unsalted butter, softened 

4 large eggs 

250g caster sugar 

250g self-raising flour 

1tsp culinary lavender 

½ jar strawberry jam 

To ice: 150g icing sugar, 1tbsp strawberry jam, lemon juice, pink colouring (optional) 

Method 

Pre-heat the oven to 190C and pop 12 paper baking cups (or large muffin cases) on a tray. 

Add the butter, eggs, sugar, flour and lavender to a large bowl or countertop mixer. Whisk with a hand whisk or the mixer until very creamy and thick. Add a splash of water at the end and combine again. 

Use an ice cream scoop to put one scoop of the mix into each case. Pop a teaspoon of jam in the centre of each mix then cover with another (scant) scoop of mixture. Bake for 25 minutes. I like mine to look nice and neat, so slice off the peaked tops (don’t worry, you won’t lose the jam) before icing, but you can leave them as they are. 

Sift the icing sugar into a bowl and add the jam and a couple of drops of colouring if you like. Squeeze in a splash of fresh lemon juice, then add some cold water, drop by drop, until the icing is thick like custard. Spoon over the cakes and decorate as you like. I’ve used lavender from my garden.