The sugared native violets got me going – blame them!
Springtime in Adelaide and the lilacs are in bloom. Couldn’t pass up the chance to sugar these and hide them away for those special desserts and cakes. I must thank Valerie at A Canadian Foodie, gorgeous blog, love the macaron posts. Anyway, Valerie does use a different method to mine for the lilacs but it’s a good one and her photos, the step-by-step instructions and lovely writing gave me the impetus I needed ❤
Here’s what I did on a beautiful, sunny Saturday with time on my hands and a quiet, comtemplative frame of mind.
Pick your lilacs. I washed mine by gently swishing them around in a bowl of cool water. I shook off the excess water and lay them to dry on paper towels. You do have to be sure to use pesticide-free flowers. So, usually, unless you have a credible organic source, no store bought flowers for sugaring. Have a sneaky peek around the neighbourhood and when you spot a (pesticide free) blooming lilac (or rose, or violet or borage or pansy etc etc)
go back and snip some off under cover of darkness, only joking… Barter for their flowers – make a cake or something nice and get in good with the neighbours and their lovely blooms!
This sugaring method is different to the one I used for the violets and I have to say – I like it! We have our own chickens so using raw eggs has never really been a great concern for me, HOWEVER, I do recognise that raw egg has become classed a high-risk foodstuff and many people will refuse to use it. Valerie had a brilliant idea – she substitued albumen (egg white) powder. Safe as houses!
Anyway, I digress, I really can say, after using the following sugar syrup method, I don’t know if I’ll use egg white for sugaring again. It really was so easy and made so much sense. You see, what I did this time was make a sugar syrup, dip the flower in it and then coat in the caster sugar. Worked like a charm! The syrup makes a lovely “glue”, doesn’t clag up and dipping the flower into the syrup, as opposed to painting it on, gave me a much more consistent result, with much less effort.
1 cup of sugar
1/2 a cup of water
Put both into a small pan on a lowish heat. Stir until the mixture comes to the boil and then stop stirring. Boil away until you have a syrup – no colour at all, just a slightly reduced, clear syrup. Now, I did use my candy thermometer and cooked my sugar/water until the thermometer reached 100F
You need to let the syrup cool to room temperature now. I tipped it into a smaller bowl, to help it cool faster and for ease of use.
Get all your bits and pieces together, not that you need much. A rack, or tray, covered with non-stick baking paper. Caster (superfine in the US) sugar. Spread it out on your tray. Can’t give you a quantity – a nice, big pile but not so much it goes all over the place while you’re coating the flowers. A pair of tweezers to pick up the blossoms. Your bowl of syrup.
Pull the blossoms off. Don’t be worried, they’re quite hardy. When you have a pile to work with, pick one up with your tweezers and dip it into the syrup. Swazzle it about a bit, make sure it’s coated all over.
Place your dipped blossom/s on paper towel for a minute or so, the excess syrup will drain off and you’ll be less likely to end up with big, clumpy, sugar blob blossoms… I decided to do some clusters of blossoms too, they’ll take longer to dry and may well come apart when they’re dry, but they look so pretty.
Pick up with your tweezers again and coat in sugar. The best way for me turned out to be almost dragging the blossom through the sugar until it was coated ALL OVER. Put it to one side and, well, just keep going… my friends, this is a time consuming process, but believe me, the results are so worth it and if you’re in the right frame of mind, there’s nothing better 🙂
Leave your blossoms to dry, I left mine for 24 hours, and carefully pack away in an airtight container. I ended up gently tipping the entire contents of the tray, sugar and all, into my container. My reasoning? I hope the extra sugar helps keep my beautiful blooms fresh and dry while they are being stored. It also acts like a little cushion – keeping the sugared blossoms from knocking against each other as much.
Once a year – that’s the only chance I’ll get to make them! Precious & beautiful. Watch out future cupcakes! My sugared lilacs will make store-bought factory sprinkle and glitter look like try-hard show-offs!.