Have you been wondering what to do with all of those bright and cheerful dandelions growing in your yard this spring? Why not turn them into these delicious gluten-free, dandelion and lemon paleo cupcakes!! These light and delicious cupcakes remind me a bit of a moist banana bread, but with more of a wild side!
First let’s talk about how to correctly identify dandelions, as believe it or not, there are some dandelion imposters out there.
How To Properly Identify Dandelions:
- Here in the NW dandelion flowers bloom the most in the spring, generally from late March to June.
- Dandelions flowers are bright yellow, except for a few outer lying petals with green highlights that can be found when turning the flower upside down.
- Dandelions grow with only 1 flower per stem. False dandelions like “Cats Ear” often grow with multiple flowers per stem.
- The best time to pick dandelion flowers is mid morning when they are fully open. Dandelion flowers close up in the late afternoon, go to sleep for the night, and then reopen again in the morning. They are also likely to close up on a raining day. They flower like this for a few days before going to seed and becoming great “wish” makers. For baking we pick the petals when they are still yellow, before they have gone to seed.
- Dandelion stems are totally hollow and can be used as little drinking straws! You will also notice a little milky white substance when breaking the buds off of the stems.
- The green dandelion leaves grow in a round rosette around the flowers and the green leaves have jagged edges that resemble a lion’s teeth, hence inspiring the name for these wild flowers.
- Dandelion leaves are dark green, smooth, and do not have coarse or prickly hairs as you will find on lookalikes.
How to Eat and Enjoy Dandelions Flowers, Greens & Roots:
- Dandelion leaves are highly nutritious and can be juiced, added to stir fry or salad. They are bitter, but a little bitterness is said to have great overall health benefits in our diet.
- You can turn the dandelion greens into a wild pesto, just use 2 cups of dandelion greens in place of the nettles in my recipe, and increase the lemon juice to help cut the bitterness.
- In the fall you can dig up and harvest dandelion roots to turn them into a flavorful caffeine-free herbal coffee that I drink daily and love so much! Here’s a link to my dandelion coffee recipe.
- You can also use the new un-opened dandelion buds in this recipe for wild capers.
- You can find recipes online for making dandelion wine with the flowers too.
- You can pick the dandelion petals and bake them into my delicious cupcake recipe below, or you can experiment on your own by adding dandelion petals to your favorite pancake and banana bread recipes!
Next Let’s go over How to Process Dandelion Petals. First gently pick the flowers by lifting up on each bud as you pull the flower away from the stem. I use 2 fingers and gently lift up to release each flower.
Bees and other insects rely on dandelions for early spring pollen, nectar and food. I think it is important to pick lightly in a wide area, leaving some golden yellow flowers for everyone to enjoy. I also gently blow on each flower to make sure I don’t pack any little hitchhikers back into the kitchen with me.
Look at this hard working bee and those giant pollen filled pollen sacs on his back legs. It’s so magical to be able to enjoy the wild flowers of spring with our friends the bees.
I pick roughly 3 to 4 cups of dandelion flowers to make a batch of cupcakes. 3 to 4 cups of dandelion flowers will yield about 2 cups of loosely packed petals. This recipe works great with 1 to 2 cups of petals, I personally like it best with 2 cups, but if you aren’t able to pick that many and want a cupcake that is more moist you can just use 1 cup. It takes me about 20 minutes to pick the dandelions for this recipe.
After picking, find a comfy place on the porch. It’s now time to separate the petals. I pinch the base of each green bud and gently pull the yellow petals free. I also open gently tear the green base open to expose any stuck petals. You will notice the base of the petals are actually white, as show below. You will be able to process the petals pretty fast once you get the hang of it.
You can store the picked dandelion petals in an airtight container in the fridge for a few days with no issues. But I do not recommend storing the whole flower buds for any length of time, you really want to free the petals within the first couple hours of picking them.
Do I wash the petals? No, I don’t as I am content that they are being heated up and baked into this recipe. If you want to rinse the flowers first before processing you can, but I do advise gently drying them as much as possible with a kitchen towel, as it’s more challenging to process wet flowers.
Next prepare the batter as directed in the recipe below. The last step is to fold in the dandelion petals. Make sure you batter is well mixed before adding them in.
And them bake into these glorious dandelion and lemon paleo cupcakes!!
Dandelion and Lemon Paleo Cupcakes
- 2 cups dandelion petals 1 cup will work
- 1 1/2 cups blanched almond flour
- 3 pastured eggs
- 1/3 cup honey or see notes for low carb + granulated sweeteners
- 2 Tablespoons goat milk butter melted (or oil of your choice)
- zest from 1 lemon I use meyer lemon
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- pinch of sea salt
- 1/3 cup goat milk butter softened
- 1/3 cup palm shortening pro-forest certified
- 1/4 cup raw honey or powdered sweetener
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- zest from 1 lemon I used meyer lemon
Processing Dandelion Flowers
First step is to separate out the yellow dandelion petals from the green bitter stems. See photos above. I pinch the green base of each flower and gently pull the yellow petals free. You will get the hang of it pretty quick. I discard the green base and use the yellow petals (with white highlights) in the cupcakes. You want to process picked dandelion flowers as soon as you can after picking, but once you separate out the yellow petals they can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for a few days before using.
Preheat oven to 325*F.
Set dandelion petals aside to add in last, and then mix ingredients together in order that they are listed, starting with almond flour. Then fold in dandelion petals for the last step.
Spoon batter into 10 to 12 muffin cups lined with muffin liners. (If you only used 1 cup of petals you may have enough batter for 10 cupcakes.) Note: I also like to bake this in a loaf pan lined with parchment paper, like you would a banana bread, and extend the bake time to 40 to 45 minutes, It doesn't rise a whole lot in the loaf pan while baking, but I still find it incredibly delicious.
Bake for 18 to 22 min at 325*F. (I recommend peaking in on them at 15 min, and 18 min depending as cooking time will vary by oven.)
Cupcakes are done when a toothpick poked inside of one comes out clean. Let cupcakes cool while you prepare the icing.
Mix buttercream frosting ingredients together in a mixing bowl using a hand blender or immersion blender. Frost cupcakes after they have fully cooled. I then garnish the cupcakes with dandelion flowers and petals.
Estimated Nutrition per cupcake, based on making 12 cupcakes with icing, using a low carb sweetener (lakanto) and increasing butter to 4 Tablespoons in recipe. (If using honey to sweeten cupcakes & icing add 16 carbs and deduct 2.3 grams of fat. I personally use honey because I thrive on a low starch diet with good fats + natural carbs).
Connecting with wild foods and nurturing our bodies is one of my most favorite things to do in this life! What are your favorite wild flowers and foods to enjoy? What arts & crafts, teas, or foods have you enjoyed that were made with dandelions?