Tuesday 7 February 2012

On lavender sugar

As snow has fallen here in the south-east of England, I’ve been deep in the lavender fields of Provence as I work away at my novella. The first draft is nearly there but I’ve been breaking the days of intense concentration with walks out into the countryside beyond my window. The other day there was a granular quality to the snow, and so studded with tiny bits of leaf matter it was like stepping into lavender sugar.

The moment made me think of how perfect lavender biscuits can be with a cup of tea.  Here’s a very simple recipe, though if you find the taste of lavender too strong you could use sugar that has been stored in a sealed jar with sprays of lavender rather than the chopped flowers.

65 g caster sugar
175g butter
4 tablespoons icing sugar
1 handful finely chopped lavender, fresh or dried
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
160g plain flour
35g cornflour
Pinch of salt

Cream together the butter, caster sugar and icing sugar until light and fluffy. Mix in the lavender and lemon zest. Combine the flour, cornflour and salt before adding to the butter and sugar mixture. Blend well until you have a smooth dough. Roll the dough into a ball, cover with cling film and refrigerate for an hour. Heat the oven to 170 C / Gas mark 3. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough out to about half an inch in thickness. Cut into shapes and place on baking trays. Bake for about 20 minutes or until biscuits just begin to brown at the edges.

If that’s whetted your appetite, here’s a delicious-sounding recipe for lavender and mint shortbread cookies from Woody Creek Lavender Farm in the USA:

It sounds an idyllic place. “Our family lives simply and happily on our 27-acre farm east of Ceresco, Nebraska,’ writes Shawni Vincent Cook. ‘We have never felt so at home, so content and fulfilled as we do right now. I am rustling up the genes that have been calmly waiting their turn to dominate my life…given by both my grandmothers – they had no problem sewing an outfit at the last minute, canning an entire garden with a smile, or renovating a room in the house like it was just an average day.”

What is it about lavender farms that haunt the imagination, the very thought of which gives a sense of ease and contentment? I think it’s the way the senses seem to conjure up the fragrance at the very mention of the word.


Shawni @Woody Creek Lavender Farm said...

Warmest regards on the mention of our farm Deborah. My book should be in any day...I like to get them from my local book store. They had the hardcover on the shelves (which I normally buy), but there is something about the lavender field cover available here in the US, that just made me insistent on ordering that one specifically. Thank you again and if you are ever in the States, shortbread and tea will be waiting...

Why this blog? said...

I like the smell of lavender but dont think id like the taste much. There is something comforting about the smell and the look of rows of lavender flowers stretching for miles.
Thanks for sharing.


Lynne with an e said...

It's as if I can *see* the fragance when I think "lavender."
I have made lavender shortbread and found it utterly melt-in-your-mouth delicious, though others found it a bit "soapy." There's a herb farm not far from us and the lady that runs it sells small jars of dried lavender with the shortbread recipe printed on the label.
I love how the crunch of snow reminds you of lavender sugar. A foot in both worlds,definitely.

Elizabeth Young said...

Thanks so much for these recipes Deborah, I will be sure to try them, so on 'Lavender Days' we can have 'Lavender Cookies!' I am in Toronto right now (staying with my daughter) for the Canada Reads debates. Will do a post on by blog at the end.
Best Wishes,

Carol said...

I get the impression these will be delicious :)

Thanks for the recipes


Celia Lindsell said...

I think the taste of Lavender is a great way to cut through the sweetness of sugar. Kind of ying and yang.

Sacha said...

Hello Deborah
I love summer walk in the fields of lavender, and photographed
I cook a lot of lavender in baking but also with meat
Your recipe seems delicious, I will test with pleasure
good evening

Lisa Erin said...

definitely whetted my appetite. Especially for lavender sugar. There is a small and rather trendy community in California called Ojai (pronouned O-high). In the shopping area, there is a small English tea room and shop where I once bought a bag of lavender sugar. It was really good. I think I'm going to try "lavender-ising" some sugar myself. You have inspired me. :)

Unknown said...

Yum! I'm planning to try the lavender cupcakes from The Hummingbird Bakery cookbook v soon. They look amazing!

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