Sunday, 18 August 2013

The taste of Lavender is as good as the scent!

Visitors to Cusworth Hall earlier this summer were surprised to learn that Lavender was a popular ingredient in baking as they enjoyed sampling my version of Grandma’s scrumptious Lavender biscuits. As well as being a beautiful plant in the garden, Lavender is one of the best kept secrets for baking. Lavender sugar can be used to bake a wide range of teatime favourites such as Scones by substituting the sugar with Lavender sugar in the original recipe.

To make Lavender sugar :

Place the caster sugar in a bowl. For every 4oz/110g sugar, you will need a tablespoonful of lavender. Add the lavender to the sugar by pressing it through a sieve with your fingers or the back of a spoon. Put the sugar in a clean jar and add another tablespoon of lavender flowers to the jar. Cover the jar and shake well every couple of days. Leave for 3 to 5 days for the lavender to infuse into the sugar. Then it’s ready to use.
Here's the recipe for the Lavender biscuits I served to visitors at Cusworth Hall : 
Lavender biscuits  
150g/5oz butter
225g/8oz plain flour
75g/3oz lavender sugar
1 yolk of egg

 “Rub the butter into the flour and add the sugar and the salt. Then add the egg and work into the flour as quickly as possible, making a dry dough. The mixture must be kept dry. Roll out thinly and cut into rounds. Bake for 25 minutes in a slow oven.” (300F, Mark 2, 150C)
Meryl’s tip: Use the spare white to egg to make Coconut Macaroons to Grandma’s recipe on page 51 of Grandma Abson’s Traditional Baking book.  

Chris at Fragrant Lavender has sent me a very simple and scrumptious recipe for Lavender Cakes which don't need Lavender sugar but use the Lavender flower buds mixed with the flour. These are small cakes which Grandma would call 'buns'. 

Chris's Lavender Cakes
4 oz/110g Margarine or butter 
4 oz/110g Caster Sugar
4 o/110g Self Raising Flour
2 Eggs
1 tsp Lavender flower buds (Chris says: 'I use fresh ones but you could use dried ones.')

Cream the margarine/butter and sugar until light and creamy in texture. Add the eggs a little at a time and beat well. Add the lavender flower buds to the flour then fold into the mixture. Half fill paper bun cases then bake at 180-190C, 350-375F, Gas mark 4-5 for about 20 minutes until firm to the touch.
If you haven’t got lavender in your garden, visit a Lavender Farm or shop like Fragrant Lavender and pick up a plant ready for next year.  

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