Lavender is a flowering plant in the mint family. The dried buds, referred to as the flowers, contain the oil which gives off the characteristic scent and flavor. The dried buds can be used in teas, baked goods and other desserts and in savory seasonings for meats, especially poultry. The buds are often combined with other herbs in a blend called herbes de Provence.
When cooking with lavender buds, recipes often call for herbes de Provence. You can make your own mixture by combining equal parts of lavender with other herbs such as oregano, parsley, marjoram, thyme, rosemary, basil and fennel. You may want to decrease the fennel to one tablespoon because of its intense flavor. Lavender pairs well with chicken and I have substituted it for rosemary in some recipes. It adds a rather woodsy and faintly floral flavor to the dish.
The addition of lavender in pastry and dessert recipes has gained popularity over the past few years. I have tried a number of different recipes. Some were fails and some were absolutely delicious. I have learned a couple of important lessons when using lavender in baked goods. First, err on the light side when adding it to a recipe. If the recipe calls for a tablespoon, make it a scant tablespoon versus a heaping tablespoon. Lavender has a distinct and rather strong flavor and you don’t want it to overwhelm the dish. And secondly, grind your lavender buds prior to adding them to the recipe. I usually take the amount of sugar called for in the recipe, add the lavender buds to it and pulse it in a food processor until the lavender has become rather fine in size. This keeps you from biting into what feels like a piece of grass. If you don’t have a food processor you can use a mortar and pestle. But, it isn’t nearly as efficient.
Have some fun with the lavender. Add it to a cake or sugar cookie recipe or use it to flavor your favorite meat. A simple syrup can be made from the buds and can be added to lemonade or you can use the buds to make a relaxing nighttime tea.
Here is a recipe for you to try. It is a simple lemon scone recipe that I added lavender and blueberries to. You could also use blackberries or omit the berries altogether. Enjoy!
Lemon scones with lavender and blueberries
2 cups all purpose flour
6 tablespoons sugar
2 ½ teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
½ cup chilled butter
The zest of one lemon
½ cup milk
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup of fresh or frozen blueberries or blackberries
1 cup of powdered sugar with 2-3 tablespoons lemon juice for the glaze
Preheat the oven at 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or use a baking stone.
Combine the dry ingredients. Make sure to grind the lavender buds with the sugar before adding. Cut the cold butter into small pieces and cut into the dry ingredients using a pastry cutter or fork until it forms fine crumbs. Whisk the egg, vanilla and milk together and fold into the crumbly mixture.
Sprinkle a little flour on your hands and form the dough into a ball. Place in the center of the baking sheet and flatten it until it is about an inch thick round. Cut into eight equal triangles but do not separate.
Bake for 15-18 minutes until slightly golden brown.
Allow to cool. Make the glaze by combining the powdered sugar and lemon juice. Separate the scones and drizzle with the glaze.
Garnish with lavender buds if desired.
- Kathie Kesterson