It’s so hot.
We have all the doors and windows open but it seems to be making the house hotter rather than cooler, as well as inviting in all the wasps and flies in the neighbourhood. Heat incapacitates me, and I can’t do much other than lie around all day, moving sloth-like from one room to another. I’m not complaining exactly, I’m just not sure how anyone survives in places where this kind of temperature is standard.
A few weeks ago when it was about as warm as it is now, we visited our local lavender farm, and walked slowly between the rows of English lavender under the hot sun, watching the bees drift lazily from flower to flower. I love the smell of lavender, and the way it always makes me think of hot summers. But it’s only relatively recently that I’ve come across the concept of baking with it. We had a luxurious all-lavender afternoon tea in the shade, smelling lavender, tasting lavender, seeing lavender. Lavender shortbread, lavender fudge, lavender macarons, lavender scones, lavender cupcakes, lavender rolls with lavender honey, lavender cider, lavender tea, lavender lemonade. It came in a beautiful wooden crate with a complimentary bouquet of lavender.
The only lavender recipe here so far is my lemon + lavender cookie recipe which, incidentally, I made after last summer’s visit to the lavender farm. I still love those cookies, but I’ve learnt even more about baking with lavender since then, and thought I’d share a few tips for those who want to try using this fragrant summer flower but are scared it will taste like soap.
- less is more — you really only need a few teaspoons of dried or fresh lavender, no more! That’s enough to give a light, aromatic flavour without overpowering it.
- pair it with another strong flavour — not essential, but a good place to start your lavender baking adventures if you’re unsure about it all. Lemon is a good option as it compliments the lavender really well and lends a more familiar flavour to baked goods.
- get organic and freshly picked lavender if possible — better for you, better flavour etc than shop-bought pesticide-d stuff that’s sat on the shelf for a month
- grind it up finely if you’re concerned about getting a mouthful of flowers — I’ve actually never bothered and have had no problems, but it’s something you could consider
- consider starting with lavender sugar or lavender syrup if you’re unsure about the taste — this gives a more subtle, less direct flavour. Rubbing lavender with sugar or straining it into a syrup and then using that in a recipe is a good way to use lavender for the first time.
If you like lavender-flavoured things, or want to know what they’re like, these scones are perfect. They’re based on my original spelt scone recipe but adjusted to be lavender-focused.
- 325g wholegrain spelt flour
- 1 tbsp baking powder
- 50g coconut sugar
- 50g coconut oil
- 3 tsp fresh or dried lavender
- 1 tbsp vanilla essence
- 150g yogurt (Greek/natural/coconut/soy)
- 150ml milk of choice
- Preheat the oven to 220 degrees C (200 fan) and line a large baking sheet with greaseproof paper.
- In a large bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder and lavender.
- Cut in the coconut oil: I find it easiest to just rub it all together with my hands, until it’s all integrated and a breadcrumb-like consistency.
- Stir in the coconut sugar and sultanas.
- Add the milk, yogurt and vanilla essence, and mix well until everything is combined and a dough formed. Again, I find it easiest to use my hands to distribute the moisture effectively.
- Dust a clean work surface with spelt flour and sprinkle a little on a rolling pin. Roll the dough to about 1 inch thick and use a circular cutter to cut out 10 scones. Transfer carefully to the baking sheet.
- Bake for about 10 minutes, until lightly golden on top and cooked in the middle. Remove from the oven and transfer to a wire rack to cool.
- To make the jam: put the frozen raspberries in a saucepan over a medium high heat, and cover. Cook for about 10-15 minutes until the raspberries have cooked down into mushy liquid. Stir in the chia seeds and honey/sugar if you’re using any, and cook for another 5-10 minutes so that it’s quite thick. Take off the heat and leave to cool, then store in a sealed jar in the fridge.