This Lavender Lemonade is the perfect drink for long, lazy days in the sunshine. Freshly squeezed lemon juice and water with a stunning lavender sugar syrup over ice. Deliciously refreshing!Read more
I discovered last week that I have a slight addiction to lavender shortbread. A slight addiction being that I can demolish most of a packet in around 10 minutes. You really don't want to know the calory count of each biscuit. I thought I was pretty safe that this weird craving would be reserved for me - I mean my fussy boys would never eat these biscuits once they knew they had FLOWERS in them - and believe me, I was quick to emphasise that the purple speckles were FLOWERS. Wrong! They loved them as much as me *sighs with disappointment*.
I adore shortbread still warm from the oven. Freshly baked shortbread is just one of my absolute favourites. Whenever we go to anywhere with lovely little cafes (like National Trust venues) that sell fresh cakes and biscuits, I immediately make a beeline for the domed glass lidded cake stands in the middle and check out their shortbread offering, tailoring my meal to this little treat at the end. Although I love classic shortbread, the addition of lavender and lemon just adds a certain lift to the biscuit - it's just a hint of flavour - and the few people that have tried some of these home-baked biscuits said they were really moreish.
I posted a while back after my vain attempts to find dried lavender in shops that I could bake with. I struggled and so I decided that I'd grow my own lavender after this and my parents grow it in abundance in their garden. The lavender for these biscuits came from their crop and it is really lovely to be cooking with something you've grown yourself, even if it's only a small part of the overall bake.
This is a simple classic shortbread recipe. I like using rice flour in my shortbread as it gives an added crunch to the texture so this recipe uses a blend of plain flour and rice flour. The main thing to remember is not to overwork the dough. I also find that chilling the dough for 30 minutes or so (you don't want to leave it in the fridge for too long as it turns too hard and then you have to soften it again before using) really helps it keep shape before you roll it and use your cutters. I decided to use heart cutters as the biscuits I became so addicted to were heart-shaped but they would be great as any shape.
If you love shortbread as much as me, there's really nothing better than eating freshly baked. The dough can also be frozen (use your cutters to cut them into shapes and then freeze them at this point between layers of baking parchment) and defrost at room temperature for an hour. Super useful for any unexpected guests! You can also take this further and decorate them with royal icing although I like the simplicity of my biscuits so you can see the purple and yellow flecks throughout the biscuits. Or even change the flavour combinations like vanilla or orange.
Very happy I made enough to stash some in the freezer. They might just stay there until the summer holidays are over and school starts again. Party for one at my house!
Lavender & Lemon Shortbread Makes around 30 biscuits
- 250G SOFTENED BUTTER
- 100G GOLDEN CASTER SUGAR
- 250G PLAIN FLOUR
- 125G RICE FLOUR
- 2 TSP LAVENDER FLOWERS
- ZEST OF 1 LEMON
- Cream together the butter and sugar in a bowl
- Add the lavender and lemon and mix until combined (I added mine after the flour but it would have been better the combine them before this addition)
- Sift the flour and cornfour into a separate bowl
- Add the flours in 3 additions, mixing the dough briefly each time
- Gently knead the dough until it's smooth but be careful not to over-work it
- Wrap the dough in clingfilm and refrigerate for 30 minutes
- Preheat the oven to 160 degrees (fan)
- Lightly flour your work surface and roll out the dough until it's around ½cm thick
- Stamp out your shapes with your chosen cutters - I used hearts but circle or fluted edged cutters would work well or anything you really fancy
- Place the biscuits on 2 baking trays lined with baking paper, leaving a little space between each biscuit as they will swell slightly
- Bake for 15 to 20 minutes until lightly golden
- Remove from the oven and sprinkle with sugar
- Allow to cool for 10 minutes before transferring them to a cooling rack
Back to the big smoke after our mini-break in the countryside and we swapped flowers, animals and rolling hills for Kensington in the sunshine as we headed to the Science Museum for Space exploration! Great fun, but thoroughly exhausting - and hubby and I were relieved to collapse on the sofa by late afternoon :) I needed a pick-me-up, moreish and yummy - and healthy would be an added bonus.
After searching for lavender throughout the local stores and garden centres over the last couple of weeks (having decided not to order it online as it would take too long and then had to wait even longer to find it naturally) I found some last week at my parents' house. Dried lavender from last year's lavender crop in their garden and I only needed three-quarters of a teaspoon. It's been safely sitting in my bag for when I had enough time to make the second recipe I wanted to try from Hemsley & Hemsley, their Lavender & Maple Coconut Macaroons. I LOVE all the ingredients of these little macaroons, even though most shop assistants I approached when searching for the lavender to use in cooking looked at me like I was nuts.
This recipe is gluten and dairy free and the only sugar comes from the maple syrup so this is a healthy alternative to cookies and cakes. The macaroon itself is made predominantly from shredded coconut so for me, is very reminscent of the macaroons I enjoyed when growing up, when macarons (the deliciously almondy French variety I love so much) were a thing of distant dreams. As with many of my other bakes, I used liquid egg whites but you can use the whites of 3 medium eggs instead if you prefer. There is just the merest hint of lavender in these macaroons and I think this could be upped, probably to at least 1 tsp next time I make them. They don't take long to make, so provided you have the ingredients in your store cupboard, you can whip them up in no time for a lunchbox or afternoon treat.
I love these little macarons. There's not much about coconut I don't like, but I really like the pairing with maple syrup and the hint of lavender for a slightly more unusual twist. This is the second recipe I've made from Hemsley & Hemsley (see the Pumpkin Puds recipe here) and am hard pushed to say which I prefer more, so I forsee I will be making these two recipes many times over - just while I make my mind up, of course!
Lavender & Maple Coconut Macaroons Makes 18 (from Hemsley & Hemsley)
- APPROX ¾ TSP LAVENDER FLOWERS
- 4 TBSP MAPLE SYRUP
- ½ TBSP VANILLA EXTRACT
- 150G UNSWEETENED DESSICATED COCONUT
- 180G LIQUID EGG WHITES (OR EGG WHITES OF 3 MEDIUM EGGS)
- 1/8 TSP SALT
- Preheat the oven to 170 degrees and line two baking trays with parchment paper
- Finely chop the lavender and mix it with the maple syrup, vanilla extract and coconut in a large bowl
- In a separate bowl, whisk the egg whites with the salt until stiff peaks form
- Gently fold the egg whites in with the coconut mixture using a metal spoon
- Using a tablespoon measure, scoop the mixture onto the baking parchment and then neaten the mounds with your hands
- Bake for 12 to 15 minutes until the macaroons are lightly browned
- Remove them from the baking tray and place on a wire rack to cook (I used a slice to remove them as they were a bit sticky underneath but they came away easily)
- They are quite soft when they first come out of the oven, but firm up as they cool down!