A good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over....

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Oh, La, La, Lavender

Years ago when I came across the following recipe in the August/Sept 2008 Taste of Home magazine, I was intrigued about the prospect of cooking with lavender. My daughter's first baby shower was coming up and this recipe sounded perfect. After checking locally for edible grade lavender and finding none, I tried the vendor suggested in the recipe, Penzeys Spices, which turned out to be another exciting find!

Penzeys Spices has a wide selection of top grade spices and once on their mailing list, send a colorful catalog which not only displays and educates about their spices but also includes delicious recipes from their readers. When I called to place the order, the rep was very pleasant and helpful and a very reasonable $4.95 later brought a 4oz bag of edible grade lavender right to my door! Four ounces may not sound like a lot, but trust me, it is a lot of lavender but keeping it double-bagged in a cool, dry place, it is as fragrant and fresh as when purchased over two years ago.

We tried this delicious moist and flavorful cake again recently and with holiday gift giving in mind, I decided to try baking it in miniature loaf pans. It is just as delicious made in the bread pans and well worth the effort to locate the lavender.

Almond Lavender Cake
Lillian Julow, Gainesville, FL Taste of Home Magazine Aug/Sept 2008

2 cups sugar, divided
1/2 cup slivered almonds
1 TBLS plus 1 teas dried lavender flowers, divided
1 cup butter, softened
4 eggs
2 teas vanilla extract
1 8oz cup sour cream
1/4 cup half and half cream
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 teas baking soda
1/2 teas salt
4 teas boiling water
3/4 cup confectioners' sugar
Additional dried lavender flowers, optional

Grease a 10-inch fluted tube pan and sprinkle with sugar, set aside. Place 1/2 cup sugar, the almonds and 1 TBLS lavender in a food processor, cover and process until finely ground.
In a large mixing bowl, cream butter and remaining sugar until light and fluffy; beat in almond mixture until combined. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in vanilla.
In a small bowl, combine sour cream and half and half. (In another bowl) Combine flour, baking soda and salt, add to the creamed mixture alternately with sour cream mixture, beating well after each addition.

Pour into prepared pan. Bake at 350 for 55-60 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near center comes out clean. Cool 10 mins before removing from pan to wire rack to cool completely.
For drizzle, combine boiling water and remaining lavender in a small bowl. Steep for 5 mins. Strain, discarding lavender. In another small bowl, combine confectioners' sugar and enough infused water to achieve desired consistency; drizzle over cake. Garnish with additional lavender, if desired. 12 servings.

Almond Lavender Mini Cakes

Follow the basic recipe above except grease and sugar 4 mini bread pans and one full size bread pan (or 6 mini pans). Divide the batter among pans, filling small pans first, about 3/4's full and spoon remaining batter into large pan. Bake at 350 for 30 to 40 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean. Cool in pans 10 mins, remove to wire rack and cool completely before adding glaze. Garnish with additional lavender, if desired, but do so quickly and press down gently. Glaze dries very fast! If not eating or giving away immediately, wrap tightly in plastic wrap, then foil and store in freezer. Let thaw and come to room temperature before serving.

Now, what to do with all that left over lavender.....how about some

Lavender Shortbread Cookies
adapted from Martha Stewart Living

1 cup unsalted butter,* room temperature
2 cups all purpose flour
3/4 teas salt
1/2 cup confectioners' sugar
1 teas almond extract

Almond Crunch Topping
1/4 cup slivered almonds
1/4 cup sugar
2 teas lavender

Lavender Glaze
1/3 cup boiling water
1 cup confectioner's
2 teas lavender
*If using salted butter, lower salt to 1/2 teas.

Preheat oven to 325. Butter or lightly spray (wipe off excess) 2 cookies or baking pans.
In a food processor, combine almonds, sugar and lavender and process until finely ground. Transfer to small bowl and set aside.

Sift together flour and salt in a small bowl, set aside. In large bowl, cream butter until fluffy, about 4 mins. Add sugar and continue to beat, 2 to 3 mins, until fluffy and light in color, scraping sides of bowl as needed. Beat in almond extract. Add flour mixture and beat on low until flour is incorporated and dough sticks together. Roll into 1-inch balls, then roll in almond mixture. Set aside remaining almond mixture. Refrigerate 20 mins. Bake until cookies are firm and just beginning to brown. Cool on pan 5 mins, then remove to wire rack to cool completely.

To prepare glaze, add lavender to a tea strainer and set inside small bowl, pour boiling water over, cover tightly and steep for 5-8 minutes (water should be light lavender in color and fragrant). Add by teaspoons to sugar (about 3 to 4) and mix until smooth. Dip tops of cookies in glaze and then in remaining almond crunch mixture. Set aside to dry. Store covered at room temperature. Makes approximately 40 cookies.

These cookies are very flaky and melt-in-your-mouth. If you prefer a crunchy shortbread, substitute granulated sugar for the confectioners'.

So have any of you tried cooking/baking with anything unusual and out of the norm? Would love to hear about anything new and different!

Happy Baking!


Anonymous said...

oohhh thank you for the wonderful lovely goodies!! And now I can have the recipes as well. Thank you thank you!!

Anonymous said...

The hubby is mad because he went to sneak a lavender shortbread cookie from the tin and they were gone! LOL! I don't think he realized exactly how many he had been sneeking! Thank you again!