Thursday, April 19, 2012

Lavender biscuits with lemon and yoghurt, for a refined afternoon tea

When I experimented with vegan cheesecake earlier this year, you may recall that lavender and lemon was one of the flavours that I settled on became obsessed with making. So much so that when I couldn't find culinary lavender, I picked some lavender from a neighbour's garden and used that instead (!).

This lavender focus came, in part, from seeing recipes around the web for raw lemon and lavender cheesecakes. However, there was another contributing factor too. Back in 2010, Mr Bite and I stopped at The Lavender and Berry Farm cafe near Pemberton, in the south-west of Western Australia. The cafe offers Devonshire teas and one of the scone flavours available is lavender.


When we visited, I am afraid that neither of us was adventurous enough to try the lavender scone. It did intrigue me though, and in the way that things sometimes do, lavender has been lingering in my imagination ever since.

Lavender garnish, but no lavender scone...

After my vegan cheesecake post, I was fortunate to receive an email from Lavender World in the UK, a company that ships culinary lavender worldwide. They offered to send me a complimentary packet so that I could enjoy lavender products without needing to raid neighbours' gardens. They also explained that culinary lavender is slightly more subtle in flavour than the freshly picked variety, and less likely to provide a bitter aftertaste.


As you might imagine, I was delighted by this offer and was grateful to receive a packet by mail shortly before we went to Exmouth.


Given my memory of the lavender scone that never was, I had intended to try out the culinary lavender in lavender scones. At the last minute, though, I changed my mind to biscuits. I like scones best when they are fresh, and with a house full of chocolate and leftover birthday cake, a product that didn't need to be eaten quickly seemed like a more sensible choice.


There is a recipe for lavender tea cookies in Colleen Patrick-Goudreau's The Vegan Table; effectively a shortbread recipe with the addition of lavender and some lemon. I'm not a big fan of shortbread biscuits, so I adapted Colleen's recipe to reduce the butter, add yoghurt, and also use lemon juice instead of lemon zest.

The result?


I was blown away by these biscuits. Absolutely smitten. For someone who doesn't even like biscuits very much, these drew me in and captured my tastes completely. The lavender flavour was detectable, but also subtle - I could tell the difference from when I used fresh flowers. The lemon provided contrasting undertones and the biscuits themselves were dense, but slightly less rich than shortbread.

Mr Bite enjoyed them too and these will definitely, definitely, be biscuits that I'll make again.



Lavender biscuits (cookies) with lemon and yoghurt

Subtle, delicately flavoured biscuits that are perfect for serving to guests...or for keeping to yourself
Makes about 24 small biscuits
Vegan if you use non-dairy yoghurt


Ingredients
1/2 cup non-dairy spread or butter (I used Nuttelex)
1/2 cup white sugar
1 tbsp dried culinary lavender
1 tsp lemon juice
1 1/4 cups plain flour
2 tbsp cornstarch
Pinch salt
1 tsp vanilla
2 tbsp plain, thick yoghurt (I used non-fat, pot-set, dairy yoghurt)

Method
Cream the non-dairy spread / butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the lavender and lemon juice and stir to combine.

Add the flour, cornstarch, salt, vanilla and yoghurt to the creamed sugar mixture. Stir well to combine. The mixture should come together as a thick dough.

Wrap dough in cling wrap and place in the fridge for ~30 minutes. Preheat the oven to 170'C and prepare two baking trays. Distract yourself as you see fit (kitchen dancing is optional).

Roll out the dough between two sheets of baking paper, to approximately 6mm (1/4 inch) thickness. Cut into shapes using cookie cutters or a small glass. Place on baking trays lined with baking paper and bake for 18 - 20 minutes, until the biscuits are just turning golden at the edges.

Cool on the tray for a few minutes, then transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely.


I promise you, these biscuits will make your heart sing.


I can see lavender scones on my horizon soon too!

Thank you to Lavender World for providing the culinary lavender used in this recipe. Whilst they provided the lavender for free, the opinions are of course my own.

Have you baked with lavender? Or tried lavender scones?

22 comments:

  1. I am so pleased you are obsessed with lavender - I have a little stash - nothing like your huge bagful - and keep meaning to bake with lavender more so I need a little reminder every now and again - in fact lavender scones are on my list of things to try - but so far the only thing I have tried is a lavender and orange syrup cake which was amazing but the lavender was subtle.

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    1. Lavender and orange syrup cake really does sound amazing. It seems there is something about the lavender-citrus combination that just takes off! We can see which of us makes it to lavender scones first :)

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  2. I have to admit, lavender is one of those things I just can't do as a food. It is too much a perfume for me and I can't get past it which is sad because it is so pretty. Oh well, I guess we aren't meant to love everything.

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    1. Very true :) I'm impressed you have tried it as this year is the first time I have!

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  3. Kari that is a HUGE bag of lavendar... well it looks it anyway. I'm intrigued by the taste in cooking. It does seem just the thing for a very refined afternoon tea, (I hope you didn't slurp your tea :-)

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    1. I didn't slurp but I did drink out of a mug :-)

      It really is a huge bag. I think I'll be set for lavender products for life!

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  4. okay, not only do those look just way too adorable but they look darn tasty too. :) i've never baked with lavender, or done much baking to speak of at all...lol...but i'd say if i had my pick i'd DIVE into some lavender scones any day. :)

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    1. Thanks Cait :) I think diving into lavender scones sounds pretty divine actually!

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  5. Your bikkies look great and sound so interesting! I have seen a few recipes around that use lavendar and made plans use some from my garden last year but only got as far as drying the lavendar out. After reading your post I'm thankful that I didn't try this now as it may not have turned out as it was supposed to. I've been intrigued by using violets in cooking too after sampling violet ice-cream years ago.

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    1. Violet ice cream - that is something I've never heard of! I'm rather intrigued by the concept too.

      Your dried lavender probably would work if you just used a little? It's just stronger so a tiny touch might go ok.

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  6. Oooh you fancypants lady! Lavender all the way from the UK, woot woot! :D I adore lavender in sweet things but have never cooked with it, on account of my lack of culinary lavender. One day :)

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    1. This is probably as close as I'll ever come to being a fancypants lady :) It is an amazing flavour, I'm so glad I did ultimately try it.

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  7. Oh my goodness these look good! I love lemon in anything, but I have never tried lavender. :)

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    1. They do make for an amazing flavour pair, lemon and lavender!

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  8. I adore the lavender-lemon combination. I once made a milkshake using the two, and needless to say, it made my life. Haha. I love the use of the combination here in your biscuits!

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    1. Oh wow! A milkshake with these flavours would be quite mind blowing :)

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  9. Never baked with lavender but these look absolutely delicious!

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  10. Lavender, lemon and yoghurt? My lips thank you. I don't have any but I know where to get culinary lavender. These are SO mine. :)

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    1. I hope you enjoy them! I only have a few biscuits left and I'm trying to savour them now...and wishing I hadn't eaten so many so quickly earlier in the week!

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  11. Whoa, yum! Those look divine!!! :) I've never used lavender in cooking before, but it looks so pretty.

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