18 Jul 2015
Biscuits, bees and lavender
Shall we just pretend for a moment that the grey skies of the past week haven't happened? It's not been very summery over the last week although, once outdoors, I've been surprised how humid it feels despite grey skies and drizzling rain. But enough of all that. Let's pretend that it's a glorious warm and mellow summer's day - a perfect day for relaxing in the garden with some iced lemonade and homemade biscuits, listening to the bees busily collecting nectar from the nearby lavender bushes. Hmmm. Biscuits + Lavender. Now there's a thought.
Lavender is definitely the top summer plant in my garden for attracting bees, the bushes are in constant motion with bees landing and taking off again from the flowers. But they're not just a pretty face - there's a lot more that lavender is good for. The dried leaves and flowers can be mixed with rice to make aromatic microwave-able handwarmers; fabric pouches filled with lavender flowers can scent clothes or be tucked under a pillow for good night's sleep; the oil is soothing, calming and healing; lavender spikes make lovely cut flowers (cut when half to one-third of the flowers are open and cut above a pair of leaves) and, of course, the flowers are edible.
I came across this recipe while skimming through a Mary Berry book due for return to the library: Lavender biscuits, how intriguing. And there's something so dependable about Mary Berry that I instinctively trust her recipes. This recipe calls for 2 tablespoons of fresh lavender flowers and/or leaves. Ever one to expand my repertoire of what to do with edible flowers, I decided to make a batch for the blog.
First task was to gather flowers and photos. This part of making the biccies took a while; I'm easily distracted from the task in hand when watching bees and hoverflies and came back with many photos, mostly of blurred bees.
Back indoors, I'd left the butter to soften and already weighed out the other ingredients so it was just a case of stripping the stems, finely chopping the flowers and putting it all together which took hardly any time at all. Don't waste the stems - when used as skewers for grilling meats they'll add subtle flavour and can also be used to gently fragrance the dying embers of the barbecue or winter fire.
The biscuits are baked on two trays but, instead, I used one tray twice. Just as well, as I thought the first batch (lavender only) tasted a bit 'soapy'. I added a grating of lemon zest to the second batch which made a much better and very tasty biscuit. Of course, that could just be me. I recommend you try them. Even without lavender, the biscuits are a lovely open 'shortbread' texture and keep well in an airtight jar. Oh, and don't skimp on the Demerara sugar - it gives a lovely sweet crunch to the biscuit.
Recipe here on my Google drive - download for printing, if you wish.