How I’ve appreciated the smells of lavender growing in my garden this year reminding me of visits to Lavender farms across the UK and Provence in France. As well as being a beautiful plant, lavender is well known for its soothing scent and the calming benefits of its oil.
It’s a classic in the world of aromatherapy, soaps, creams and other personal care products. Lavender tea is popular as an aromatic caffeine-free alternative and Lavender ice milk is a gorgeous floral ice cream dessert. But, if truth be told, lavender is one of the best kept secrets in baking. When the flower buds of the plant were cut and dried, my Grandma used to make lavender sugar to flavour a wide range of teatime favourites such as scones, sponge cakes, buns and biscuits.
Grandma’s lavender sugar
Place the caster sugar in a bowl. For every 4oz/110g sugar, you will need a couple of tablespoonfuls of dried lavender flowers. Add 1 tablespoonful of the lavender to the sugar by pressing it through a sieve with your fingers or the back of a spoon. Put the sugar in a clean jar and add the other tablespoonful of lavender flowers to the jar. Cover the jar and shake well every couple of days. Leave for three to five days for the lavender to infuse into the sugar. Then it’s ready to use.
I’ve picked out one of my favourite recipes, Lavender shortbread biscuits to show you how to make a perfect sunny afternoon tea time treat.
Lavender shortbread biscuits
5oz/ 150g butter
8oz/ 225g plain flour
3oz/ 75g lavender sugar
1 yolk of egg
Rub the butter into the flour and add the sugar. Then add the egg yolk and work into the flour as quickly as possible, making a dry dough. The mixture must be kept dry. Roll out thinly and cut into rounds. Bake for 25 minutes in a slow oven. (300F, Mark 2, 150C).
If you haven’t got lavender in your garden, try and book a visit to a lavender farm to catch the last of the lavender before the season ends. I was lucky to visit the Mayfield Lavender Farm in Surrey early one Sunday morning recently. There are still farms open across the country with covid regulations in place, including Wolds Way Lavender near Malton. And if they haven’t been able to open yet (like Yorkshire Lavender), you can support them by purchasing products online.
I’m hoping I’ll be able to visit Yorkshire’s lavender farms next year and even go further afield to Provence, where they get creative and combine lavender with apricots to make a very tasty jam and delicious apricot tarts.
You can read more about Grandma Abson’s life, her passion for baking and recipes HERE. Or head over to @potsaway on Instagram to check out how Meryl and Patrick are back once again cooking together apart in #lockdown in Yorkshire and London.