The lovely tall arched blossom wands of my lavender plants have been winking and waving at me lately with their most seductive “come hither” look. It’s their last hurrah of the season and they want to be memorialized, not left high and dry.
In that spirit, I went online and visited a few of my fellow food writers and bloggers to see what they were doing with lavender. Over at http://www.seriouseats.com/, an Italian Lavender Honey Spice Cake caught my attention; I’ve always been a sucker for French honey spice cake. Another promising idea for Lavender Syrup, came from http://www.cafejohnsonia.blogspot.com/.
I have some thoughts on Lavender Syrup. Lavender is known for its therapeutic and medicinal qualities, and can become seriously intense when overdone. This particular syrup is well balanced and intoxicatingly mild. It’s so enjoyable, that I have concocted a refreshing cooler which takes advantage of my current supply of Lavender Syrup: in a glass, muddle 1-2 Tbsp. Lavender Syrup and a sprig of mint, add ice and top it off with Sparkling Water with Lemon Essence.
1/2 cup prunes (dried plums), about 10 large, seeded & lightly chop
1/4 cup hazelnuts, chopped, toasted
1 tablespoon fennel seeds, toasted
1 1/2 cups flour, optional: substitute 1/2 cup wheat flour
1/2 cup cornmeal
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon allspice
2 large eggs
2/3 cup sugar
2 tablespoons butter, melted, cooled
2 tablespoons olive oil or vegetable oil
1/2 cup yogurt, or sour milk
1 teaspoon vanilla or almond extract
1/2 cup Lavender Syrup (see below)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray 9×5″ loaf pan.
Combine prunes, nuts and fennel and set aside. Combine dry ingredients thru allspice and set aside.
Let the loaf stand briefly, then poke the loaf with a skewer. Slowly drizzle the syrup over the loaf. Let stand 10-15 minutes to allow syrup to soak in and remove the cake from pan. Cool on rack.
Wrapped well, this cake improves with age; if possible, allow the flavors to blend at a least a day or two.cafejohnsonia.blogspot.com
2 cups water
1 cup sugar
2-3 tablespoons lavender leaves or flowers
dash vanilla extract
Bring water and sugar to a boil, stir to dissolve, and simmer to thicken slightly, about 30 minutes.
Add lavender to syrup, remove from heat and let stand about 15 minutes; reheat to just below boiling point again and let stand about 15 minutes, repeat one more time, remove from heat and stir in vanilla; allow to steep until cool. Strain into bottle. Add a clean long stem of lavender for decoration if desired. Store in fridge. Let stand a couple of days before using.
Note: Culinary lavender may also be found at http://www.penzeys.com/