I have a new story up at Zester Daily on how to use lavender as a culinary herb. Our own lavender bush out back has been harvested, dried and processed and is now waiting for inclusion in all manners of home baking, drinks and savory dishes. Enjoy!
In the meantime, I’d like to share my personal all-time favorite use of culinary lavender, which comes forth out of the oven at Red HIlls Market, in downtown Dundee, just 15 minutes from my home. There, the in-house baker makes a killer lavender blueberry gluten-free scone that will ruin you for all other scones.
Generally, there is no love lost between me and a scone. If scones had a subtitle, here’s what they might be:
Scones: Dry, inanimate dough droppings from hell
Scones: Soft puck, dry heart
Scones: A desert in dough
Scones: Taste your life crumbling before you
Scones: For when no other doorstop will do
Scones: Well, if I must.
Scones: No really, do you have any muffins?
Scones are not my go-to breakfast food. They’re the worst. THE WORST! The saddest waste of butter and flour and milk and sugar and other delicious-on-their-own ingredients to ever come out of a convection oven.
But here’s the thing. Everything that emerges from the pastry chef’s hands at Red Hills Market is a thing to behold in your mouth, so when I stopped in on a recent drive north and saw a single Blueberry Lavender Gluten-free scone sitting on the cafe’s pastry counter I screwed my courage and bought one.
It was the scone to seal the fate of all lesser scones, one that upended all memories. It was a scone that made me very, very angry.
This blueberry lavender gluten-free scone was a puck of contrasting textures, a soft, crumby, slightly sweet, moist interior that gives way to a dry, crackled, carbinado-sugar sprinkled crust. Dense but not doughy, substantial but nothing resembling a rock, it cradled its blueberries — fresh ones — in the pillowy folds of its interior landscape.
Scones: You’re doing it all wrong.
And then, it hit me in the nose. The lavender in the scone, which you can’t really see, wafts up through the back of your throat and makes an appearance in what feels like the place between your eyes.
As I devoured the thing, each marshmallow-sized piece seemed more and more like a call to arms, like someone waving an outsized flag above their heads and yelling: What is wrong with you people! These scones you have been making for us all of your lives, they are an abomination in butter! You’re telling me that with all we know about baking and ovens and ingredients and all of the accumulated experience of generations of scone-makers, you cannot continue to bake the lesser of this scone, this fist-sized scone, this perfect revolt of a scone, this SCONE MADE WITHOUT GLUTEN.
“This scone is ridiculous,” is what I said to the ladies at the cash register.
“We’ve been using words we can’t repeat about that scone all week,” one of them said.