Friday, 1 April 2011

Lavender-Lemon Tea Cakes

There's this local ice cream company that makes a lot of interesting flavours. Sure, they have the usual things like chocolate and vanilla custard, but they also have things like raspberry-honey ice cream and creme fraiche gelato. The other day, a friend brought over a pint of lavender ice cream and I was reminded of just how delightful lavender tastes against such a sweet, creamy background. It also reminded me that I'd had that flavour once before, paired with one of the things that could make it even better - bright, citrusy lemon custard. And while ice cream is delicious any time of year (a fact which has been proven by my boyfriend, who will curl up, shivering, with a pint of Ben & Jerry's in the dead of winter), it doesn't exactly bring spring to mind.

Lemons and lavender, however, do - at least to me, the delicate herbal flavour of lavender and the bright, fresh taste of lemons seem perfect for a sun-filled spring day. I wanted to combine them in something that seemed equally spring-y. Despite the sun, it's still pretty cold here...so it doesn't hurt to have something that goes nicely with a hot cup of tea as well. Somewhere between a scone and a shortbread biscuit, these little tea cakes fit the bill and are sure to bring some sunshine to your table.

Lavender-Lemon Tea Cakes

**(Still only volume measurements for now - getting a new scale soon though!)**

1/2 c brown rice flour
1/2 c white rice flour
1/2 c tapioca starch
3/8 c Expandex modified tapioca
2 T sweet rice flour
1 T millet flour 
1 T chestnut flour
2 tsp potato flour (not potato starch)

2 T sugar
1/8 tsp sea salt
1 tsp psyllium husks
3/8 tsp Pomona's pure citrus pectin
1 T double-acting baking powder

6 T (3 oz.) butter, cold
60 mL cream
50 mL milk
3 T light honey
1 medium egg (50 mL) (Can be made without the egg - just increase other liquids slightly)
2 tsp dried food-grade lavender 
1 1/2 T lemon zest (about 2 lemons - I used one Meyer lemon and one regular lemon)
50 mL lemon juice

Method:
Mix flours, sugar, salt, baking powder, and psyllium and pectin in a bowl and set aside. In a small saucepan, heat the cream, milk, and honey - do not bring to a boil, but make sure it gets quite hot. Stir the lavender into the hot mixture, cover, and allow to infuse for 30 minutes. (After 30 min, strain the liquid to remove lavender, and chill it.) Meanwhile, zest and juice the lemons. 
Lavender buds infusing in the sweet milk mixture

Cut the cold butter into the flour mixture until it is in small pieces, then rub it into the flour using your fingers until the mixture looks like small crumbs. Stir in the zest. Next add in the chilled lavender-milk infusion, the beaten egg (if using), and finally the lemon juice. Blend lightly with a spatula until the dough is uniform and soft. On a baking sheet lined with parchment, roll or pat the dough out to a thickness of ~ 1 inch/2.5 cm. Cut the dough into shapes using a glass or a biscuit cutter.

Brush the tops of the cakes with milk and decorate with extra sugar and lavender buds. Bake at 190ºC/375ºF for approx. 20 minutes, or until the cakes are very lightly browned.

Now pour yourself some tea and enjoy! These are also delicious with honey or some sweetened whipped cream.

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