I've been waiting patiently for the lavender to burst into flower so that I can make these biscuits. On my daily walk around the village I've eyed up the bounteous supplies tumbling over the sides of garden walls. At last the flowers have awakened and the air is scented with a potent perfume. As far as I was aware we didn’t own a lavender plant so, as I only required two tablespoonfuls of the flowers and leaves, I was sorely tempted to head out at dead of night and pinch a few springs from our neighbours’ garden!! Just as I was contemplating a suitable disguise, Neil discovered that we had a very small lavender plant in our back garden. Hooray! Just before I started the biscuits on the Friday evening, I headed out into the garden to pick the flowers. My first challenge was to find the plant. Our garden is compact to say the least, but I still had to carry out a prolonged search. Finally I stumbled across the tiniest lavender plant I have ever seen. I doubted there was enough to fill a teaspoon but I picked all that I could, rendering the poor plant completely bald!
Once back inside I plucked the flowers and tiny leaves from the lavender stalks. I'd collected more than I had thought, but I still had only half of the total amount. I considered abandoning the recipe but decided that, as I'd never eaten anything containing lavender before, it might be wise to start off with a mild flavour. I carried on and weighed a generous amount of butter into a mixing bowl. The flowers and leaves were next to follow. Mary says to beat the two together as this will obtain the maximum flavour from the lavender. It smelt rather as though a bottle of perfume had been spilt nearby; the smell was intense and quite overwhelming!
To sweeten the mixture I poured in a relatively small quantity of caster sugar. I gave it a final beating before stirring in the flour. Due to the large amount of butter it didn't take long to bring the mixture together to form a soft dough. It was smooth in next to no time; it performed beautifully from start to finish. It was so nice not to be left with sticky hands! I divided the dough in half and rolled it into two sausage shapes. I grabbed the Demerara sugar and sprinkled a good quantity on to a sheet of greaseproof paper. Now I could roll the 'sausage' of dough through the coarse sugar until it was evenly coated. It was time to wrap the sugary dough in the paper and store it in the fridge. I repeated the same process with the remaining dough. While they firmed up in the cold fridge, I prepared a quick evening meal. By the time we had scoffed our food, the two 'sausages' had firmed up and were ready to be sliced. I must have rolled my dough too long and thin as I made a few more than Mary suggests. Now there's a first; normally I don't make enough! The sliced biscuits made their way onto the greased baking trays and into the hot oven. I'd been instructed to space the biscuits well apart on the trays but I think I could have fitted more on as they didn't spread as much as I had expected.
I was really worried about burning the biscuits, so I stayed close by while they cooked. A lovely scent wafted from the oven; they smelt delicious. Once cooked, I carefully transported the biscuits over to a wire rack to cool. I couldn't resist trying one while it was still warm. With my first bite I really loved the buttery flavour and crumbly texture. With my second bite I recoiled. It tasted as though I'd licked a bar of soap! I must have had more than my fair share of lavender in that mouthful! It is definitely an acquired taste. Neil thought the biscuits were a little on the soapy side, but he kept going back for more. I wasn't sure what to make of them. The biscuits themselves were delicious but I just couldn't enjoy the lavender flavour! I took them on a trip to London the following day where I met up with some truly lovely cakey friends. We all agreed that it was a good job I didn't have a larger lavender plant as any more would have been too much. The texture and butteryness of the biscuits was enjoyed and they certainly went down well with our morning cup of tea.
I feel sure that I will make these biscuits again but will omit the lavender!! This is another recipe that comes down to personal taste. I have heard rave reviews from other bakers who really enjoy the fragrant flavour. You won't know unless you try!