I love lavender! I grow several varieties in my garden and look forward to the first hot day of the year when you get a waft of lavender scent on the air and know that summer is truly here. Lavender Shortbread is an excellent way of capturing the essence of this beautiful, fragrant plant.
Lavender has many culinary uses and its fragrance works well in a variety of sweet and savoury dishes. However, you do have to be a bit careful though as lavender is a very strongly scented plant and, if you use too much, it can overwhelm other flavours. For this reason, I think it is best used on its own rather than in combination with other aromatics.
Plain shortbread is delicious – it should have a fairly soft, crumbly texture – but it also makes great vehicle to showcase a range of flavours, including lavender, rose geranium, thyme, rosemary and lemon verbena. It is a great accompaniment to a cup of tea or coffee and is also a good partner with ice-cream or sorbet.
The English word lavender is thought to be derived either from Old French lavandre which is taken from the Latin lavare “to wash” which refers to the practice of using it in infusions or from the Latin livere “blueish” in reference to its colour. Lavender (“nard” in Hebrew) is mentioned in the Song of Solomon.
It was introduced into England in the 1600s. At that time, it was used to make herb tea which was appreciated for its taste and for its medicinal properties. It was also used to make a conserve which was prized by members of the aristocracy including, allegedly, Queen Elizabeth 1. Although lavender is often now associated with southern French cuisine, it was not widely used until the turn of the 20th century and its use was popularised only later by its inclusion in the 1970s in herbes de Provence, a blend of herbs invented by spice wholesalers.
These crumbly shortbread biscuits, delicately flavoured with lavender, are fantastic as an accompaniment to ice-cream or sorbet – or just with a cup of tea!
- 125 g butter
- 55 g sugar
- 100 g plain flour
- 20 g cornflour
- 60 g ground almonds
- 4 fresh lavender buds (or 2 tablespoons culinary lavender)
- Set your oven to 200 C/400 F/Gas Mark 6.
- Cream the butter and sugar together.
- Add the flour, cornflour and ground almonds and combine.
- Detach the small lavender flowers from their stalks and add them to the mixture.
- Roll out the shortbread dough to a thickness of approximately 0.5 cm.
- Use a cookie cutter to cut out shapes from the dough.
- Put the dough shapes onto a greased baking tray.
- Bake the shortbread dough shapes for 15 minutes. They will be done when they are firm to the touch and light golden in colour.
- Remove from the oven and transfer to a cooling rack.
If you are using fresh lavender buds, make sure that they have not been treated with any chemicals. Do not use shop-bought flowers unless they are specifically designated as “culinary lavender”.
Keywords: lavender, shortbread, lavender shortbread, lavender biscuits, lavender hearts, lavender cookies
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