I was recently invited to escape the city to spend a weekend in Montauk with very close friends of the family. They have a beautiful home right on the Atlantic Ocean, and we spent the days lying on the soft white sand, and the nights laughing and reminiscing over dinner on the picturesque deck overlooking the water. This place is heaven on earth, you can fall asleep listening to the waves crash on the beach, and wake up to the bright sunshine reflecting on the vast dark blue ocean. It’s the kind of place where you can truly escape, no cell phone service, no TV, no need to pack anything but shorts, a t-shirt and a bathing suit. It’s a place where you’re really able to let go, which is what I call the perfect getaway.
I’m a firm believer that if you are invited into someone’s home, particularly a beautiful, seaside escape, you should never show up empty handed. When I’m in a bind I’ll resort to a nice bottle of wine or something I know the host likes, but I always try my best to bake up something homemade to bring along if I can. In my opinion, homemade is always better than store bought, and I wanted to make something particularly special for the occasion, because this is a truly special place.
I thought about bringing a dessert, but the host is an amazing cook and usually has lunches and dinners covered, so I thought it would be fun to bring a breakfast item. Searching the web, I came across this recipe for a lavender walnut scone, which sounded so delicate and unique, I thought it would be really fun to try. Lavender usually makes me think of bath soaps and candles, and so I had no idea what it would actually taste like.
Luckily, I was pleasantly surprised, as these turned out absolutely delicious. The lavender doesn’t so much provide a distinct taste (my mom said it sort of reminded her of cardamon), but more a distinct smell, a perfume-y, aromatic smell that mixes really well with the sweet smell of butter and sugar. The scone itself turned out really most and crumbly, which is what you’d want in a scone. Too often I find scones to be dry and chalk-like. I was really pleased with these. Plus, I can’t tell you how amazing my apartment smelled while these were baking. If they could bottle that up into a perfume or candle I’d stock up on that immediately. I guess I’ll have to keep baking things with lavender to keep my apartment smelling delicious, in all senses of the word.
Note: Dried lavender can be found at most specialty stores or spice markets. It can also be bought online if you’re having trouble finding it in the store. If you’d prefer not to go the lavender route, these scones could be easily adapted into lemon walnut scones (substitute the lavender with the zest of one lemon), orange walnut (substitute with orange zest) or cranberry walnut, just add 3/4 of cranberries and sub out lavender. Get creative, I promise it won’t let you down.
Lavender and Toasted Walnut Scones
Adapted from Joy the Baker
Makes ~15 scones
- 1 tb dried lavender
- 1 cup walnut halves
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 3 tbs granulated sugar
- 4 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 3/4 tsp salt
- 3/4 (1 1/2 sticks) butter, chilled, cut into small pieces
- 1 large egg
- 3/4 cup buttermilk, cold
- 1 cup powdered sugar, sifted
- 1 tbs honey
- 1 – 1 1/2 tbs milk
Scones: Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Place walnuts on a baking and toast in the oven for about 5 minutes, until they are slightly browned. Do not burn.
Using a mortar and pestle (or the back of your knife on a cutting board), grind the dried lavender to release the oils and fragrances. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Add the lavender and whisk together. Add the butter and use your hands to incorporate with the flour, until the butter and flour mixture resembles course cornmeal. Toss in the walnuts until they are evenly distributed.
Whisk together the egg and buttermilk. Create a well in the middle of the flour mixture, and add the egg and buttermilk mixture. Use a fork to incorporate the ingredients, until the flour mixture is completely moistened.
Dump the dough onto a floured work surface, and knead and flatten until the dough is 1 inch thick. Cut the dough into small rectangles about 1 inch by 2 inch and place on cookie sheet. Brush the top of the rectangles with buttermilk, and bake in the oven for 10-12 minutes, until lightly browned. Let cool completely before adding the glaze.
Honey Glaze: Whisk together powdered sugar, honey and milk. Spoon glaze over each scone so to is completely covered, and sprinkle with a few lavender pieces.