It is summer. The best part of summer: breezy, sunny, warm enough for a T-shirt and cool enough to leave the windows open instead of cranking the AC.
It is difficult to bake in the summertime. You have to be strategic about your choices if you’re going to commit to turning on the oven. Simple citrus and herbs will usually do it. But, I discovered today, so will florals. Specifically lavender.
And also honey. When in Chicago for my job last week, I discovered Chicago’s Downtown Farmstand, a sliver of a grocery store just a few blocks away from the Art Institute, where the only products sold are those made within 250 miles of the city. I found the most gorgeous-looking set of three honeys from Bron’s Bees and had to indulge.
And since the set included lavender honey, I knew I needed to try the lavender walnut scones I’d been dreaming about since they were posted on Joy the Baker. Even though my last experience venturing away from my tried-and-true scone recipe was admittedly unsatisfying, I couldn’t resist a recipe with toasted walnuts, crushed lavender, and so much baking powder I just had a feeling those things would stay tall and fluffy instead of disappointingly flopping over.
My suspicions were right. These scones are awesome. They are absolutely huge, flaky and buttery with plenty of give, and the buttermilk is exactly right, adding a much more interesting and unusual background to the floral lavender than heavy cream would. The toasted walnuts are just a heavy enough flavor to balance out the lightness of buttermilk and lavender.
And the glaze. Oh, it is heavenly. Especially with that Illinois lavender honey. Without the glaze, these scones are not sweet–they’re almost savory in a flowery kind of way–and although some folks might like them like that, I definitely prefer my sweets, well, sweet. On its own this glaze would be way too much, but sinking into the light scone, it is the perfect pairing.
Cut these scones huge, generously douse them with that glaze, and make yourself a cup of earl grey. Iced earl grey, of course. It’s still summer, after all–let’s not rush in winter with hot tea just yet.
Lavender Walnut Scones with Lavender Honey Glaze
Adapted from Joy the Baker
Makes 8-12 scones, depending on how big you shape them
1 tablespoon dried edible lavender
1/2 cup walnut pieces
3 cups all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
4 1/2 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp salt
12 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold
1 large egg
3/4 cup buttermilk, cold, plus more for brushing
Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Line baking sheet with parchment paper and spread walnuts on sheet evenly. Toast in oven for 4-5 minutes. Remove and allow to cool completely.
While the walnuts are cooling, measure lavender into a small prep bowl and use the back of your tablespoon to gently smush the lavender flowers to release fragrance and oils. (You can also use a mortar and pestle if you are fancy enough to own one!) Set aside.
Whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt, then whisk in the lavender. Cut your butter (European-style works beautifully here) into large blocks, then place into the flour mixture. Use a pastry cutter to cut the butter into the flour mixture until butter is in pebble to pea sized bits.
At this point, your walnuts should be cooled, so coarsely chop them and then add to the flour mixture, using a fork to mix them in.
Whisk together the egg and buttermilk in a separate bowl. Make a well in the center of the flour mixture and pour in the buttermilk mixture. Use a fork to gradually stir the two together; you may need to use your hands in the end to get everything incorporated.
Knead it a few times in the bowl, then turn out onto a floured surface and pat into a circle 1 inch thick. Cut into 8 pie slices. (You may want to cut the larger slices into two smaller triangles so they aren’t too big.)
Place slices onto cooled baking pan and brush tops with buttermilk. Bake for 12-15 minutes until lightly golden on top and firm in the middle. Remove and allow to cool completely before glazing.
For lavender honey glaze
1 cup powdered sugar, sifted
1 tablespoon lavender-infused honey, or regular local honey
1 tablespoon milk
Whisk together sugar, honey, and milk. Mixture will be thick, but don’t add too much extra milk or it will turn runny quickly. Spoon glaze over scones and sprinkle top with a few extra lavender flowers.