It’s spring around here and all manner of pretty flowers are blooming. There’s that morning perfume of nectar, dew and clean air. Afternoon showers. Butterflies. It’s as if the season’s all let me show you what I got. And so, of course, I have been eyeing the blossoms in my garden, some for the vase and some for the kitchen table. As in, how can I bake or cook with these beauties?
I know some people don’t enjoy eating flowers. Lavender, for example, reminds friends of mine of soap (to which I say: but such delicious soap!), and the peppery bite of nasturtiums makes others recoil. I get it. I have a similar aversion to caraway; I shudder to think of it. But I do love flowers: perfume-rich ones like rose and lavender, salad-friendly ones like rosemary and borage. Stunning, citrusy tuberous begonia. Bright yellow squash flowers. I’m pining for summer already.
[In case I’ve piqued your interest, here’s a great list of edible garden flowers.]
Serendipitously, Hannah sent me a link to a blog potluck featuring edible flower recipes and I got completely carried away feasting my eyes on them all. The ones that made me the most excited were the lilac recipes because it’s that one week in our garden when all the lilacs are out and gorgeous and the air smells like honey. I didn’t even know lilac flowers were edible. Of course, I promptly went out and sampled one. Perfume-y with soapy undernotes, just the way I like it. So when I found a recipe for lilac scones, I couldn’t whip out my pastry blender fast enough.
Scones are a lot of things to me. A calling, an obsession, a hobby, a perfect snack. I think I’d prefer a scone to just about anything else with tea. They are so versatile and comforting. Soft inside and a little crisp-crunchy outside. Maybe there are chocolate chips or dried fruit or fresh fruit or even jam baked into them. Maybe they need lashings of clotted cream and fruit preserves. Maybe my mouth is watering just typing this.
The following recipe is tweaked a little from this one. I added currants for interest and upped the liquid content. I found the flavour of my lilac flowers didn’t hold up as strongly as I thought it would, but it’s a nice subtle hint, and you could always add more to the scone dough; it wouldn’t hurt anything. I wonder if using freshly opened flowers, as opposed to ones a few days old, makes a difference. That said, just the act of snipping the branches and pulling off the cute little flowers was seasonal/colour therapy enough for me.
Adapted from Kitchen Vignettes by Aubergine
3 cups all-purpose, unbleached flour
1/3 cup granulated sugar, plus more for sprinkling
2 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
12 Tbs. salted butter, well chilled
1 1/3 cups full-fat buttermilk, well shaken
1 cup of lilac blossoms
2/3 cup currants
Preheat oven to 425°. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Over the bowl, cut butter into small bits, dropping them into the flour mixture as you go. Work the butter and flour together with a pastry blender, or your fingers, until butter is about pea-sized at its largest. Add the currants and lilac blossoms, removed from the stems (no green parts). Pour the buttermilk into the flour-butter mixture, and fold together until you can pull the dough into a rough ball (mix as little as possible). There may be some dry bits at the bottom of the bowl. Try to tuck those gently into the dough, or sprinkle on a little more buttermilk to incorporate everything. Dust the counter with flour and press the dough ball out into a half inch thickness. Cut into eight wedges and place on a greased or parchment-lined baking sheet. Sprinkle with sugar and bake until golden at the edges, around 12-16 minutes. Eat warm out of the oven or later that same day. These go well with marmalade.