Sunday, September 22, 2013

Triumph and Failure, Hand in Hand

I have had a desire to make a "Tea Loaf" (like such things as Pumpkin Bread, Zucchini Bread, etc.) for a while now - using Lavender flowers. I had some cookies a few years ago with lavender flowers in them and I just didn't care for them all that much, despite the fact that I love the scent of lavender.

French Lavender Flowers
Regardless, I wanted to try this out and today just seemed to be the day. I sat down and created what appeared to be a workable recipe. There is always the chance that amounts will be off a bit; a little too runny of a batter needs a little more flour or other binding ingredient or if too thick it may need a little more liquid. As I made this recipe, the batter turned out just perfect. Most of these dessert or tea loaves have a fairly stiff batter, though still pliable enough to mix. The batter looked great and tasted heavenly, so I felt this was a huge success straight out of the mixing bowl.

I sprayed my loaf pan with nonstick cooking spray poured in the batter and baked the loaf. It rose beautifully, browned to perfection, got done all the way through. I left it in the pan to cool for 10 minutes as usual. I ran a knife around the edges. I tried to turn it out. . . . .  and the bottom stayed stuck in the pan, with the rest falling into chunks in my hand. The best laid plans, so they say. . . . .

Okay, so I have no lovely photo of this bread to put on the website, or here. I did take a photo of the mess (below) of what seemed to bode so well. The flavor did stand up to my expectations; it is just perfect. The lavender flavor is there, but nicely mild. The nuts give a nice texture. The color of the bread is lovely, despite the decidedly lavender color of the milk the lavender had soaked in. I believe this recipe would also make excellent muffins.

I will be making this recipe again, very soon. I will first spray the loaf pan and then line the pan with parchment and spray it again before pouring in the batter. Hopefully this will help avoid any sticking to the pan. In the meantime, here is the recipe for this wonderfully tasty tea loaf.
Delicious, but messy Lavender Nut Tea Loaf

Lavender Nut Tea Loaf

3 tablespoons lavender flowers
3/4 cup buttermilk
1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup chopped nuts (I used pecans)

Heat the buttermilk gently with the lavender flowers until it just comes to boil. Remove from heat and set aside to cool for 20 to 30 minutes. Prepare a medium loaf pan by spraying with cooking spray or grease with butter or shortening. Cut two pieces of parchment to line the pan with a little overhang. Spray or grease the parchment.

Sift or whisk together in a small bowl the flour, baking powder, soda and salt; set aside.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place the butter into the bowl of an electric mixer and beat until creamy. Add the sugar and beat until well incorporated. Add in the eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Add in the vanilla to combine.

Pour in half of the dry ingredients, mixing on low speed to combine. Add in half the milk and lavender and mix well, then add in the other half of the dry ingredients and them the wet, mixing after each addition. Add in the nuts to just distribute evenly. Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan and bake the loaf for 45 to 50 minutes or until a pick inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow to rest for 10 minutes before turning out of pan to cool on a rack.

My passion is to teach people how to create a harmony of flavors with their cooking, and help pass along my love and joy of food, both simple and exotic, plain or fancy. I continue my journey in ethnic and domestic cuisines, trying new things weekly. Join me at A Harmony of Flavors Website and Marketplace, Tumblr, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest. I am also on a spiritual journey and hope you will join me at my new blog, An Eagle Flies.