Monday, November 20, 2017

Baking Class: Lavender Soda Bread with Fleur du Maquis

We have wandered into the wonderful world of herbs in my spice group and the theme for our potluck this month was lavender.  I have never cooked with lavender and in all honesty never had much desire to do so, but I must admit it is an interesting herb and I have found myself playing with it since then.

I was pretty sure I wanted to put it into some kind of bread for the potluck but I have been busier than usual lately and did not have time to play with my sourdough or any other yeasted breads.  I thought about scones or cookies but I also wanted to stay away from sweet.

And then I thought about soda bread.  I usually make this savory version I got from the Food TV Network website.  It is a fast, easy, delicious recipe but the whole wheat combined with the soda is a flavor that I was afraid would clash with the lavender rather than be enhanced by it.  So from there I thought about this first soda bread recipe I ever made that was delicious but on the sweet side and not as healthy for daily consumption.

I thought it would be the perfect foil for the lavender.  I wanted it to be more savory than sweet so I omitted the sugar and the raisins.  It turned out exactly as I hoped it would, with that slightly sour flavor the baking soda imparts layered with the floral tones of the lavender.  I went to Pastoral with the hope that they might have a goat cheese with lavender but alas, there was not a bud of lavender to be found on any of their cheeses.

So I opted for a beautiful French soft herb-covered sheep's cheese called Fleur du Maquis (pictured above next to the bread).  When I sampled it I found that the herbs were flavorful but subtle and I decided that the cheese would be a good match for the lavender in the bread.

And it was.  They were a big hit.  If you are looking for something simple but sophisticated (and dead easy to make) that will feed a large group, you can't go wrong with this combination.

Home Cookin v9.70 Chapter: Breads and Muffins
Makes 1 large loaf

4 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 scant Tbsp culinary lavender, lightly crushed
4 Tbsp butter
2 cups buttermilk

Preheat the oven to 375° F. Combine flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and lavender. Cut butter into flour mixture with pastry cutter. Add buttermilk until dough is soft.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead for 5 minutes or until smooth. Form dough into a 9-inch round. Place on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Score with a cross 1/2-inch deep on the top.

Bake for 40 minutes, turning halfway through.

adapted from Larissa's Bread Book: Baking Bread:  Telling Tales with Women of the American South, by Lorraine Johnson-Coleman (Rutledge Hill Press, 2001)

Exported from Home Cookin v9.70 (

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