Warm up a cold, dark morning with these cranberry ricotta scones! They are rich and moist, with the ricotta cheese giving them extra depth of flavor and texture, and dried cranberries and a teaspoon of ginger adding sweetness and spice. A warm, tender scone with a hot cup of coffee or tea is one of my favorite ways to add comfort and cheer to life.
Make a weekend breakfast special with this lovely berry breakfast cake. It’s full of fresh blueberries and black raspberries, and it’s sweetened with the subtle flavor of homemade lavender sugar–a taste of summer in every bite!
The lavender in our garden is thriving. I’m kind of surprised, considering how hot and dry this past month has been, but I am happy to see it. It is gorgeous and it smells so good! I’ve been wanting to use it in some way, and then recently I came across a post by Laurie, of the blog ten.times.tea, for lilac sugar. The lilac sugar sounded so good and looked so pretty, it made me want to try lavender sugar. I found that there is lots of information out there about making your own lavender sugar. What a fun and simple way to use lavender, and what a subtle flavor the lavender gives the sugar. You can use lavender sugar to sweeten tea or flavor lemonade, and you can use it in baking.
At the same time that I have been wanting to use my lavender, I have been wanting to bake with fresh berries–the blueberries that are in season now, and the black raspberries growing wild all over my yard. So I made this lovely berry breakfast cake, sweetened with my own homemade lavender sugar. It is so delicious and festive for a summer breakfast! The breakfast cake recipe comes from one of my favorite cookbooks, Hollyhocks & Radishes by Bonnie Stewart Mickelson. The only thing I changed was that I used a combination of blueberries and black raspberries, and I used lavender sugar instead of traditional white sugar, and butter from grass-fed cows instead of vegetable shortening. I am very happy with the result! The lavender sugar is not essential in this recipe–if you don’t have extra time, conventional sugar can be used just fine, and any kind of fresh berries would work.
The Hollyhocks & Radishes cookbook is such a gentle reminder of the beauty in using the food growing around us, and also the simple elegance of hospitality. Such a simple gesture as making a cake or a salad or a plate of sandwiches for others can be so satisfying to both the giver and the receivers. We have had the opportunity to extend some old-fashioned hospitality to a variety of people this past week, and it has been so much fun to get together with old friends who now live far away, and to have friends of our kids in our house and around our table.
Life can get very fast-paced and over-scheduled these days, and it’s so nice to slow down sometimes to cook and bake, to pick lavender and make lavender sugar, or spend the whole afternoon at a nearby lake. To eat breakfast on the porch or a picnic dinner at a park, and let the dinner and conversation last till dark. Sometimes it takes guests and hospitality to make us slow down, and what would we do without it. We need to do more of it.
I hope you all have a great weekend! It is mid-summer, and feels every bit of it to me. I look forward to checking out some new recipes at Angie’s Fiesta Friday this week! If you are ever in a food rut, that is a great place to go to check out some really interesting blogs.
Pick a handful of lavender. Remove the blossoms and buds from the stems and measure out 2 tablespoons. **If you wash the lavender, or if it is damp when you pick it, make sure it is completely dry before you combine it with the sugar. (If you don’t have access to lavender in your garden, you can buy culinary lavender buds at health food stores or specialty food places.)
Place the lavender buds and the cup of sugar in a food processor (I used a blender). Pulse or blend for a couple of minutes, stirring in between pulses, till the sugar and lavender are well mixed and the lavender is broken down a bit.
Spoon the lavender/sugar mixture into a clean, dry glass jar with a tight-fitting lid. Let the mixture sit, covered, for a day or at least overnight. Double or triple the recipe if you want to make more lavender sugar. Use this delightful sugar to sweeten tea or lemonade, or use it in baking. Enjoy!
For the berry breakfast cake:
3/4 cup lavender sugar (you can use regular white granulated sugar if you prefer)
2 eggs, separated
1/2 cup of unsalted butter, soft and at room temperature
1 and 1/2 cups of all-purpose, unbleached flour
1 teaspoon of baking powder
1/2 teaspoon of salt
1/3 cup of milk
1 teaspoon of vanilla
2 cups of fresh berries (I used a combination of blueberries and black raspberries)
Preheat your oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Lightly grease a 9 x 9 inch baking pan.
In a large mixing bowl, beat together the lavender sugar, egg yolks, and butter until creamy. In a medium mixing bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, and salt. With a wooden spoon, stir the dry ingredients into the butter mixture. Add the unbeaten egg whites and stir until well mixed. Add the milk and vanilla and stir to mix again. Fold in the berries. If you are using blueberries, gently stir in a bit of flour to the blueberries before folding them into the batter, so they won’t sink to the bottom. Gently stir until the berries are combined with the batter. Spoon the batter into the baking pan and bake for 30-40 minutes, until the cake is golden and the center springs back to the light touch. Serve warm. Enjoy!