Sometimes there are those really productive weekends where the house gets cleaned, all the laundry gets done, the dogs get walked, and a nice Sunday dinner is prepared. Those weekends feel great. You go back to work on Monday feeling like all is right with the world (or at the very least there won’t be a mound of dirty laundry waiting for you to wash when you get home).
And then there are those weekends when all you want to do is sit around in your pajamas and watch episodes of Breaking Bad.
Guess which kind of weekend I had?
To be fair, sometimes it’s easier for me to have a lazy weekend because my husband is a firefighter and I often find myself with a weekend alone. And while I miss having him around, it can be really nice to have time to do all the girly things I want to do. Like make jam and biscuits.
Our friend brought us two giant boxes of peaches and apricots over the weekend, and while I would have liked to have chowed down on as much as I could stuff in my face, my tummy certainly doesn’t fare well when bombarded with fruit. TMI? Moving on.
So what to do with all of it. Why, make jam, of course! And you can’t have jam without a flaky pastry. That should just be illegal.
Our lavender bushes out front are going crazy right now, so I thought I’d infuse my favorite sweet biscuit recipe with lavender and see what happened. Hot damn. I almost OD’d on biscuits, you guys. Almost.
Half and half gets infused with lavender blossoms on the stove and then integrated into the biscuit dough. The floral flavor is subtle, but really lends a nice flavor to the whole thing. Almond flour stands in for part of the all-purpose flour, and of course our friend butter makes an appearance. The dough comes together very quickly and bakes up into a nice flaky biscuit with a crunchy top. Straight out of the oven, these are really great. But add a dollop of homemade peach jam and you’ve got something really special.
Feel free to omit the lavender if you prefer, these biscuits are equally great on their own. I use this same dough without the lavender infusion as a topping for fruit cobblers. If you’re allergic to nuts, omit the almond meal and use 2 cups of all-purpose flour.
Lavender Cream Biscuits
makes 6 large biscuits
1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup almond meal
scant 1/4 cup sugar
1 Tbsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. sea salt
6 Tbsp. unsalted butter, very cold, cut into cubes
1 large egg
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
3/4 cup half-and-half
4-6 fresh lavender blossoms
In a small saucepan on the stove, combine half-and-half and lavender blossoms. Heat over medium flame until steamy, but DO NOT boil. Once the mixture is hot, remove from heat and cool in the refrigerator until very cold. Remove flowers after 20 minutes of infusion. This step can be done up to a day ahead of time.
Preheat oven to 375°. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
In a small bowl combine egg, vanilla, and infused half-and-half. Whisk to combine. Set aside.
In the bowl of a food processor, combine all-purpose flour, almond meal, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Pulse to combine. Add butter cubes and pulse until the size of the butter resembles small peas. Pour flour butter mixture into a large bowl. Add egg mixture to flour mixture and stir to combine. Mix until just incorporated. This is a sticky dough, so don’t be alarmed if it seems really wet.
Divide dough into six equal pieces, about 2 inches in diameter, using your hands to shape them into rounds. Slightly flatten each biscuit into a disc.
Bake at 375° for 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the biscuit comes out clean. Cool slightly and enjoy warm.
These biscuits will keep in the refrigerator for a few days, but they are best the day they are baked.
Small Batch Classic Peach Jam
recipe from Canning for a New Generation
makes about 1 pint
Note: this recipe does not contain commercially produced pectin. The Granny Smith apples are high in natural pectin, so cooking them in the jam mixture with the seeds, stems, and peels yields a jam that sets up just fine, albeit slightly less so than if using commercially produced pectin.
12 ounces Granny Smith apples (2 large or 3 small)
4 pounds peaches, peeled and pitted (about 6 cups)
1-3/4 cups sugar
3 Tbsp. strained fresh lemon juice
Put a small plate in the freezer. Wash under hot water and dry your pint jar (or two half-pint jars) and set aside.
Cut the apples into quarters and core them.. Tie up the cores and seeds in a cheesecloth bag and set aside.
In a large 6-8 quart pan, combine peaches and sugar. Bring to a simmer and cook, stirring frequently, until the juices just cover the fruit. Pour the mixture into a colander set over a large bowl and give the peaches a stir to drain off as much juice as you can. Return the juice to the pan along with the apples and cheesecloth bag. Bring mixture to a boil, stirring occasionally, until the syrup is thickened and reduced by half (about 15 minutes).
Return the peaches with any accumulated juice, along with the lemon juice, to the pan. Simmer, stirring frequently, until a small dab of jam spooned onto the chilled plate and returned to the freezer for a minute becomes slightly firm (it will not gel completely). Remove from heat and stir to distribute juices. Remove and discard apples and cheesecloth bag. Ladle the jam into your prepared jars and cool to room temperature. Lid and store in the refrigerator. Preserves will keep in the refrigerator for up to a week.
*Note: for those who would like to preserve this jam, this is a good guide to follow. Follow the recipe above, but use half-pint jars. When you are ready to fill your jars, leave 1/4″ head space. Process preserves in a water bath for 5 minutes. Remove from water bath and set upright on a clean kitchen towel out of the way. You will not want to move the jars for 12 hours. You should hear the lids “pop” into place shortly after you remove the jars from the water. After an hour, check to see that all of the lids have sealed by pressing down on the center of each. If the lid can be pushed down, it hasn’t sealed and should be refrigerated immediately.