In North America, we often think of lavender as an essential oil and an ingredient in soaps and body products. In French cooking, however, is common to use organic lavender in many different cooked dishes, including breads, pastries, roast meats, and sauces. I often use lavender in French bread, shortbread, in roast lavender-honey duck, as well as adding a pinch to black tea.
French Bread with Lavender
1 oz (or 1 tablespoon) dry active yeast
1 cup warm water
1 tablespoon honey (or natural sweetener of your choice)
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon dried organic lavender
3 cups organic all-purpose flour
1 egg white, beaten (to glaze the loaves)
Place yeast and water in a large mixing bowl and allow to sit for about 5 minutes. If yeast has begun to bubble or foam a little, add the honey, olive oil, lavender and salt and mix together. (If yeast isn’t bubbling, discard as this means that your yeast is dead and your bread will not rise.)
Add 2 cups of the flour, mixing in with a wooden spoon until the dough is smooth. Turn the dough onto a floured surface and knead for 8-10 minutes, incorporating as much of the remaining 1 cup of flour as needed for a smooth, elastic dough.
Place dough into a large, oiled bowl. Cover with a damp tea towel and allow to sit in a warm place for an hour and a half (or for one hour in the oven on the ‘proof’ setting).
Punch down dough. Cut in half. Roll out each half on a floured surface to about 1/4-inch thick, then roll up the dough into a long loaf. Make three diagonal cuts in the top of the loaf and place on a baguette or loaf pan. Repeat with the other half of the dough.
Place loaf pan(s) in a warm place to rise for about an hour or until double in size. Brush beaten egg white over the loaf just before baking.
Bake in a 375 degree (F) oven for about 25 minutes, or until golden brown. Enjoy!
Instead of baguettes you can always shape these into small rolls. I also sometimes shape these into Funky Breadsticks and serve them in a tall glass vase. Instead of lavender, you can keep the dough plain and garnish with parmesan cheese, poppy seeds or sesame seeds. Or you can add fresh or dried herbs to the dough.