I was inspired to make lavender shortbread after going to see the purple spectacle at Mayfield farm in Ewell last week. The family run farm grows lavender organically with no chemical fertilisers, pesticides or herbicides and was awarded Soil Association status in 2009.
Mayfield Lavender began when Brendan Maye was Managing Director of the fine fragrance division of Wella UK. He believed that consumers needed to see the beauty of lavender to accept it as a relevant fragrance for today, and decided to buy a farm and revive lavender growing under the Yardley brand in Surrey, its traditional home in England.
However in 2005 his dream fell apart when Yardley was sold and the acquiring company had no interest in sponsoring Brendan’s lavender program. He worked hard to raise sponsorship himself so that the project did not die away. Brendan then had to face the dilemma of farming 25 acres of organic lavender while carrying on with his day job.
Luckily Brendan’s wife Lorna came to the rescue by quickly learning how to manage and harvest lavender, as well as all the logistics of coordinating the distillation and the product sales from field.
The couple now work together to nurture the organic management of Mayfield Lavender. Both Brendan and Lorna are very proud that the field sits on the exact site where lavender was grown in the 18th and 19th century.
Mayfield Lavender provides a stunning location for photo opportunities where you can walk freely through the plants. You are allowed to bring dogs. As you can see from the slide show my mum and dad’s gorgeous cocker spaniel Toby had a great day running up and down the rows of lavender. A bit like a dog version of a water slide.
There is a tea stall selling a range of lavender products from bread and ice cream to lemonade and cupcakes that you can enjoy during your visit. The shop sells a range of lavender gifts including, soap, candles, hand cream, oils, wreaths and plants. Perfect if you are looking for a quirky gift for someone that can not be found anywhere else. Mayfield’s lavender soap beats any I have ever bought before, even in Paris. It is the kind of soap that scents the whole bathroom. You can order soap or any of the other gifts from the Mayfield Lavender website.
The farm will not be harvested until September to allow people time to enjoy the spectacular views.
My Lavender and Lemon shortbread is a good twist to a very traditional recipe that is perfect for afternoon tea in the garden this summer. The lemon and lavender are nicely balanced without being overpowering. Together these flavours give the shortbread a unique flavour that is totally irresistible.
Makes approx 15 biscuits
Time: 40 minutes
125g caster sugar
2 tsp fresh, unsprayed finely chopped lavender leaves
225g unsalted butter
300g plain flour
50 g ground rice
Half a lemon
1) To make the lavender sugar mix the caster sugar with the finely chopped lavender leaves in a bowl.
2) Line two large baking trays with baking paper and preheat oven to 180C/350F/Gas4.
3) Cream butter and lavender sugar together in a large mixing bowl.
4) Add the flour, juice of half a lemon and ground rice to the mixture and stir thoroughly until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs.
5) With floured hands, work the mixture together to form a smooth dough.
6) Tip onto a lightly toured work top and knead until the dough is smooth. Chill the dough in the fridge for 15 minutes.
7) Roll the dough out to a 5mm thickness, and cut out biscuits using a heart-shaped cutter (or cutter of your choice).
8) Place the hearts onto the baking trays, and sprinkle with a little extra lavender sugar.
9) Leave to chill in the fridge for 30 minutes.
10) Bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes, or until golden brown at the edges. Place the biscuits on a wire rack, sprinkle with extra sugar and leave to cool completely.
11) Serve in the garden with tea or coffee. Delicious!