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Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Blueberry-Lavender Banana Bread with Lavender-Lime Glaze



Sweet & Saucy has been on a hiatus for the past year or so. Life spun out of control for a few months, as it often does, and I haven’t had the time, space, desire, or resources to devote much of my energy to the kitchen. Slowly, schedules and commitments and work and energy started to align and I found myself with an extra bit of free time. Creative ideas began swirling around inside my head, and last night I decided to wield the spatula, don the apron, and beat the heck out of eggs, sugar, and flour. And thus, Blueberry-Lavender Banana Bread with Lavender-Lime Glaze was born.

Both lavender and blueberries are in season this time of year. If you can manage to pick fresh flowers and berries, do it. Just make sure they’re organic or otherwise free of pesticides.

You’ll want to use culinary lavender in this recipe. From everything I’ve read and researched, all lavender seems to be edible. The only lavender recommended for cooking, however, is English Lavender (lavandula angustifolia) which has a light, sweet smell and is the preferred lavender of choice for cooking because of its sweet fragrance. All other variants are high in camphor oil, which has a slight bitterness and is treated by the body as a toxin.


Blueberry-Lavender Banana Bread with Lavender-Lime Glaze

Bread:

¼ lb. (1 stick) butter, room temperature
2/3 cups sugar
2 large eggs
2 cups all purpose flour
1 Tbsp. dried lavender flower buds
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
3 large ripe bananas, mashed
1 ¼ cup blueberries, fresh or thawed & drained
1 tsp. vanilla extract

Glaze:
 
½ cup powdered sugar
1-2 tsp. milk
½ tsp. lime juice
1 tsp. dried lavender flower buds

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a large bowl, beat butter & sugar until fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating after each addition. Stir in vanilla. Sift flour, baking soda & salt into a bowl. Stir in lavender. Beat dry ingredients into the butter mixture. Fold in bananas, then blueberries.

Grease or spray a 9 x 5 loaf pan and pour into prepared pan.

Bake for 50 to 60 minutes or until toothpick or wooden skewer comes out clean.

Cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then carefully turn out and cool on a wire rack.

Let the bread cool several hours or overnight, then make the glaze by whisking the milk into the powdered sugar. Add the lime juice a drop or two at a time until you reach your desired citrus flavor. Mix in the lavender buds. Spoon the glaze over the tops and sides of the bread.  

Notes:

Grinding the lavender disperses it through the bread and makes it a bit less potent.

I used an 8x8 pan instead of a 9x5, as it’s what I had handy. I made sure to check on the bread periodically, and anticipated a shorter cook time, but the bread needed the full hour in the oven to cook through. Your oven may vary, so just keep an eye on it.

Do NOT pour the glaze on the bread when it’s hot out of the oven. It’ll just melt off and pool into a puddle on the plate. Wait for the bread to cool.

I usually eyeball the glaze. You want just enough liquid added to the powdered sugar to give it some viscosity, but not too runny. I recommend adding a little bit of the liquid at a time, stirring constantly, until you’ve reached the desired consistency.

You can use lemon juice in place of lime for the glaze. Or orange juice. Or almond extract. Or any other flavoring you desire. I’m just a sucker for lime.

This recipe is also good without the lavender, especially in the fall and winter months. I substitute spices such as cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, clover, or cardamom for the lavender. Delicious!