Lemon Lavender Scones with Black Pepper

Makes 16 scones (small); serves 8.

These delicately scented scones can brighten even the bleakest winter day. The black pepper finish lends a touch of sass and balances the citrus and lavender. If you’d prefer not to glaze the scones, add 1½ teaspoons of medium-grind black pepper to the flour when making the dough.

For the scones:
2½ cups all-purpose flour
6 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
2 teaspoons culinary lavender, minced
¼ teaspoon ground cardamom
½ teaspoon sea salt
Zest from 3 lemons
1 stick / 8 tablespoons very cold butter
2/3 cup milk
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
½ teaspoon vanilla extract

For the glaze and finishing:
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons culi­nary lavender, roughly chopped
1½ cups powdered sugar
1 egg white, whisked till frothy
2 teaspoons coarsely ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 400° F. Line a baking sheet with baking parchment; set aside.

Put the flour, sugar, baking powder, lavender, cardamom, and salt into a large mixing bowl; whisk to combine. Add the lemon zest to the flour mixture; whisk to distribute it evenly.

Grate the butter into the flour mixture on the large holes of a box grater. Use a pasty cutter (or two dinner knives) to cut the butter into the flour until the mixture looks sandy with only small flecks of butter here and there (no bigger than an apple seed).

Stir the lemon juice and vanilla into the milk. Add the milk mixture into the flour mixture. Use a spatula with quick, strong strokes to combine into a rough dough — there will still be crumbly bits in the bottom of the bowl. Use your hands to quickly knead the dough, 6–10 times, incorporating the crumblies, so that you have a ball of dough. Divide the dough into two halves and gently shape each into a ball.

Transfer the two dough balls to the baking sheet, setting them far apart. Use your palm to flatten one of the balls into a 6- or 7-inch disc, repeat with the remaining ball. Using a sharp knife, cut each disc pie-wise into quarters, then into eighths. Separate the wedges a little (by ½ inch or so).

Bake for 15–20 minutes until the tops have golden-brown highlights. Cool for 5 minutes, then transfer the scones a cooling rack. Let them cool for an additional 15–20 minutes before glazing.

Make the glaze Put the lemon juice into a small bowl and stir in 1 tablespoon of the lavender; let infuse for 15–20 minutes. Put the powdered sugar into a small mixing bowl. Strain the lemon juice into the sugar (discard the lavender; add 2 teaspoons of the egg white and 2 tablespoons of water. Whisk until smooth.

Glaze and finish the scones Mix the remaining 2 teaspoons of lavender with the black pepper and set aside. Pick up a scone and dip its top the top into the glaze; return the scone to the cooling rack, glazed side up. When all the scones have been glazed, sprinkle the lavender-pepper mixture over them. Let the glaze dry for 15–20 minutes before serving.


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