Cooking Adventures Pt. 3: For the love of Lavender

I found this cookbook at goodwill for a buck fifty, that basically was all about sandwiches and what goes with them. So there’s sauces, fancy breads, actual sandwiches, soups to go with, etc. It looked fun so I got it and I picked a random recipe to try first. Landed on Lavender-Mint love bread. I like mint and lavender, so I was like “Yeah sure, fancy breads.” The recipe called for 1.5 cups of Lavender-mint love sauce, which was later in the book.

The author of this book is super into sandwiches by the way. Like I feel like he’d call subway or quizno’s blasphemy. I can’t wait to try some of the other recipes cause they sound equally weird. But his love of bread and sandwiches is important to note.

I made some changes to this recipe, I’ll admit. First of which was to the sauce. It called for fresh lavender, basil, sage, mint, curry powder, plain yogurt, cream cheese… I had not idea how it would taste going in. I could not find fresh culinary lavender though, so I used dried and only 1/3rd the amount it asked for to compensate. I had to try multiple places to get dried buds even, and only ended up with a tiny box that holds enough for 2 batches of the sauce.

The sauce was basically mix up all the wet stuff, mix up all the dry stuff, then mix them together. Next time I’ll probably use my mixer since it took forever to get the cream cheese to incorporate (or let it soften maybe). The sauce recipe makes 6 cups it says, which is way more than I needed but I’m sure I’ll find another use for it. I used about half for 2 loaves of bread at least.

The bread… well this guy wanted me to start with his basic recipe that calls for 15 cups of flour and makes 4 loaves. Not only do I not need that much dough, but I don’t have a bowl big enough for that much flour. I suppose I could freeze extra dough to make later, but I decided just to use the basic white bread recipe from my betty crocker cookbook. It’s half the size and I’ve made it before. I finally got to really test my new mixer and got everything all mixed up just fine. I did knead it by hand but that was more for the therapy it provides than because the mixer couldn’t.

The next step started out fine, roll it out like normal into a big rectangle. Then I was supposed to brush it with olive oil and spread on the sauce. I realized a huge problem here, namely there’s no way in hell that 1.5 cups of sauce is gonna do anything but ooze all over and mess up my counter. And that’s exactly what it did. I scooped as the excess off the dough and cleaned the counter a bit and made a note not to do that for the next loaf.

On top of the sauce I spread some shaved Manchego cheese. Lucky for me my store just did the whole taste of spain event, and then got a bunch of excess manchego in so it was marked down to get rid of it. I didn’t use as much cheese as the recipe suggested because I could just imagine the bread oozing all over even as it baked. I rolled everything up as best as I could, tucking in the sides to keep the sauce in, and put it in the pan to rise again.

Second loaf, I was much more sparing with the sauce, carefully layered the cheese and rolled it up. Some of the sauce still leaked out the end but I tucked everything in as best I could and put it in the second bread pan.

By the time they’d rise I realized the second loaf was way too skinny in the middle but it was too late to do anything about it. I stuck them both in the oven and hoped for the best. I decided to forego the egg wash the original recipe suggested because I already had a mountain of dishes from this recipe and cooking dinner.

They baked and I kept the light on so I could regularly check and make sure nothing was overflowing or burning. 30 minutes later I pulled them out and… the smell.

My doubts faded away, as did my stress from the day. These loaves smell heavenly when you pull them out. This faint scent of lavender and mint, and the always pleasant smell of fresh bread. I brushed them with melted butter and stood there for a moment admiring them on the wire racks. The one that had been too skinny had a funky side, and you could see browned bits of cheese sticking out. None of that seemed to matter though because what had been such a messy recipe and surely doomed to fail turned out two fragrant and not at all disastrous loaves.

The taste is pretty subtle. You get hints of the sauce and cheese, but it’s not overwhelming. I’m betting I can make some fine sandwiches with it. I’m definitely happy I tried this recipe, though I think the original version would have been overpowered with so much sauce. I’m going to have to grow my own fresh lavender though, running around town for a tiny box of dried buds is not my idea of a good time.



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