Courtesy Tanya Matta, executive pastry chef, Carmel Valley Ranch
Lavender puts on a show every summer on farms and ranches from Bonny Doon to Big Sur. The grounds at Carmel Valley Ranch, for example, turn bright purple thanks to more than 7,000 lavender plants that line driveways and cover hillsides. Those fragrant flowers provide plenty of inspiration for executive pastry chef Tanya Matta, who loves cooking with it.
“It’s such a sensory experience, the way it fills the kitchen with a nice soothing scent,” says Matta, who uses it not only in scones and cookies, but also in her Vanilla-Lavender Panna Cotta. “It’s a flavor that combines well with honey and dark berries and chocolate too, but you need to be frugal with it,” she advises. “Start with a little, you can always add more.”
Matta—who studied to become a ballerina and then an urban planner—started baking as a way to relieve stress and found that her real passion was in the kitchen. “There’s a discipline to pastry and the creativity that really appealed to me as a dancer,” she adds.
Before coming to Carmel Valley Ranch in 2018, Matta worked with her mentor Claudia Fleming at the famed Gramercy Tavern in New York City and has worked at fine dining restaurants in Vail, Colo. and her home town, Durham, N.C. Over the past several months, while sheltering in place at her home in Pacific Grove, she has been sharing her baking expertise on Instagram. Look for her videos here: @tanyaalexandramatta
14 ounces all purpose flour
13 ounces cake flour
4 ounces confectioners sugar
3 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons baking powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
9 ounces unsalted butter, cold, cubed
2 to 3 tablespoons dried lavender buds
¾ cup cream
¾ cup orange juice
Preheat oven to 325° F for a convection oven or 350° F for a regular oven.
Place all dry ingredients plus cubed butter in bowl of an electric mixer. Using a paddle attachment, mix on medium-low speed until butter is pea sized.
Combine all wet ingredients and add all to the dry ingredients. Mix until all ingredients are combined. Transfer dough to lightly floured surface and roll to approximately ¾-inch thickness (if making mini-scones, roll out thinner).
Cut scones in desired shape. At this point, scones can be chilled overnight and baked in the morning or you can cut and bake right away.
To bake, place on parchment-lined sheet pan about 2 inches apart. Brush with egg wash mixture (I like using egg yolk and a little bit of water to thin it out). Sprinkle with raw sugar and bake for about 15–20 minutes or until golden on top.
If there are any leftover scones, they can be wrapped in plastic wrap. They are good the next day, but need to be warmed to be fully enjoyed. Yields 1 dozen.