Growing up I was a very picky eater. I am sure all of you mothers reading this are nodding your heads, thinking of picky eaters in your house because someone just would not give peas a chance. Peas were my arch nemesis. The bane of my existence. We are talking uber-dramatic gags when I put one tiny pea in my mouth. I was weird… and loved attention… middle child.
My list of acceptable foods consisted of only a handful of items: chicken fingers, potatoes (in any form BUT potato salad. Ew. Mayonnaise), mac and cheese, cinnamon toast, chocolate milkshakes, and, of course, PB&J sandwiches. Now imagine being mother to this hell of a child. I like to think I would make my child eat whatever it is I am eating, but if I had me as a kid there is just no way. First of all, I was a pretty small child (I barely made to “adult-size”) so I am sure any nutrients my mother could get in to me was seen as a “win.” Secondly, I had a temper. A terrifying temper. My mother is a saint. It was easier for her to just make me a PB&J and call it a day than battle with me over eating that one pea.
With an already very short list of acceptable meals, imagine having your child decide that one of those staples was just no longer making the cut. PB&J's were out. I had good reason though! I had a great mom (Shout Out!). She would make our lunches every morning for us to take to school. Mine always had my strawberry jam and smooth peanut butter sandwich with the crusts cut off (those are the burnt parts, Mom, not the part that has the most “vitamins”). Every day at lunch time, I would unwrap my sandwich, pull apart the pieces of bread to inspect the contents should she decide to try and hide a pea in there, mush them back together and chomp away. However, one day in the first grade, I opened my sandwich to find a Pincher Bug (or an Earwig to some) inside the jam. We always bought the “good” jam because we all loved it, so this was probably no fault of my mother’s, but really a result of the organic nature of the stuff. But, after that I just couldn’t bring myself to eat PB&J. It, too, caused that dramatic gag for a while.
My picky eating, sadly, continued on for many years. Far too many in my opinion. It wasn’t until college when I suddenly found myself without all of my daily athletic commitments and began to acquire the Freshman Fifteen (more like thirty for me), and need to start eating healthier. A pint of Ben and Jerry’s and a loaf of bread weren’t going to cut it anymore. So I started to experiment in the dorm cafeteria eating more of the salad fixings and the other cooked veg they offered. My palate really expanded over those four university years and I really began to love food. I find myself becoming more and more adventurous as I get older. Peas and carrots? Yes! Brussel Sprouts? Always! Sweetbreads? Yum! Liver Pate? Mm-hmm! Pickles? Whoa, let’s not get crazy now.
Since culinary school, I have really begun to try new flavor combinations and to think outside of the classic recipe box. One of the flavors I started experimenting with a few years ago is lavender. Lavender offers a unique floral scent and works well in both savory (likes herbs de provence) and sweet recipes alike. Baker beware, there is a very fine line between refreshing and soapy. You DON'T want to fall into the soapy category.
These Breakfast Buns are a springtime play on the classic Cinnamon Bun. I mix together the butter, orange zest, and crushed lavender, and let those marry together in the fridge for a day or two. I then spread that all over my honey pizza dough, roll, slice into buns, and bake in a cast iron skillet. They bake up crispy around the edges and soft in the center. Pour the tart orange glaze over the top and you have a perfect brunch dish. Just in time for Easter morning, these add a surprisingly bright note to the most important meal of the day!
Recipe: Orange Lavender Breakfast Buns
The Bits and Bobs:
9 tbs unsalted butter, room temp (1 whole stick plus 1 tbs)
1 tbs + 1 tsp dried lavender buds, roughly chopped
1 whole orange, zest
4 tbs sugar
4 tbs brown sugar
1 honey pizza dough (recipe here)
For the glaze:
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
3 tbs orange juice
1/2 orange, zest
At least one day before you plan to bake these buns, prepare the Orange Lavender Butter. Cream together the room temp butter with the orange zest, chopped flower buds, and one tablespoon each of the regular sugar and brown sugar. I found the lavender buds in the spice bin section at Whole Foods. Scoop the soft butter onto a sheet of plastic wrap and roll tightly into a log. Refrigerate at least overnight and up to 3 days. You will want to remove from fridge and return to room temp before baking. The pizza dough can also be prepared and refrigerated the day before.
Preheat oven to 375°F and lightly grease a cast iron skillet or 9 inch cake pan with a little butter or non-stick cooking spray.
On a floured surface, roll the dough out to a rectangle about 1/8 inch thick (roughly 12in x 9in). Spread the soft Orange Lavender Butter all over the dough in an even layer. Mix together the remaining 3 tbs of the white sugar and 3 tbs of the brown sugar, and sprinkle all over the buttered dough.
Starting from the edge farthest away from you, roll the dough inward and toward yourself. Press the seam down gently to ensure the roll is sealed and trim off the two ugly ends. Cut the log in half, then each of those halves in half and repeat until you have 8 buns. Place each of the buns in the greased pan leaving about an inch between each. Cover the pan with a kitchen towel and allow the dough to rest and rise for about 30 minutes.
Once the dough has risen slightly, sprinkle the tops with a little more white sugar and bake in the preheated oven for 27-30 mins, or until the edges are a nice golden brown. NOTE: If you notice some of the butter pooling in the pan, you can drain off the excess part way through the cook time, then continue baking.
Remove from the oven and allow to cool in the pan while you make the glaze. Whisk together the powdered sugar, orange juice, and zest. Remove the slightly cooled buns from the pan and pour as much or as little of the glaze as you like.
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