Sometimes inspiration strikes at the most inopportune times: When your plate is already full, and you’re not in a place to do anything about it. That happened to me a few weeks ago, when two serendipitous things arrived in my mail box at the same time: Joy the Baker‘s cookbook, and my May Pairings Box from Turntable Kitchen. Tucked in my box was a small packet of buckwheat flour and a bag of sweet smelling chamomile flowers. Joy’s beautiful book features chamomile cupcakes, which is where my mind immediately went. But then it drifted.
I realized that I really wanted something light and delicate. Something that would be right at home on a quiet afternoon, and would also make a dignified showing at a genteel kind of party, like a ladies’ tea party. I imagined these crisp little biscuit-y cookies on a dainty plate, next to my cup of Earl Gray, while I curled up in a window seat with a book (nevermind that we don’t have a window seat).
I think I was dreaming of quiet afternoon cookies because I didn’t have anything of the sort going on at the time. There was no time for cookie baking, much less tea and reading in the afternoon. Joy’s book went on a shelf, and the tiny yellow chamomile flowers went into the cupboard, and I tried to put it out of my mind. But there was no letting go of this idea. It stuck, and it pestered me, and I yearned for my quiet afternoon cookies, until finally…I found a moment of calm and I made them.
These cookies are totally like a classy, dignified lady in that they are light and delicate, but they have a strong backbone to them, thanks to the buckwheat flour. The chamomile is very subtle, more of a hint than a real presence. Next time I make these I’ll lean more toward three tablespoons than two of the dried flowers. The honey was an inspired last minute choice, and it adds a little complexity to the sweetness that the sugar alone would not have provided. And while they are light and crisp, they are just buttery enough to feel special.
These cookies would be perfect for a tea party or a baby shower, or some other kind of afternoon gathering. But don’t feel you need to save them for a special occasion. They’re also an excellent way to treat yourself when you need a little reprieve from a busy day.
- ½ cup buckwheat flour
- 1½ cup all-purpose flour
- ½ teaspoon baking powder
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 2-3 tablespoons dried chamomile flowers
- 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, at room temperature
- ¾ cup sugar
- 3 tablespoons honey
- 2 eggs
- 1 tablespoon milk
- Stir together the flours, baking powder, and salt in a large mixing bowl, and set aside.
- Using a spice grinder or a mortar and pestle, grind the chamomile flowers until they are fairly powdery. Try to remove as many stems as you can. (You can also just empty out a few packets of chamomile tea and skip this step entirely.)
- Cream together the butter and sugar until it’s light and fluffy. Mix in the honey, then the chamomile. Add the eggs one at a time, then the milk. Finally, mix the dry ingredients into the wet, until it just comes together.
- Empty the dough onto a floured board or counter and bring it together with your hands. Roll the dough into an even log, and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least two hours, and as long as a few days.
- When you’re ready to bake, preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Let the dough warm up a bit on the counter; 20 minutes should be fine. Slice the dough into slice, between one-eighth and one-quarter inches, and lay them on a parchment lined baking sheet.
- Bake the cookies for about 10 to 12 minutes, rotating the cookie sheets partway through the cooking time. Remove them when they’re just beginning to brown, and let them cool on a wire rack.