for how many years have you gone through the house
shutting the windows,
while the rain was still five miles away
and veering, o plum-colored clouds, to the north
away from you
and you did not even know enough
to be sorry,
you were glad
those silver sheets, with the occasional golden staple,
were sweeping on, elsewhere,
violent and electric and uncontrollable--
and will you find yourself finally wanting to forget
all enclosures, including
the enclosure of yourself, o lonely leaf, and will you
dash finally, frantically,
to the windows and haul them open and lean out
to the dark, silvered sky, to everything
that is beyond capture, shouting
i'm here, i'm here! now, now, now, now, now.
– Mary Oliver, "From The Book of Time" in The Leaf and The Cloud: A Poem
adapted from A Piece of Cake by Leila Lindholm, p. 26
makes about 20 cookies
The original recipe calls for hartshorn salt, a leavening agent that has formerly been made from ground-up antlers of a hart, a male deer. A long time ago, it was widely used as a medicine to treat diarrhea, fevers, insect bites, and such. But it is more than just a medicine. In the 17th and 18th century, it was the forerunner of baking powder, used especially in German and Scandinavian baking, mostly in cookie recipes. Today, it's rarely used and, unlike it the early days, chemically produced. I've made this recipe numerous times using hartshorn salt which can still be purchased at the pharmacy. It lends a special crispness and lightness to cookies without leaving any unpleasant alkaline off-flavor. However, it doesn't have a long shelf life and it may be hard or even impossible to come by where you live, so I've substituted it with baking powder here. It can, however, be substituted with half the amount of hartshorn salt. In other words, 1 teaspoon of baking powder equals ½ teaspoon of hartshorn salt.
The flavor of these cookies will develop over time. Right after baking, the lavender aroma is rather aggressive, almost overwhelming. On the next day you will, however, have wonderfully fragrant cookies which are perfect served with a cup of coffee. They are like luscious pralines; you eat one at a time enjoying every bite.
100 g soft unsalted butter
90 g (3.2 oz; 1 dl; ⅓ cup + 1 ½ tbsp) granulated sugar
½ tsp vanilla paste [or ½ vanilla bean, split open and seeds scraped out]
140 g (4.9 oz; 2 ½ dl; 1 cup) all-purpose flour
½ tsp baking powder [or ¼ tsp hartshorn salt]
pinch of salt
1 tbsp dried (or fresh) lavender buds
powdered sugar, for rolling
Preheat the oven to 150°C (300°F). Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
In a separate bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, salt, and lavender. In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream the butter and sugar until light and pale in color. Add the vanilla bean paste. Add the dry ingredients and mix just until combined.
With the help of a small ice cream scoop or a spoon, scoop out the dough, about 1 tablespoon at a time, and, using your hands, form little balls. Place them on the baking sheet about 2,5 cm / 1 " apart.
Bake on the middle rack for about 15–20 minutes until lightly golden and not falling apart when touched. Let them cool for about 5 minutes. Roll them in powdered sugar while still warm.
Store in an airtight container.