Baking with Weeds

Yes, weeds in the plural, dandelions to be specific. Hannah and I were out on an errand, and I was telling her about a recipe for dandelion bread that I had just read about (in Langdon Cook’s foraging book Fat of the Land – anybody seeing a trend here? However I can guarantee I won’t be diving down to the bottom of Puget Sound to spear lingcod anytime soon.) Of course she was delighted by the idea of cooking with flowers, so we kept our eyes out for a good patch. We found some huge dandelions out beside a sketchy Chinese restaurant and filled the only vessel we had handy – mom’s hat.

Back in the kitchen, the process of picking the yellow petals from the flower head was a bit tedious, but got easier as I refined my technique. I needed to get a full cup of them, which was no small feat, and Hannah lost interest pretty early on in the project. The bread was a basic quickbread, and the dandelions only seemed to add color (though a lovely color it was), and apparently also a ridiculous amount of vitamins. The flavor was pretty plain, and next time, I’d add some cinnamon, or maybe lemon zest. Fortunately we had some tasty lemon curd from the Bent family pantry, and it made the perfect accompaniment.

I’m also thinking that dandelion petals could go into pancakes or scones just to sneak in a little extra nutrition and interest from the kids, but only when I have an extra half hour to kill. The recipe is after the break.



This might be interesting…

All it takes is a self-addressed stamped envelope to get some starter.

All it takes is a self-addressed stamped envelope to get some starter.

Came across this free sourdough starter offer… I think it’s actually from the Oregon Trail and 150 years old. I’m mailing off for it today; look for an update in a month or so. Sounds like a fun thing to try with our bread technique. Read the “About Carl” section… what a champ!

Written by dan in: Food | Tags: , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Turning over a new loaf

Dan and I have discovered a new technique in bread making that may revolutionize our baking lives.  First a little background:  I make our basic sandwich/toast bread and I believe it turns out well and works for sandwiches and everyday stuff.  I also have a good recipe for quick focaccia bread that we often use for dinner.  Both of these are satisfactory, but we also have been searching for the right way to re-create artisan bread loaves (like you buy at the market) at home. Dan spent months refining his technique with sour dough, but eventually decided  he wasn’t really accomplishing what he wanted.

Now we have found this new book (Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day by Jeff Hertzberg and Zoe Francois) which may be what we are looking for.  Basically you make a large batch of basic, but really wet dough (a 2:1 ratio of flour to water) and let it rise for a couple of hours and then leave it in the fridge (apparently for up to two weeks — though our first batch only lasted a few days).  When you want to bake a loaf pull off a chunk of whatever size you want, quickly shape a loose loaf on a peel and let it sit for 40 minutes.  Lastly, bake on a stone with steam for 30 minutes.  We’ve had great success.  With other doughs this wet I got very frustrated with the handling and many rises. I once even had to stay up late into the night to bake my bread because I had missed a 3rd rise when reading over the recipe and didn’t leave enough time.  (that bread involved a couple of swear words if I remember correctly).  So far the only tricky part has been baking time since the loaf size varies, but we’ve both been impressed with the crumb and crust and think it may be our best approximation of artisan bread.

I would highly recommend the book.  They have recipes for brioche and other doughs as well, which I may try.  Seattle Public Library has it for those local readers.  And for any aspiring bakers it is a great resource to make artisan baking a little more realistic for the novice.

Written by alicia in: Book Review,Food | Tags: , | 4 Comments

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