Last week I published a blog post with a link to recipes which inspired me to bake a loaf of Chickweed bread. Despite my best efforts in my garden, chickweed plants lurk under and around so many of my plants. This prolific weed can be added to salads, and now I have a new use as a major component of bread.
To make the bread, I started by dribbling a couple of spoonfuls of golden syrup into a large bowl, added warm water and attempted to dissolve the syrup before pouring dry yeast across the liquid. As for quantities, I didn’t weigh or in any way measure these ingredients – my guide was a relaxed general feeling about what was enough. I set that aside to begin to foam. Meanwhile I had picked that large bowl (pictured) full of chickweed (possibly equivalent to three to four large cups full), meticulously washed each strand and removed the roots. On the chopping board I cut across the pile of clean chickweed by moving backwards and forwards and across with the knife until I imagined the strands were in short pieces.
On the stove, I sautéed a quarter of a large onion before adding in the pile of chopped chickweed. It all seemed a little dry so I added some Campbells vegetable stock so the ingredients didn’t stick to the saucepan.
Once the greens were softened I strained off the excess fluid (I drank this tasty liquid later). In the bowl with the foaming yeast mixture I mixed the onion and chickweeds. Then gradually I added organic wholemeal stoneground flour, and some salt. Over time this came together in a moist but barely sticky ball.
I left it to rise and after almost three hours it had more than doubled in size. I knocked the risen mass down and kneaded it further. This time I shaped the mass to fit into a bread tin, and left it to rise overnight.
Next morning, perhaps because of the cold night, the bread mix hadn’t risen much. Somewhat disappointed but not deterred I placed the tin in a Fan Forced oven at 200 degrees C, let it bake for 25 minutes before turning down the temperature to 180 degrees for a further 20 minutes.
After that time I tapped the bread, and it sounded like it was cooked. Once out of the oven, I turned the loaf onto a cooling rack, tapped it again and felt sure it was cooked – but was it overcooked. Did I have a solid log? Something uncuttable and inedible?
The proof was in the eating. I took the loaf to the RTBG Food Garden for my fellow volunteers to try out; to be guinea pigs for this new weed based experiment. I was relieved and delighted; it cut well and was delicious. Without a doubt I will be making more chickweed loaves – but in future I will not leave them overnight to rise.