We’re starting to edge from spring into summer, and some of the early blooming plants are starting to wilt. With all those groomed gardens wild herbs and grasses are harder to find. But sometimes there are very tasty, and healthy herbs to be found. For example, yarrow has multiple uses – it is supposed to be good for the stomach and the intestines. Cooked stinging nettle is a delicious spinach substitute. You can use Elderberries to make a delicious syrup, or elderberry pancakes. Yum. Btw, don’t use my word for these uses, please educate yourself before trying out any uses.
A plant that is so ubiquitous in this season is dandelion. Dandelions here, dandelions there, dandelions everywhere. Most people know dandelion as a salad green (both leaves and flowers), or dandelion tea which is good for your digestive system. But – did you know you can make other things out of dandelions? You can make dandelion syrup, especially refreshing when added to a glass of water, or dandelion wine (it’s alcohol free)? I’ve also heard that dandelion parfait is delicious as well – this recipe creates a dandelion honey that you use to make the parfait (sorry, link is in German).
And then I came across a post at Fog and Swell about making dandelion bread and I knew I just had to have a go at it. (I love that blog, btw). Anyway, a lot of the dandelions were already past their bloom. I was right at the end of their lifecycles – I found lots of dandelions ready to spread their seeds. While I had lots of fun blowing the seed of the dandelions, the new dandelions were just coming up. And do you know how hard it is to find a dandelion patch where you know that there haven’t been any dogs all over the field? Yuck. I love dogs, but really, I want to eat these dandelions.
But then I visited friends last weekend, and they were planning to mow their lawn – a lawn full of dandelions! So I delayed the mowing and off I went, plucking dandelion flowers with lots of help from my goddaughter. She was pretty fascinated by the idea the dandelions in a bread, although she really couldn’t imagine what they’d be like. I couldn’t either, but I was up for the adventure. I ended up with a big bowl of dandelions.
The recipe says to pick the dandelions early in the morning. Yeah, that didn’t happen since I went to the cookout on Friday afternoon. And I left out the dandelions in the sun to make all those little bugs that I found in the flowers fly away. Then I stored the dandelions under a damp cloth in the fridge. And then, then life intruded. I just couldn’t find the time to make the bread. Finally I had enough time on Wednesday. I feared that they’d gone bad or dried out, but actually there were still edible. All the buds had closed, and a few of the dandelion petals had darkened. I pinched off the yellow flower, discarding the green parts. And then I set off to make dandelion bread.
I originally planned to stick to the recipe as written. But since a few petals were darker I decided to add a bit of saffron to add to the yellowness of the bread. I used a little bit of hot water – half a tsp to a tsp, and added the saffron stems to release some of their color into the water. I kept thinking what flavor would work with the dandelion, and the honey, and decided to add lemon juice and zest. I added the zest of a lemon (pesticide-free) – I used a kitchen peeler since I didn’t have anything else on hand. It works surprisingly well if you’re careful. The zest, together with the juice of half a lemon was added to the cup with the saffron and water, and then the whole mix wandered into the mixed dough.
The bread took longer to bake, probably due to the added moisture, so I decreased the temperature by 50 degrees Fahrenheit (10 degrees Celsius) after 25 minutes. I don’t remember exactly but I think the bread baked for approx. 40-45 minutes in total. The finished bread is delicious – it has a very light taste, with a mellow honey taste and a light lemony taste. The flavors mix really well. And it has an almost cake-like consistency – it’s almost heresy to eat it with butter, or butter and honey.
So, I used up one cup of dandelion petals. I still had petals left over – half a cup of dandelion petals. I first thought I’d make a batch of dandelion muffins or dandelion syrup – dandelion wine seems to require a lot of dandelions. But guess what – I found a recipe for dandelion cookies! The basis of the recipes is pretty similar – it uses honey and canola oil, but the cookies include oats and vanilla, no milk. I once again added the juice of 1/2 lemon, and a bit of salt. As my gran says, any baking recipe should have a bit of salt and a bit of sugar, at least. The dough is very moist, so you just drop a larger teaspoon of the dough onto the cookie sheet. And ta da! You have delicious, mellow and tasty dandelion cookies.