Preserves & Condiments
Baking & Bread
It’s wild garlic time again - and every border in my garden is absolutely packed with the stuff. I’m not really complaining because it looks lovely when the white flowers come out and it will at least keep weeds at bay until it dies quietly back in a few weeks time - plus, it’s really useful in the kitchen. Able & Cole are selling it for £2 for 50g at the moment so I might have to consider going into production with it. (If anyone who lives locally would like some, though, you’re more than welcome to come and pick your own for free!)
It tastes very much like ‘real’ garlic, just a little sweeter and less harsh and it makes the most fabulous garlic bread, as well as pesto for pasta. I’ve been busily making batches of garlic bread rolls for the freezer with it this week (thereby killing two birds with one stone - fulfilling my pledge to bake some kind of bread every week, while at the same time making the most of the free harvest in the garden).
The bread freezes really well, but as it tastes best served warm I either put it in the oven for 5 minutes or blast it in the microwave for 30 seconds once it’s defrosted. It tastes especially good served with my carrot and ginger soup from last week: https://a-cooks-plot.blogspot.com/2019/03/carrot-and-ginger-soup.html)
This recipe is actually from last year at wild garlic time but it’s worth repeating as it really is a lovely bread. You can make it in exactly the same way using normal garlic. In this original recipe I made six rolls, but yesterday I divided the dough into two, rolled each out to a rectangle and once they were both filled and rolled up, I cut each into 8, giving me 16 smaller rolls. That worked worked really well too and I just reduced the cooking time by about 8 minutes.
What’s nice about this recipe is that rather than using butter, it uses slightly healthier rapeseed oil - but still tastes just as good.
The filling is what I use to make pesto - and it’s probably the nicest pesto I’ve ever had!
Put 150ml hand-hot water in a small jug with the caster sugar and dried yeast and set aside for five minutes until it turns frothy. Put the strong bread flour in a bowl with one and a half tsp salt and make a well in the centre. Pour in the yeast mixture plus another 200ml hand-hot water and stir with a table knife until it comes together, then knead with your hands until you have a smooth, supple dough (add a little extra water if it seems too dry, but don't make it sticky). Knead on a floured board for a few minutes then put into a clean bowl and leave somewhere warm for an hour until doubled in size (the airing cupboard is ideal.)
Meanwhile, whizz the wild garlic leaves with the walnuts, toasted flaked almonds (or pine nuts) and rapeseed oil in a food processor until it forms a paste, then stir in the grated cheddar. When the dough is ready, roll it out to a fairly large rectangle and spread the wild garlic paste over it. Roll up like a swiss roll (from one of the long sides) and slice into 7. Put in a round, non-stick baking tin (cut side up) and leave in a warm place for another 20 minutes until the individual rounds have just started to join together. Brush with milk or beaten egg and bake at 175C (fan oven) for 35-45 minutes until browned and the base sounds hollow when tapped. Cool slightly on a wire rack before letting everyone pull it apart at the table.
Strong flour is high in gluten, which makes it become super-stretchy when liquid is added to it. This allows the dough to rise well when it's proving, so giving a much better texture to the baked bread than standard flour would.