If you fancy going out and trying your hand at foraging there isn’t much of a better time to start than now. Wild garlic is one of the best things to look for as it’s so distinctive; you smell it before you see it, the leaf is fairly specific and if you’re still not sure you can tear the leaves and do an additional sniff test before you start taking it home. I fancied my hand at baking some Wild Garlic Bread, sort of tear and share style, so off I sauntered to my favourite wild garlic spot to get picking.
I feel I should say at this point that if you do have a bash at finding (and eating) some wild food, do make sure you know what it is you’re picking, that you’re allowed to pick it and that you give it all a good wash when you get home. Having made it sound all very regimented and dull, foraging for food is one of my favourite things. Armed with a few books I have learnt so much so fast about what’s edible nearby. If you’re a little cautious about it, I have seen wild garlic available at farmers’ markets and from vegetable box companies. I’m sure it’s only a matter of time before supermarkets start stocking it…but that does sort of defeat the point. I don’t think it’s ‘wild’ if it’s wrapped in plastic.
- 400g strong white bread flour
- 300ml warm water
- 7g sachet fast action yeast
- Pinch sea salt
- 75g unsalted butter
- Handful wild garlic leaves, washed and chopped
- Salt and pepper
Add the flour, yeast and salt to a bowl (keep the yeast and salt separate) then add the warm water. Bring together to make a dough then knead for 10 minutes on a lightly floured surface until nice and stretchy.
Place a damp tea towel over the bowl and leave for one hour, or until the dough has doubled in size.
Make a wild garlic butter by beating the butter, chopped wild garlic, salt and pepper together until well mixed. It will turn your butter slightly green.
Remove the dough from the bowl and place on a floured surface. Flatten it out; you don’t have to be particular about this, just roughly flattened. Spread 2/3 of the butter mixture over the dough then knead lightly to incorporate the butter throughout the dough.
Divide the dough into 12 equal sized balls and arrange them on a baking paper covered baking tray. Ensure the balls are touching. You can go to town on the shape you want to make; spirals, flowers, all sorts but I stuck to a 3 x 4 arrangement. I’m not very artistic.
Cover the tray with some lightly oiled cling film and leave for 45 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 190C. Melt the remaining wild garlic butter and brush the top of each roll lightly with it.
Bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes or until lightly golden on top and baked through.
I don’t want to blow my own trumpet but I was so pleased and impressed with how this turned out! The bread was lovely and soft with a faint whiff of garlic throughout. The wild garlic leaves added a speckled effect throughout the bread and the brushed butter on top of each roll gave it an additional flavour and bit of crunch. This is a great way to make the most of wild garlic while it’s around and I bet it would be amazingly tasty with some grated cheese added to the top before baking. If you’ve got some spare leaves they are fantastic added to mushrooms on toast too!
If you want to go outside and rummage around for edible plants, do take a quick look at my foraging top tips.