As I’ve mentioned before, we love to forage for wild foods around here. My 8-year-old son has even begun calling foraging trips, “hunting without a gun”. A trip out foraging recently brought us a multitude of wild leeks and milkweed shoots. We were hoping for some morels but, no luck. I could make myself feel better by telling myself that they just weren’t out yet but I know better than that. The truth is I am horrible at finding morels. I’m sure it has something to do with my difficulties in focusing on any small area for any length of time. But, luckily for me leeks are easy to find –and delicious!
At my 7-year-old daughters request we decided to use some of the leeks to make a braided “onion” bread recipe she’d had her eye on. I’m not great about following recipes, but I did the best I could and the result was quite tasty and very aesthetic. I will share the recipe below. Below the recipe are pictures of our bread and pictures from our leek-hunting expedition. Enjoy!
Ingredients (this is the actual recipe)
- 1 package (1/4 ounce) active dry yeast
- 3/4 cup warm water (110° to 115°)
- 1/2 cup warm milk (110° to 115°)
- 1/4 cup butter, softened
- 1 egg
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1-1/2 teaspoons salt
- 4 to 4-1/2 cups flour, (white, part white, whole wheat, etc. I like to mix ½ white and ½ wheat)
Filling (this is what I remember doing…no recipe here)
- Several cups of leeks, tops and all, chopped
- 1-2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1/4 (or so?) cup pine nuts
- 1-2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
- Salt or tamari to taste
Directions for Filling
- Lightly toast the pine nuts
- Cook down the chopped leeks and greens in the olive oil adding salt or tamari to taste. When cooked down and somewhat cooled, add Parmesan cheese and pine nuts, process in a food processor or something similar until somewhat smooth.
Directions for Bread (these are the actual directions in the recipe but I make my bread dough in a food processor, directions below)
- In a large bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water. Add the milk, butter, egg, sugar, salt and 2 cups flour; beat until smooth. Add enough of the remaining flour to form a soft dough.
- Turn onto a floured surface; knead until smooth and elastic, about 6-8 minutes. Place in a greased bowl, turning once to grease top. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1 hour.
- Punch dough down; turn onto a lightly floured surface. Divide into thirds. Roll each portion into a 20-in. x 4-in. rectangle. Spread filling over rectangles. Roll up jelly-roll style, starting from a long side.
- Place ropes on an ungreased baking sheet; braid. Pinch ends to seal and tuck under. Cover and let rise until doubled, about 45 minutes.
- Bake at 350° for 30-35 minutes or until golden brown. Brush with melted butter. Remove from pan to a wire rack. Yield: 1 loaf.
Directions for dough using a food processor (this makes the process quick and easy and therefore often more practical for busy families. Make sure your processor can handle 4 1/2 cups of flour!)
- Mix the yeast and a tsp of the sugar in the warm water
- Meanwhile, put the dry ingredients in the food processor, mix.
- Mix milk, butter and egg, add to the dry ingredients, mix in processor
- Allow the processor to run until the dough comes together in one lump, let it run a bit more. I usually let it go less than a minute at this stage. If it’s not coming together, it may be too wet or too dry. If it’s “sloppy” add more flour a tablespoon at a time. If it’s crumbly, add more water a teaspoon at a time until it comes together.
- At this point remove the dough and follow the directions above, starting by letting it rise until doubled. –They say an hour, I say it depends on how warm your kitchen is so just keep an eye on it.