This bread is the product of insomnia and chick lit. When I can't sleep, I re-read. Sarah Addison Allen's "Garden Spells," fit the bill last night. When still wide awake halfway through it, I was inspired to cook from it as well.
The story centers around a garden with flowers which, if eaten, have magic properties. I have to admit that some of the recipes there are probably also imaginary, (though if anyone knows how honeysuckle wine could be made, I'm all ears). However, some, like the rose petal scones or chive blossom vinegar, sound real and really wonderful.
The author published some of the recipes from the book, and they all make me wish Spring was upon us. Her lavender bread looked interesting, but I like my own milk bread recipe enough that I modified mine towards this idea instead.
A long, slow rise, a light hand with the flour, good honey and real butter are essential. As a reminder - if you don't have these plants in your yard, make sure you're getting culinary flowers; florists' aren't normally safe for eating. It's also a rather long process, so I'd recommend doubling the recipe so that you have enough to give a loaf as a gift.
- 2¼ teaspoons active dry yeast (package)
- 3 tablespoons warm water, 105 to 110 degrees
- 1 cup milk, warmed to 105 to 110 degrees
- 7 tablespoons butter, melted and allowed to come to room temperature, plus additional tablespoon to grease pan
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1 egg (at room temperature)
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 ½ fresh lavender flowers, or 1 tsp dried
- 3 tablespoons honey
- 3 ½ cups all-purpose flour
- Combine yeast and warm water in large bowl, let stand until yeast is dissolved, about 5 minutes.
- Add warmed milk, melted and cooled butter, sugar, egg, salt.
- Mix by hand for about a minute.
- Gradually stir in flour 2 cups flour until the mixture is roughly homogeneous.
- Add honey and lavender and stir to combine.
- Gradually add remaining flour until dough is moist but not sticky.
- Knead 5 minutes by hand until dough is smooth and bounces back from your touch. Add as little extra flour during this as you can while doing so.
- Transfer dough to a greased bowl, turning to coat. Cover with a towel or plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place (75 - 80 degrees) until doubled in volume, about 2 hours (or, if it's 3 a.m. and you think maybe you should try getting back to sleep, cover the dough loosely with plastic wrap and put in the refrigerator overnight. Allow to come to room temperature before proceeding with step 10).
- Punch the dough down and refrigerate, covered, for 30 minutes.
- Butter and flour an 8½ x 4½ (6 cup) loaf pan, form the dough into a loaf and place, seam side down. Cover loosely with oiled plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until doubled in volume, about 1 to 1½ hours.
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
- Bake until crust is a lovely golden brown, about 40 to 45 minutes. When tapped, the bottom of the loaf should make a hollow sound.
- Remove from pan and cool completely. Enjoy toasted with honey, butter and novellas.