Forager’s Breakfast: Nettle and Parsley Loaf

 “A weed is a plant whose virtues have not yet been discovered.”  Ralph Waldo Emerson 

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Children are the most enthusiastic collectors, almost verging on being “horders” when it comes to gathering their own treasures, especially when they are given purpose. Foraging for food and using foraged ingredients are good ways to teach children about nature’s goodness as well as finding something they will readily taste, slowly gaining a more healthy attitude to food.  Before agriculture people, instead of farming, foraged and back then wild food was just food. People have gathered wild foods for as long as they’ve inhabited the earth: roots, shoots, leaves, berries and fruit. Although the society of today has forgotten to tap into this abundance, it is still out there. Wild ingredients will add a deep dimension of earthiness to usual flavours.

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Ingredients
BIGA STARTER
80 g whole wheat mother starter
240g bread flour
150 g water
BREAD DOUGH
470 g biga starter
580 g bread flour
15 g salt
10 g fresh yeast
370 g water, more as needed
A handful of chopped parsley
A handful of chopped fresh nettle

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Preparation method
DAY 1
Mix ingredients of biga starter in the morning. In the evening mix all ingredients for final dough  and knead on a heavily oiled suface for 5 minutes. Let dough rest for 5 minutes. Adjusting with more water as needed knead for 5 more minutes. Note that the dough should be sticky.
Transfer dough to lightly floured work surface. With oiled hands, stretch and fold, gather into ball, place into slightly oiled bowl, and let rest for 10 minutes. Repeat the double-kneading process three more times at 10 minute intervals. Divide dough into 2 equal portions, place in lightly oiled containers, and refrigerate overnight.
DAY 2
Remove dough from refrigerator 2 hours before using. Shape dough into shape of choice, and place, seamside down, on parchment lined baking sheet. Let rise for about two hours, or until almost doubled in size. Preheat oven to 220 degrees C with added steam pan (a pan of water in the bottom of oven). Score breads. Bake them for 15-20 minutes, rotate loaves, remove steam pan, and continue baking for another 30 minutes. Once baked leave breads in switched off oven with door slightly ajar for another 10 minutes for a crisp finish. Let cool on wire rack.

Why to forage?

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Foraging helps us to better understand Mother Nature, therefore ourselves. As we forage we learn about our immediate environment and its microclimates, our traditions and roots literally our soil, and  who we share it with. Foraging anchors us in the world both mentally and physically.  When foraging on a regular basis nature unfolds in front one’s eyes and harvesting its wild produce helps human kind to be mindful of the “here”, the “now” and the “we are…”.

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