I didn’t think he was ever going to stop eating it. Under the knife, the bread gently gave way to a dozen or more long, thick slices. Steam was still rising, as he picked up two big slices at a time — devouring it plain, without the olive oil, butter and cheese placed beside it. Before I turned around, two more slices were in his hands — and now his brother had them two, imitating his style of stuffing two slices of this incredibly soft bread into his mouth.
I had heard that lavender was edible, and so many recipes with lavender kept popping up on Pinterest. Yet, it was difficult to find a good one for bread. I learned, however, that a little goes a long way – and lavender can be bitter. Not really believing that the bread would really taste very good — I just wanted to try it.
Based on the response from the two oldest boys, my experimental bread will now be a staple bread in our house.
Rather than trying to mask lavender’s bitterness with sugar, I decided to push it into the savory realm, adding rosemary, garlic and salt and olive oil. The results were fantastic. The lavender was very strong — even though I only used a tablespoon — and it seemed to enhance and intensify the rosemary and garlic — pushing the flavor quotient of this bread over the top. I’m curious to know how the addition of sage would impact this bread.
Needless to say, the boys loved it, and there is nothing left, save for a few crumbs. Next time, I’d like to make two loaves — I think it would be fun to freeze one of these loaves, as the freezer seems to deepen the herb flavor into the grains.
Sourdough Lavender Herb Bread
Makes 2 Large Loaves — You’ll Need Them Both. You can freeze one for later — but you will have to hide it.
- 4 cups lukewarm water
- 1 tablespoon of sugar
- 2 cups sourdough starter
- 2 tablespoons salt
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 10 cups unbleached all-purpose flour. (Feel free to substitue whole grain flours for a portion of white flour. Whole wheat may need more water.)
- 2 tablespoons of lavender flowers
- 2 tablespoons of rosemary, fresh or dried
- additonal coarse salt — about 1 tablespoon or so to add with herbs
- 3 cloves of minced garlic
- Mix the sourdough starter, sugar, and olive oil with the water in a large bowl, or a lidded (not airtight) food container.
- Mix in the flours without kneading, using a spoon, a or a heavy-duty stand mixer (with dough hook).
- Cover (not airtight), and allow to rest at room temperature until dough rises and collapses (or flattens on top), approximately 4 – 6 hours.
- The dough can be used immediately after the initial rise, but the sourdough does its work better if left to sit overnight, or 8-12 hours, in the refrigerator.
- When you’re ready to bake, pull dough out of refrigerator and let it warm up to room temperature.
- Heat the oven to 425 degrees F.
- Lightly oil two vessels. Use a round oven-proof bowl, a cast-iron pot, skillet or loaf pan. Sprinkle with cornmeal.
- Mix herbs, garlic and salt.
- Divide dough in half, and working with each dough separately, quickly knead herbs into dough.
- Place dough into vessels, cover with tea towel and let rest for about 30 minutes.
- Feel free to add more herbs and salt to top of loaf.
- Right before placing dough in oven, fill a small pan with about a cup of water and place in bottom of oven.
- Let breads bake for about 30 minutes.
- Let bread cool before cutting. This is vitally important — as it allows the bread to “soften.”