It is finally full on spring here in Kentucky! With copious carpets of ephemeral wildflowers and beautiful dogwood and redbud trees at every turn comes a renewed enthusiasm for foraging. While on a morel hunting trip recently, I was remiss to find the delicious fungus but was instead rewarded with heaps of violets for jam and plump Allium vineale or field garlic. I pickled some, scrambled a few bulbs with eggs, and inevitably developed this aromatic and delicious loaf.
Field garlic is an introduced invasive perennial hailing from Europe, Northern Africa, and Western Asia. If you have intentions of keeping a manicured lawn, you have probably cursed this prolific weedy member of the onion family that can also be a tasty contributor to your kitchen. It is best harvested in the early spring months when the bulbs are tender and swelling with spring rains. The flavor packs an intense punch, so before folding the bulbs into a few loaves, I first sauteed them with a little olive oil and black pepper. To prepare, simply chop off the green ends and reserve for another use. Trim away the fine roots and peel off the papery sheath enshrouding the bulb.
This dough was developed using a sprouted Turkey Red Wheat coarse flour for the stiff leaven, built in two stages. I've found that fermenting whole wheat flour over a long period of time allows the opportunity for more flavor to develop and softens the bran. The final dough is a tangy 90% hydrated loaf made with a combination of flours I had on hand, including Sonoran Wheat a friend had brought back from Tucson. If you don't have access to this creamy glutinous flour, you may substitute with all-purpose. Anson Mills in South Carolina sells Sonoran Wheat wholesale and Hayden Flour Mills in Arizona sells it in smaller quantities in case you want to try - and I suggest you do! It is an heirloom grain that lends a delicious tender and toothsome quality to the loaf. Left to retard overnight, the result is a moist crumb and crispy crust perfect for sandwiches, smearing with cheese, or as toast to dunk in a creamy spring watercress and pea soup.
FIELD GARLIC LEVAIN
Yield: 3 medium loaves
1st Build Leaven Ingredients:
30 g 100% hydration starter
30 g water
45 g sprouted (or regular) whole wheat flour
2nd Build Leaven Ingredients:
65 g water
105 g sprouted whole wheat flour
1 1/2 Tbls. extra-virgin olive oil
120 g field garlic, coarsely chopped
generous pinch of black pepper
275 g leaven
800 g water
500 g strong bread flour
200 g Sonoran whole wheat flour
100 g sprouted (or regular) whole wheat flour, sifted
100 g high extraction wheat flour
20 g sea salt
In a large bowl, stir together the 1st build leaven ingredients until thick and no lumps remain. Cover with plastic and leave to ferment for 8 hours or overnight. In the same bowl, add the ingredients of the second leaven build, stirring to combine. Cover again and leave to ferment for 8 hours. The resulting 275 grams of stiff leaven should be puffy and smelling of sweet grassy yoghurt when ready to build your dough.
Add the water to the bowl, breaking the leaven into pieces and working into a slurry. Add the flours and mix with your hands to combine until well hydrated and no lumps remain. The dough will feel slack and a bit soupy. Cover with plastic and allow to autolyze (rest) for 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a frying pan over medium-low heat. Add the chopped field garlic and pepper and saute until soft and golden, about five minutes. Set aside to cool.
Sprinkle the salt and cooled field garlic over the dough and use your hands to mix until well-incorporated. Cover again with plastic. Every 30-45 minutes, perform stretch-and-folds in the bowl to build dough strength. When the dough has almost doubled in size (about 3-4 hours), divide and pre-shape. Cover and bench rest for 10 minutes. Perform final shaping and place into well-floured bannetons. Cover and place in the refrigerator for 8-10 hours or overnight. Because of the high leaven content of this dough, it does not hold well for extended cold fermentation. Bake in a pre-heated Dutch oven or on a hearthstone using steam.