A published folklorist, Pollyanna enjoys writing about hidden histories, folk customs, and recipes that make use of wild weeds.
The Humble Yet Nutritious Dandelion
Ah, the humble dandelion. Scruffy yard thug, they are a blight in many a gardener's lawn and are a well-known weed. They seem to grow everywhere, and can even force themselves up through tarmac.
One of the most common wildflowers, they are easy to identify. I am sure that every reader will have played with a dandelion clock at some point in their life.
But did you know, that every part of this plant is edible? Not only that, but the dandelion is highly nutritious! I was forever pulling these up, before I learned how useful they were.
The young leaves can be eaten cooked in place of spinach, or raw in salad, and provide an excellent source of vitamins A, C and K. They also contain vitamin E, folate and small amounts of other B vitamins, as well as iron, potassium, calcium, and magnesium.
The roots can be roasted to make a caffeine free coffee substitute, and even the flowers can be eaten!
The flowers are also a vital source of pollen for bees in early spring, and provide a welcome boon to wildlife.
This recipe will teach you how to make your own tasty dandelion biscuits; a sweet and unusual treat that are sure to become a seasonal favourite.
- 20 dandelion flower heads
- 1 egg
- Zest of 1 lemon
- 1 tablespoon of lemon juice
- 100g sugar
- 125g soft butter
- 200g self-raising flour
- Pinch of salt
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How to Prepare the Dandelion Flowers
Before you start, make sure to leave the dandelion heads to soak in water to remove any insects from the flowers. Bugs in biscuits don't go down well!
I tend to leave mine soaking in a bowl of water overnight, and then let them drain in a sieve until they are not soaked through. Damp flower heads are fine, but you want most of the water to have drained out before you bake with them, otherwise your mixture may be runnier than desired.
Pinch each flower head and carefully pull the petals out, taking care not to include any green. A little twist helps, and pulling from the middle of the flower makes things easier. Too much green in with your petals will make the biscuits taste bitter, so if any falls in with the petals, carefully take the stray green pieces out before you cook with your dandelions.
Wash your lemon in hot water to remove any wax that may be coating it. This is a trick by producers to make the fruit appear glossy. Once cleaned, grate the skin finely and put the zest to one side. Squeeze the juice and save for later.
- Preheat your oven to 180°C/350F or gas mark 4.
- In a mixing bowl, add the sugar to the butter and stir until soft and creamy.
- Whisk the egg until smooth. Add the lemon juice to the egg, then pour the lemon-egg mixture into your mixing bowl with the sugar and butter.
- Tip in the lemon zest and stir well.
- Sieve the flour as you weigh it, to make sure there are no lumps, and add a pinch of salt.
- Add the dry ingredients to the mixing bowl bit by bit, stirring slowly to ensure that it is all blended nicely. When all of the flour is mixed in, add your dandelion petals and stir well until you have a sticky dough.
- Using a tablespoon, place a dollop onto a lightly-greased baking tray. Flatten it a little so it does not rise too much in the oven. They will spread out, so I would not recommend more than 6 biscuits on each baking tray.
- Place the tray in the middle of the oven, and bake for between 13-16 minutes, until they start to brown.
- Remove from the oven and leave to cool on a wire rack.
Serving and Storage
Once cooked, you will see the petals in your biscuits. The delicate flavour is just perfect with the zesty lemon.
Once cool, store in an airtight biscuit tin. They will keep for a week, but whether they last that long before they are eaten, is doubtful!
Your biscuits will be quite a talking point and will go down well with any afternoon tea!
© 2020 Pollyanna Jones