For several years when my garden lay fallow, I let my garlic go. As a result it slowly proliferated, invading the edges of the veggie beds. Over the past couple of years, I’ve prioritized regaining control. One of the ways I’ve worked at this is to cut off the scape (the curly top that develops into the seed) before it matures and drops seeds back to the ground.
One year I fermented some of the scape. While our youngest son loved cooking with the result, I wasn’t so enamored. Last year rather than composting the abundance of scape, I researched and found a recipe for pesto. I decided to try it and ended up with a lot of scape pesto in my freezer. Because it is best after a few months of mellowing, I waited until winter to try some of my bounty.
I decided to try incorporating it into my sourdough bread. I’ve been making some version of the recipe below for over 20 years. I knew it could handle the scape. Since making that first boule a few months ago, this new version has become a weekly favorite. I heartily recommend creating pesto from your garlic scape for use this fall and winter!
My own method is simple. I harvest the scape, rinse it off, then chop it with my food processor until it resembles quinoa grains in size. I scoop the pesto into regular-sized muffin tins and place them in the freezer. When frozen solid (several hours later), I move the “muffins” into Ziploc bags and back into the freezer they go. Whenever I want to use one for either bread or a meal, I simply take it out and let it defrost.
Yield one loaf.
There are some oddities here as compared to most sourdough recipes. I don’t have and don’t want to purchase a kitchen scale, so my measurements are given in cups rather than grams. Also, you won’t find a lot of kneading in normal sourdough recipes. I prefer to work by feel. I like the intimacy and work of kneading so this recipe includes it. As a result, the texture of this bread is more like regular bread with less springy holes than classic sourdough.
Ingredients for the levain:
• 2 cups 00 flour
• 1 cup lukewarm water
• 1/2 cup sourdough starter
Ingredients for the bread:
• 1-1/2 cups 00 flour
• 1/3 cup (1 muffin cup) of chopped garlic scape
• 1-1/2 tsp salt
• 1 tsp granulated garlic
• 1 cup finely-grated cheese (optional: I’ve used parmesan, gruyere, cheddar, and gouda)
1. Creating the levain: Thoroughly combine the ingredients for the levain in a bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and set in a cool, dark place for at least 8 hours. I usually make this up mid-day and leave it to work up a good bubble overnight.
Making the bread
1. Add the scape, salt, granulated garlic, cheese (if using), and about a third of the flour to the levain. Mix thoroughly.
2. Dump another third of the flour onto your board (kneading area) and spread so that it’s a large enough area to hold your dough.
3. Scrape the dough out of the bowl onto the floured board. Fold in the edges of your dough and begin to incorporate the flour with a quick, light kneading action.
4. This is where your sense of touch will come into play. As necessary, slowly incorporate more flour (that last third). Your kneading will become more normal and may take 10 minutes or more. The goal is a dough that is slightly tacky but no longer sticky—too sticky will result in a loaf that spreads too much and becomes flattened; too much flour will result in a dry loaf with little spring at all. Don’t stress too much—practice will help you achieve your perfect loaf. Less than perfect outcomes still result in edible artistry.
5. Place the dough in a bowl lightly coated in olive oil. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise until doubled (about an hour and a half).
Cooking the bread
1. Sprinkle rice flour (or cornmeal) on the bottom of a dutch oven. Gently deflate your dough and form into a ball. Pinch together the bottom as necessary. Place the ball into the center of your dutch oven and cover. Set timer for 40 minutes. I love my Lodge dutch oven because I can use it upside down. This allows for easy scoring and access to the loaf.
2. Uncover bread when timer goes off and slash the top with a sharp knife. I often make more than one variety of bread at once so I like to use different patterns. One of my favorite designs for the Scape Boule harkens to the curly tops.
3. Once the top is scored, place the covered dutch oven into a cold oven. Turn the temperature to 450 degrees and set the timer for 30 minutes. When the timer goes off, remove the top of the dutch oven. Reset the timer for 15 minutes. Check bread. It should be a lovely golden brown and make a thunk noise when done. I usually cook mine for another 4 minutes at this point.
This is a wonderful stand-alone bread or equally fantastic when paired with garlic scape pesto pasta, a green salad, and mead. This bread also makes lovely croutons for your salads or soups—simply cut into 3/4-inch pieces and brown them in butter and olive oil. You may sprinkle with granulated garlic and parmesan when finished cooking. Nomilicious as toast for your breakfast egg sandwich with a side of krautchi!
Blythe Pelham is an artist that aims to enable others to find their grounding through energy work. She is in the midst of writing a cookbook and will occasionally share bits in her blogging here. She writes, gardens and cooks in Ohio. Find her online at Humings and Being Blythe, and read all of her MOTHER EARTH NEWS posts here.
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