Botanical Bread

My kitchen smells fabulous. I saw an Instagram post on Hodmedod’s feed about an interesting new grain blend from Venessa Kimbell, founder of The Sourdough School. As she rightly points out, even whole ancient grains and heritage wheats to grind at home are sold cleaned and graded, unlike the inclusions our ancestors would have inevitably ended up with in their bread. So, she has developed Botanical Blends in conjunction with farmers and growers using regenerative agriculture, and has incorporated seeds and flowers in with the cereals to replicate the diversity we once would have had in a more natural field mix.

This is such a simple idea but it hadn’t occurred to me to make that connection with the kinds of plants that would be growing in with the crop before we became so obsessed with monoculture. Vanessa encourages us to make up our own blends and I love the idea of drying petals and seeds and adding them to whole grains. Nettle seeds are full of minerals and vitamins, and I wonder if marigold and nasturtium would work too.

I used a cup of the blend, ground in my KitchenAid mill, which yielded about 175g of flour.

There is quite a bit of spelt in the mix, which I find to be quite a lively addition so I was conscious of keeping the timings of the turns and folds in fairly quick succession so I could leave it to enjoy a nice long slow rest in the fridge overnight. I have a rye starter which also likes to get a move on, and that plus spelt can make for a dough which overproves easily! The addition of strong organic white flour adds some guaranteed structural gluten and the dough responded really well. I started it at about 2pm, and it was in the fridge a couple of hours later, and then I baked it at 6am this morning.

It is subtly perfumed: you can faintly smell the rose petals and the spelt gives a wonderful nutty wholesome aroma.

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