We called this Lammas bread as we first made it at the start of August, when the Pagan sabbat that marks the beginning of the harvest is celebrated. It combines the fresh nettle seed — a reminder of the summer in full swing — with the hay-like sweetness of dandelion honey.
Common nettle (Urtica dioica) is rich with nutrients and, in the spring, breads are among one of the many uses for its leaves, which contain Vitamins A, B, C, K, calcium and iron, among other minerals. But even after the leaves can no longer be used, the seeds, which appear as pendulous tendrils from July onwards, offer a range of culinary uses.
Although they don’t pack a massive flavour punch, they combine nuttiness with a fresher zing and can add subtle interest to dishes. They are also highly nutritious, containing an oil high in polyunsaturated fatty acids (mainly linoleic and beta-linoleic, Rutto et al., 2013). As a herbal medicine, the seeds are believed to help give an energy boost and brighten mood by supporting the adrenal glands and endocrine system.
Although most abundant in the spring, dandelions can still be found in later summer, but if you don’t have dandelion honey in store, or the time to make some, then normal honey in a smaller quantity will do just as well.
This bread takes approximately 45 minutes to prepare and bake, plus around 2 hours proving and cooling time. The recipe makes one soft, tear-and-share style loaf (roughly 10 servings).
To prepare the nettle seeds
It is best to use gloves when both picking and preparing nettle seeds as the stings can remain on the seed clusters. After picking, leave to dry at room temperature for 2-3hrs to make it easier to remove the seeds from the stalk.