We have an abundance of dandelions in our garden. I love that they bring some much-needed colour after winter bleaches the Scottish landscape, and that they feed the bees which seem to happily inhabit our garden… but they really do take over huge swathes of ground.
I play a game of chicken with them every year – how long dare I let them flower? Too long and they release clouds of seed across the ground, but no long enough and my polinators go hungry.
And I really don’t like just (compost) binning them. The dandelion is a versatile food source – roots and leafs and flower are all edible. What a waste of food to simply pull it up and throw it away.
Lots of people make salads, dandelion wine, vegan ‘honey’*, root ‘coffee’, or Greek radikia, from various parts of the plant, but I wanted something quick and child-friendly so I settled on a 2-egg Victoria sponge with petals in it, baked in a loaf tin.
Some notes: I don’t actually use a recipe when I’m making Victoria sponge. I weigh my eggs, add the same weight of self-raising flour, the same again of sugar, then half that weight of vegetable oil and half of milk. I use the veg oil/milk combination because it’s cheaper than the equivalent quantity of butter, and because I don’t need to buy an extra ingredient i.e. margarine. If you go down this route, vegetable oil and sunflower oil work beautifully. Extra virgin rapeseed oil is awesome for nutty cakes like carrot, or coffee and walnut, but not so much for fluffy sweet things. Whatever you do, don’t use olive oil or sesame oil – trust me. Just don’t.
In case you’re not an egg-weighing person, I roughly used 120g sf flour, 120g sugar, 60mls milk, 60mls oil and 2 eggs for this cake – plus the 2 eggs and the dandelion petals.
To get your petals, all you need to do is pick some flowers – or have small, helping hands do that for you – and chop the green bits off.
It doesn’t matter if you leave a few stray greens in – it’s all edible – but too many will leave a bitter taste.
In total, you need around a cup of dandelion petals, but you can add more or less depending on your personal preference. I’m not a precise cook so I would absolutely encourage experimentation.
Bake the cake for around 40 minutes at 160C, or until a skewer comes out clean. Once you’ve done that, leave it to cool and slice when ready. If you can bring yourself to, though, I would recommend leaving it for 24 hours for the flavours to mature a little. You’ll get more of the sweet, honey undertones that way. The texture is also much more stable, and therefore willing to carry more butter. Just saying.
And there you have it. A tasty way to reduce the spread of weeds in your garden.
Have you tried eating dandelions? What are you favourite recipes? I would love to try them out! Contact me here, or on Twitter.
*Which I’m sure my 90+ yr old friend said was what most people would have used during WW2 if honey wasn’t available, though I could be wrong.