It’s mid-April and the Forsythia is blooming here in New Hampshire. These cheery, yellow flowers are one of the first plants to add a pop of color to the landscape. Forsythia bushes are deciduous shrubs that can grow 3-9 feet in height and, rarely, up to 20 feet. Their drooping branches grow yellow flowers before the leaves in the spring, and fruit in warmer climates. Fortunately, these bright yellow, four-lobed flower petals are edible! Usually enjoyed raw, they do offer a unique bitter taste. Typically, these yellow blooms are added to a variety of foods or transformed into beauty products. After a long winter here in New England, it’s nice to nibble on fresh produce from the yard.
There are a dozen species of Forsythia, most of which are native to eastern Asia and one in southeastern Europe. One cultivar, Forsythia suspensa, the weeping Forysthia, is very important to Chinese medicine and has been used for thousands of years. Also known as lian qiao, this shrub produces yellow fruit and seeds that contain medicinal properties. The Chinese have used the unripe fruit internally for chills, fevers, headaches, and externally for infections, rashes, burns, and so on. The seeds have been shown to contain anti-inflammatory properties. Since the flowers are what grows here, we’ll enjoy them as a lovely addition to food!
Forsythia Twist Bread
This recipe may appear long and somewhat daunting but in reality it’s super easy and worth it! I’m by no means a baker and I pulled it off. The filling options are endless, have fun experimenting.
3 cups bread flour
2 teaspoons instant yeast
1 1/4 teaspoon salt
1 large egg
1/2 cup lukewarm milk
1/3 cup lukewarm water
3 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes or make your own oven roasted tomatoes*
5 cloves of garlic, peeled and minced
1/3 cup chopped fresh basil
1/2 cup fresh forsythia flowers or even more!
3/4 cup shredded cheese of your choice (optional)
- To make the dough: Combine all the dough ingredients in a mixing bowl, mix and knead – by hand, mixer, or in your bread machine on the dough cycle.
- Place the dough in a lightly greased bowl, covered, until it has doubled in size. This took roughly 45-60 minutes but can vary greatly depending on many factors such as outside temperatures.
- Meanwhile, drain the tomatoes, patting them dry. If you are roasting your own, prepare those as necessary. (It can be as easy as cutting a few tomatoes, scraping the insides out, and laying them on a lined baking sheet with a drizzle of olive oil, salt, and pepper. Bake in a 450 degree F oven for 25-30 minutes). Regardless, cut them into smaller bits. Kitchen shears work great for this.
- Gently deflate the dough. Roll, flatten, and pat into a 22″ X 8 ” rectangle. Next, spread the filling onto the dough
- Roll the dough into a log the long way. Pinch the edges to seal in the filling. Place the log, seam-side down, onto a lightly greased or parchment lined baking sheet.
- Using kitchen shears or a knife, carefully start 1/2″ from one end and cut the log lengthwise down the center (about 1″ deep) to within 1/2″ of the other side.
- With the cut sides facing up, form an “S” shape with the log. Tuck the ends under the center of the “S” to form a figure “8” and pinch them in place.
- Cover and let rise until doubled
- While the loaf is rising, preheat oven to 350 degree F
- Uncover the bread and bake for 35-40 minutes. Tent the bread halfway through to prevent over-browning.
- Remove from oven and allow to cool on a rack. Enjoy warm or at room temperature. Maybe even slather some herb butter all over it! Cheers
You may also want to try: Forsythia Flower Syrup