Although dandelion and burdock is quite traditional in Britain, being drank as a light mead in the Middle Ages, it is something I tried only last week. Although it looks like it might be quite a heavy drink, the floral tones mean it is actually lighter and sweeter than I expected. Since I seemed to be on a roll with my unusual flavour pairings (as with my lemon and earl grey caramel shortbreads) I thought why not continue the theme? Therefore, by taking inspiration from GBBO finalist (and in this case winner), Nadiya Hussain, I decided to try and turn it into a cake. For one of the challenges I remember she spent ages boiling down different sodas in order to flavour some cheesecakes, so I thought why not give it a go as well.
I therefore bought some dandelion and burdock from Browns’s Lakeside Larder, the farm shop that has just opened at Kirkharle Courtyard. I normally work in the coffee, but my recent shifts there have definitely not done me any good in terms of more unusual baking ideas; basically my tips are all going straight in the till until I have experimented a little with a few of the different products (putting all the sweet things near the till is proving fatal!). Brown’s stocks a soda brand from Breckland Orchard called ‘Posh Pop’. Having already tried the ginger and chilli beer, which I can shamefully tell you goes really well with Jamesons whiskey, I thought I would give their dandelion and burdock a go too. Although I do not necessarily have a lot of grounds for comparison, I did really enjoy it. Hence my decision to whack it in a pan, make it into a syrup and pray I wouldn’t ruin it!
I decided to combine this method with a recipe from the Primrose Bakery. Their apple and blueberry loaf is frequently request in my house and both they and the ginger snaps have featured on my Instagram, cakeholebakes. As a result, it has now become almost completely dedicated to cake. This is particularly true now I feature all my blog recipes on there too, but they are occasionally broken up by the odd picture of a night out or something along those lines to prove I do actually have a life! Although it isn’t on my instagram, I have tried the ginger loaf from one of their recipe books and it was delicious. However, this recipe is one the reasons I decided to half the quantities. When I made ti there was so much batter that it completely overflowed the tin, so my lack of baking finesse in this instance lead to a strange ginger lava cake thing on the bottom of the oven, which I realised was still surprisingly good as I shamelessly scraped it off and ate it! Hence my halfing the recipe; at least both the oven and my jeans will grateful. I also switched some of the molasses sugar for some light muscovado to try and prevent the treacle flavour from masking the more delicate tones of the dandelion and burdock. To create those tones I also used the soda syrup in place of the black treacle and then made some extra to pour over as a glaze after the loaf had finished baking in the same way you would with a lemon drizzle.
This worked quite well: the texture of the cake was really lovely. Although dandelion and burdock is, for me personally, quite difficult to pin down as it isn’t something I’m familiar with the lightness of the cake and the richness of the flavours complimented each other. I also snook a few pieces into work when my parents weren’t looking and they all agreed. One of them actually suggested making an icing out of the dandelion and burdock which is a really good idea, so this is something you could experiment with if you want the flavour to be more noticeable in the final bake. Either way I hope you enjoy!
Dandelion and Burdock Loaf Cake (serves approx. 8)
For the Loaf:
- 125ml Dandelion and Burdock
- 100g Unsalted Butter
- 45g Molasses Sugar
- 45g Light Muscovado Sugar
- 1 large egg
- 150g Self Raising Flour
- Pinch of Salt
For the Syrup:
- 125ml Dandelion and Burdock
- Preheat your oven to 180C/ 160 Fan/ 320F.
- Put the dandelion and burdock in saucepan and bring to a simmer over a low to medium heat. Reduce until the soda thickens; you won’t have a lot left, probably about the equivalent of 1-2tbsp.
- Once reduced, add the butter and both sugars to the pan and melt completely.
- Leave to cool slightly and then stir in the milk.
- Beat the eggs slightly in a separate bowl and mix into the saucepan. Transfer this to a mixer and then sift in the flour and the salt, combining thoroughly once it has all been added.
- Pour the mixture into a greased and lined loaf tin and bake in the centre of your oven for about 50 minutes.
- While the loaf is baking, repeat the process with the rest of the dandelion and burdock to make the syrup. However, you do not want to reduce it quite as much this time. Although it should still thicken very slightly, you don’t have to worry quite as much about the quantity you have left.
- When the loaf is done, remove it from the oven and leave to cool for about 10 minutes. Prick holes in the cake with a wooden skewer and pour over the dandelion and burdock syrup. Leave to cool completely in the tin.