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Rose Petal Bread
from the kitchen of Sharmagne Leland-St. John

2 packages active dry yeast
2 cups warm water
6 tablespoons honey
7 cups unbleached white or whole wheat flour
1 ⅔ tablespoons coarse salt
6 whole eggs plus one egg yolk
1 cup currants, softened in warm water
6 tablespoons melted butter
Butter for greasing bowls and cookie sheet
1 ½ teaspoon rosemary
1 ½ teaspoon basil
½ teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup finely chopped rose petals * (1 - 2 dozen red roses)
Several drops of red food colour

Pour ½ cup warm water in a large bowl; sprinkle with the packages of yeast.  Stir in the honey and let stand for 5 minutes.

Add the remaining warm water and 2 ½ to 3 cups of flour.  Beat by hand with a wooden spoon about 200 strokes.  Cover with a damp cloth, put in a warm place and let the dough rise for 35 to 45 minutes or until doubled.

Punch the dough down and beat in the salt, melted butter and 5 whole eggs and the one yolk.  Stir in the softened currants.

With a pestle and mortar, crush the rosemary, basil, cinnamon and the rose petals to make a paste.  Add the herb mixture to the dough in the bowl and knead it, blending well.  The bread should be a delicate rose hue.  If the colour from the petals isn't strong enough, use the red food colour sparingly.

Using a spoon, beat in the remaining flour.  Knead the dough until it comes away from the sides of the bowl. 

Lightly flour a bread board or a slab of marble and turn the dough out onto it.  Knead until smooth or elastic, about 10 to 12 minutes.  Add small amounts of flour if the dough becomes too sticky to handle. 

Place the dough in a buttered bowl.  Cover with a damp cloth.  Let it rise in a warm place until it has doubled in size (about 50 minutes).

Punch the dough down.   Cover it and let it rest again until it has doubled in bulk. (30 minutes)

Again punch the dough down.  Turn it onto a floured surface and let it rest for 5 minutes.  Shape the dough into one or two free form twists or coils.  Place on a buttered cookie sheet, cover lightly with a towel and let rise in a warm place until it has doubled again. (25 minutes)

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  Brush the loaf or loaves with the remaining whole egg, lightly beaten. 

Bake for about 50 minutes until nicely browned and the loaf sounds hollow when tapped lightly with the knuckles.  Place the bread on a wire rack to cool.

*Use ONLY rose petals which are free from pesticides.  These may be purchased from a florist or home grown in an organic garden.

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