Stinging nettle is one of the powerhouse plants of spring, not only is it so good for you it’s also super tasty. Baking it into bread with other ingredients that spell spring like goat feta is my favorite use for it.. other than tea but more on that later. If you are going to bake bread with beautiful ingredients you might as well showcase them by making it a twist loaf.

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Stinging Nettle

Stinging nettle plant


If you’ve never tried stinging nettle I highly suggest you do so. Even if you don’t want to get into foraging your own it can sometimes be found fresh at the farmers market during the spring.

Stinging nettle, when harvested for eating, is gathered in the spring when the plant has just emerging and the leaves are still tender. Only the first few sets of leaves are harvested and rest is left to grow.

For this recipe however, any state of stinging nettle works, dried, fresh, or blanched. I show how to blanch it in this recipe for stinging nettle biscuits HERE.

My favorite way for this particular recipe though, is fresh. Chopping up fresh stinging nettle comes with somewhat of a guarantee that you’ll get stung though. Sitting in the fridge for a while, and being rinsed does take away some of the intensity of the plants sting but it can still get you. Just a warning, I think the risk is worth and it really don’t mind getting stung but if you do you could opt for gloves. I just hold the nettles down and more them around mostly with a spatula while I chop it helps a bit.

Goat Feta

You might not think of feta in particular as a spring food. Since we can get it at the supermarket all year round it is easy to take it for granted. However feta is a fresh cheese, and without fresh milk there is no fresh cheese. So if you can find a local farm that makes its own cheese and fall in love with their amazing goat feta only to have it taken away for the winter when the goats aren’t producing, then I suggest you do. It is naturally a higher price point to buy it this way but it is a lovely treat especially when you’ve gone the winter without it and it’s just come back in the spring after all the goats have kid.

Now you don’t have to use goat feta, and you certainly don’t have to use farmers market feta. I’ve used cows feta from the supermarket for this recipe and while the flavour is a little different it was still good. The symbolism of feta being associate with the spring is there no matter how you are buying it. However! if you are a feta lover then find a local cheese maker and try it out.

Bread

Bread.. I love making bread. I was never what you’d call a bread lover, I am not the kind of person who can’t turn down a dinner bun or who fawns over bread at the bakery. Until I started making my own just to fill a need in our house. That’s when it all changed. Suddenly I wanted more, wanted to know more, make more, eat more. Yeast is a fascinating thing that produces something so wonderful, aromatic and nourishing. The history of bread is the history of civilization. I could go on and on but my point here is bread is good, bread is cool. This recipe.. is for bread.

The flour

For any bread recipe you find you can change the flour, it just means knowing how different flours behave and adjusting for it accordingly. For this recipe I use standard white unbleached all purpose flour, nothing fancy. You could use whole wheat but you would want to decrease the amount used, doing a direct exchange with result in a very dry loaf. Decrease the amount of flour a lot, even by a cup, then slowly add more back in until you get a nice dough ball that is slightly sticky.

For a lot of my bread recipes I like to use a combo of white and whole wheat, or bread flour and red fife or rye. White flour rises better and bigger than any whole wheat or ancient grains, bread flour even more so, so by mixing them you can get that nice lift with the added flavor and nutrition of the other grains. However all that being said, I am sticking with the unbleached white all-purpose flour for today.

Making Stinging Nettle and Feta Twist Bread

This recipe is pretty simple, and actually very forgiving. It is technically an enriched bread since it contains milk, and you could add an egg to it if you wanted to, however I do not.

If you are using dried nettles I find it better to lower the amount a little bit since the texture is a bit well, drier.

For people who might not share my love of stinging nettle and wild foods then this recipe would work beautifully with spinach too. Spinach and nettles while they have a very different flavour are easily switched out for one another in most recipes.

Ingredients

Bread

3/4 cup warm water

3/4 cup milk

2 1/4 tsp or one package dried yeast

1 tbsp sugar

3 1/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour

1 tsp salt

Filling

2 tbsp unsalted butter

1/2 cup stinging nettle finely chopped

3/4 cup crumbled feta

Salt and pepper

Making the Bread

  1. In a measuring cup or bowl combine warm water, not hot, with sugar and yeast. Stir gently and let it sit for a few minutes until it starts to foam.
  2. Add in milk.
  3. Start adding in flour and salt, hold back 1/4 cup of the flour and add in only if necessary.
  4. Stir to combine, then pour mixture onto countertop and knead to fully combine ingredients. Your dough should be slightly sticky to the touch.
  5. Knead for 5 minutes. Place in a oiled bowl and cover.
  6. Set in warm place to rise for 45 minutes to an hour, until it’s doubled in size. *
  7. Empty your proofed dough onto a lightly floured counter top and knead a few times. then shape it into a square and flatten it with your hands , let it rest for a couple minutes then stretch it out and flatten it more.** Repeat until it’s as big enough. Make it large enough to get a good surface coverage of all your filling ingredients without it being to thick to roll.***

* I turn on my oven to 350 degrees for 1 minute then set my covered bowl in there to proof. just make sure the oven is off.

** If the dough starts to resist you just let it rest again. Then try again.

*** 15″ by 15″ is a good reference but there is no need for exact measurements.

Adding the Stinging nettle and feta Filling

  1. Do not premix the filling, instead layer it on starting with the butter.
  2. Apply softened butter with a spatula or your hand covering the whole surface of the dough. Gently divot the surface of the dough with your fingers as you go. Do not poke holes all the way through.
  3. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
  4. Spread the crumbled up feta and the chopped up or crushed stinging nettle over the whole surface.

Rolling the dough

  1. Roll the dough up by starting at one end and slowly rolling towards the other side. Tuck the top under to keep it tight. If the dough sticks to the counter use a spatula to help lift it.
  2. Roll slowly to keep it even, don’t worry if it gets a little loose.
  3. Cut the roll long-ways down the center. It is easier to get a nice cut by repeating light slices rather than pressing hard and squishing the dough to get through it.
  4. Gently pick up the end of one piece and place it over the other. Continue crossing them over each other keeping the cut part exposed at the top (just for looks). Tuck under the ends.
  5. Place in an oiled bread pan.
  6. Proof uncovered for 45 mins to an hour until doubled in size.

Bake

Bake at 350 deg for 20 mins then turn down to 325 and bake for another 15.

If the top starts to get too dark before the first 20 minutes turn it down sooner. This bread takes a little longer to bake due to the filling. The times may need some adjustment based on your oven and elevation.

Test to see if it is done by gently pressing down on a spall piece if it sinks in and doesn’t come back up the bread is still doughy and needs longer. When it is done I always do another test, I will gently pull apart one of the cracks near the center to look down into it, better safe than sorry. Cutting into your bread and finding it uncooked is so disheartening so ruining a bit of the look by double checking is worth it in my books. Although if you are careful no one will notice anyway.

Let it cool, and enjoy!

stinging nettle and feta twist bread on wooden background top down

Tips for cutting.

Fresh bread can be pretty hard to cut without squishing it. For loaves like these ones I find it works best to flip it upside down and start cutting from the bottom. This and always waiting until your bread is cooled (I know it is hard) will help keep the structure of the bread while you cut.

I love the way the twist shows off the ingredients!

Stinging nettle feta twist bread grilled cheese

stinging nettle and feta bread grilled cheese on wooden plate

This is my favorite way to eat it, it’s so good. the bread crisps up really nice. I use mayo on the sides, add a little salt and pepper and maybe a tomato then fry it in a cast iron pan and it’s perfect!

I am a big fan of all the green marbling in the bread, it makes the mouth water looking at it.

Compared to just making a regular loaf of bread this in not that much extra work but it has a much bigger wow factor. It just looks good plain and simple.

stinging nettle and feta twist bread loaf cut up on wooden background

While taking the pictures for this post the babies sat by quietly following me around with the bread until they decided enough was enough and took matters into their own hands, literally.

This is a food I feel good about them eating!

Thief!
Print Recipe
stinging nettle and feta bread slice on board

Stinging Nettle and Feta Twist Bread

Sheenarae
Bread with stinging nettle and feta filling.
Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 35 mins
Proofing 2 hrs
Total Time 2 hrs 50 mins
Servings 12 Slices

Equipment

  • Bowl
  • Loaf pan

Ingredients
  

Bread

  • 3/4 cup warm water
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 2 1/4 tsp dried yeast or one package
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 3 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp salt

Filling

  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter soft
  • 1/2 cup stinging nettle finely chopped
  • 3/4 cup feta crumbled
  • salt and pepper

Instructions
 

Making the bread

  • In a measuring cup or bowl combine warm water with sugar and yeast. Stir gently and let it sit for a few minutes until it starts to foam.
  • Add in milk.
  • Start adding in flour and salt, hold back 1/4 cup of the flour and add in only if necessary.
  • Stir to combine, then pour mixture onto countertop and knead to fully combine ingredients. Your dough should be slightly sticky to the touch.
  • Knead for 5 minutes. Place in an oiled bowl and cover.
  • Set in warm place to rise for 45 minutes to an hour, until it’s doubled in size. *
  • Empty your proofed dough onto a lightly floured counter top and knead a few times.
  • Then shape it into a square and flatten it with your hands , let it rest for a couple minutes then stretch it out and flatten it more.** Repeat until it's as big enough. Make it large enough to get a good surface coverage of all your filling ingredients without it being too thick to roll.***

Adding the filling

  • Do not premix the filling, instead layer it on starting with the butter.
  • Apply softened butter with a spatula or your hand covering the whole surface of the dough. Gently divot the surface of the dough with your fingers as you go. Do not poke holes all the way through.
  • Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
  • Spread the crumbled up feta and the chopped up or crushed stinging nettle over the whole surface.

Forming the loaf

  • Roll the dough up by starting at one end and slowly rolling towards the other side. Tuck the top under to keep it tight. If the dough sticks to the counter use a spatula to help lift it.
  • Cut the roll long ways down the center. It is easier to get a nice cut by repeating light slices rather than pressing hard and squishing the dough to get through it.
  • Gently Pick up the end of one piece and place it over the other. Continue crossing them over each other keeping the cut part exposed at the top (just for looks).Tuck under the ends.
  • Place in an oiled loaf pan.
  • proof uncovered for 45 mins to an hour, until it is doubled in size.

Baking

  • Preheat oven at 350 deg
  • Bake for 20 minutes at 350 until top is golden brown
  • Turn oven down to 325 and bake for another 15 minutes until fully baked through.
  • Cool and enjoy.

Notes

* I turn on my oven to 350 degrees for 1 minute then set my covered bowl in there to proof. Just make sure the oven is off.
** If the dough starts to resist you just let it rest again. Then try again.
*** 15″ by 15″ is a good reference but there is no need for exact measurements.
Keyword bread, bread, twist bread, feta, stinging nettle, wild food

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