I’ve been meaning to try dock flour for a couple of years. I’ve been nibbling on the leaves for a while—they remind me of Swiss chard—but either laziness or bad timing or some combination of both had conspired against me mucking about with the seeds up to this point, so this summer, I made up my mind to try it in something. Anything.
Many foraging sites are obsessed with using all types of wild seed flours for pancakes, but pancakes and I have never really seen eye to eye. Dock seeds are a deep, reddish brown, like cocoa, so something in the chocolate family seemed more appropriate.
Melt ½ of a large bar (100 g) of dark chocolate (45% cacao or better). Add ¼ cup butter and ¼ cup sugar and cream together. Add 1 egg and mix well. Add 1/3 cup dock flour and 1/3 cup white flour and mix until flour is just incorporated. Add 1/3 cup rhubarb, or other fruit you have on hand, chopped reasonably small. Preheat oven to 350° F.
Sprinkle ½ tsp baking soda over mix, then ½ tsp vinegar. Mix lightly then transfer the batter into a greased pan (or muffin tins) and spread evenly. The batter should be heavy, not runny. You want to let the batter sit for a bit; dock is a type of wild buckwheat and requires more time to absorb liquid ingredients than other, more processed grains.
Just before it goes into the oven, drizzle 1-2 tbsp liquid sweetener (honey, maple syrup, etc. I used sumac sorrel syrup) and 1-2 tbsp water over the batter. Substitute the water for whatever other liquid you have on hand: juice, club soda, milk, etc. Pick up the pan and tilt it back and forth to move the liquid all over the surface of the batter. Bake 350° F for 20-25 minutes (if in muffin tins, 15-20 minutes) or when a knife comes clean.
Nosh Note: Once the cake was cooled, I covered it with a thin layer of chocolate icing (icing sugar, cocoa, butter, milk). The cake was tasty, although still a little on the grainy side. When I make it again, I’ll either let the batter sit a bit longer, or up the moisture content, likely tossing more chopped up fruit in it.
How to make your own dock flour
Make sure that you have a clean source of dock. Collect the dock seeds once they have turned brown and are crispy or papery to the touch. Bat the stalks gently to loosen any insects that may be on them. Use your fingers and pinch the base of one stalk of seeds, then run your fingers quickly up the stalk towards you. The seeds will fall off into your palm. Store them in a paper bag until you can get them home.
You don’t have to do this step, but it’s not a bad idea. Set your oven to 170° F (usually the lowest setting), spread the seeds on a cookie sheet, and let the seeds sit in the oven with the door slightly ajar overnight. This’ll make sure all the seeds are dry and kill any bugs you may have inadvertently brought home with you.
Grind the seeds, including the chaff that surrounds the seed. I used a coffee grinder because I had a small amount, but you can also use a blender or a food processor. For every cup of seed, you’ll get about 1/3 cup of flour.
Dock is a type of wild buckwheat and if you’ve ever had buckwheat pancakes, there can sometimes be a graininess that people don’t like. Use a mortar and pestle once the seed is ground for a finer flour. The other way is to allow batters or doughs to sit longer than they normally would, which will allow the dock flour to absorb more moisture.
Be an ethical forager. If you plan to begin foraging, do your homework. Learn which plants are invasive and which are more sensitive to over harvesting. It is your responsibility to ensure your own safety. If in doubt, don’t put it in your mouth!