7/13/2012

Sweet Goldenrod Cupcakes

Sweet Goldenrod (Solidago odora)
Lots of gardeners don't know this plant but it's native across the Ozarks, down into Tennessee and other areas, too. It can be easily be grown over a wider area, as well.

Sweet Goldenrod (Solidago odora), which I thought was the only goldenrod that has uses in the kitchen, but Solidago altissima, also has an anise-like flavor. Imagine an herb that has leaves that taste somewhere between anise and French tarragon. Now imagine that flavor combined with honey and you have the flavor of the flowers.
This one grows easily in my lavender bed.
Some years ago the International Herb Association (which is meeting this week in Upstate NY) hosted a "Exciting New Plants" forum. I brought Sweet Goldenrod as my contribution and Conrad Richter of Richters Herbs, asked for seed and started offering the plants for sale from his catalog.
The plant grows about 3 feet tall, likes well-drained soil and begins blooming in July here in the Ozarks Mountains. Mine came from along the edge of pine woods in sandy soil. It grows in full to part sun. Just like any herb the leaves and/or flowers can be dried for use later, although the flavor is best when fresh.

Think you don't like goldenrod because it makes you sneeze? That myth has been completely debunked. The myth was started by a misguided ad campaign decades ago. To read the story, and why goldenrod doesn't give you allergies, read the story here. The culprit is ragweed, not goldenrod.

Susan Albert, author of those wonderful China Bayles herbal mysteries I love, wrote saying she has another variety that is also anise-scented, growing near her. She uses it for tea, so it would also be good for culinary purposes. And in checking, I see that the one she refers to, Solidago altissima, is also native to Missouri and surrounding states. See photos and descriptions here.

So, just what do you use Sweet Goldenrod for? Chop up the leaves in chicken salad, much like you would French tarragon or Mexican Mint Marigold. Add the flowers, pulled from the stems, to cake and cupcake recipes. Sprinkle the flowers on buttered toast with honey. Here's an easy cupcake recipe using the flowers. 

Sweet Goldenrod Cupcakes
2 cups flour
2 - 3 tablespoons fresh Sweet Goldenrod flowers
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup shortening (I use butter)
1 cup milk
3 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
3 eggs

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour a 9 x 12 inch cake pan - OR, place paper cupcake holders in a cupcake pan (this will make about 9 cupcakes).

In a food processor, combine the flour and Sweet Goldenrod flowers and process a few seconds to chop the flowers. Set aside that mixture aside.
In the food processor, cream the shortening and sugar until fluffy. Add the eggs and remaining ingredients and blend just enough to combine well. Pour into cupcake containers and bake for about 35-40 minutes or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean.
Top with shipped cream or powdered sugar. You'll never say bad things about goldenrod again!

3 comments:

lemonverbenalady said...

You are just the herbal brain I wish I had, Jim! You are an herbal wiz! I love reading all the recipes you come up with. Sorry bad sentence. Thanks as always for sharing your immense herbal talent with all of us. xxoo Nancy

Pammy said...

I was given some Goldenrod seeds this summer in our seed trading group. I'll have to check to see if it is the sweet variety. I was just thinking it would be good for the wildlife, but hadn't checked yet to see if it would be good in SE Texas. It seems as tho I see it here. Thanks for this post Jim. I had no clue it could be used this way as of course I do love to bake.

Susan Wittig Albert said...

Jim, thanks for posting the debunking link. That's important for people to know! I'm tweeting your great recipe. Question: I have lots of wild Solidago altissima, which will bloom in September. It makes a good tea (anise-flavored). Wouldn't it work as well as S. odora