This time of year, we see a lot of acorns on the ground, but most of us don't give them much thought. Indigenous tribes throughout California, however, have always cherished acorns for their nutritional content and rich, nutty flavor. Our beloved kindergarten teacher Caryl Morton has been teaching students about indigenous cultures for many years. She appreciates how these lessons help children to see their world from a different perspective. One lesson, for example, includes walking around nature, imagining a pre-colonial landscape, and having the children try to figure out what they would eat, what they would use to build homes, and what their lives would look like.
One of her favorite projects is making acorn bread. It requires a fair amount of work behind the scenes, but the children love helping crack open the acorns and preparing the dough. And of course they love the final product! Below is the recipe that Caryl uses for her acorn bread. Of course, it includes a few ingredients that were not available to pre-colonial indigenous tribes, but it is inspired by similar versions that a number of tribes made.
Photo from In the Kitchen with Matt, where you'll find a variation of this recipe.
1 cup acorn flour (see notes at the bottom for making acorn flour)
1 cup whole grain flour
2 tbsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
3 tbsp. dark brown sugar or Splenda
1 egg, beaten
1 cup milk (or nondairy alternative)
1 tbsp. canola oil
1 tbsp. melted butter
Preheat your oven to 400° F.
Butter a loaf pan.
Sift together acorn meal, flour, baking powder, salt and sugar.
In a separate bowl, mix together egg, oil and milk.
Gradually mix in melted butter.
Combine dry and liquid ingredients.
Stir just enough to moisten dry ingredients, but do not overmix. The batter will be a bit lumpy.
Whisk in melted butter.
Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan.
Bake in the over at 400° F for 30 minutes.
Yield: 1 Loaf Serving Size: 12
Photo from Quercus Collective.
The key ingredient in this bread is acorn flour, but turning the acorns you find on the ground into flour isn't a quick process. Without proper processing to remove the tannins, acorns can cause upset stomachs ... and just not taste as good!
While you can find acorn flour online (see Etsy, Quercus Collective, or other sites), Caryl and her kindergartners love the process of collecting fallen acorns and cracking open the shells. Then comes the leaching!