How To... Make a Birdseed Wreath
This year, why not give the birds outside your window a special treat—a birdseed wreath you can bake in your own oven? Hang it from the eaves near your favorite window or slip it over a tree limb nearby and get ready for lots of feathered friends to stop by.
It’s easy to bake this birdseed wreath using readymade bread dough from your local grocery. Adorn with peanut butter and lots of birdseed, hang it up outdoors, and get ready to watch the feast. Makes a great housewarming gift, too.
WHAT YOU’LL NEED
- 14-16 oz. frozen or readymade whole-wheat, preservative-free bread dough or pizza dough. (You’ll find this in the refrigerator or freezer section of your grocery.)
- 2-3 tablespoons whole wheat flour
- Large baking sheet
- 1 tablespoon cooking oil (We used expeller-pressed canola oil.)
- Biodegradable paper towel or pastry brush (for spreading oil on the baking pan)
- Cooling rack
- About 2 feet of flexible wire (We used florist’s wire.)
- 4-5 tablespoons naturally prepared peanut butter
- 1 cup birdseed mix
- Natural raffia ribbon (optional)
Thaw the frozen dough overnight in your refrigerator. Remove thawed or readymade dough from refrigerator approximately 30 minutes before using—the dough will be much more elastic and easy to work with if you’ve allowed it to come to room temperature. Place the dough on a lightly floured work surface. Cut into three pieces of approximately equal size and weight. Roll into rope-shaped pieces approximately 1 inch in diameter and 24 inches in length.
Grease the baking sheet and the outside of the small, round baking dish using 1 tablespoon cooking oil and a paper towel or pastry brush. Invert the round baking dish and place it in the center of the baking sheet.
Braid the three rope-shaped pieces together and form into a wreath around the inverted baking dish on the baking sheet. Press the ends firmly together to seal. (Leave the baking dish in the center of the braid during rising and baking so that the wreath retains an even circular shape.)
Tip — Begin braiding in the middle rather than starting at one end—you’ll end up with a more evenly shaped wreath.
Cover loosely with a clean kitchen towel and let the dough rise until doubled in size—approximately 1 hour.
Tip —For optimal conditions, place the wreath (still on its baking sheet) in a cold oven, close the door, and turn on the oven to 400° for exactly one minute. Then turn off the heat and let the dough rise inside the warm oven with the door closed.
When the dough has doubled in size (about an hour later), remove it from the oven and then preheat the oven to 350°. Place the baking sheet on the center rack of the hot oven and bake until the wreath is brown—about 30 minutes. Remove the wreath from the oven and let it cool for about 10 minutes.
Tip — You’ll know the wreath is done if it sounds hollow when you tap it. (Use a pot holder—the baking sheet and wreath are hot!)
Gently move the wreath to a cooling rack. Loop the wire through the center of the wreath, then twist together near the outer edge of the wreath and twist the ends together to form a loop.
Leave the wreath on its cooling rack and let sit for at least 24 hours so that it can dry out and harden slightly.