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Nettle cake recipe: a delicious slice of spring!

Updated: May 9, 2022

It was my birthday last weekend, so i decided to exercise my dormant baking muscles and make a cake fit for a forager, and suited to a Beltane baby!

I do not bake often, not least because if there's cake in the house, someone has to eat it! But I also find that following recipes is not in line with the way i prefer to cook- i.e. throwing things in and improvising until it tastes good. This approach may work very well with savoury things, stews, soups etc, But it is less applicable to baking. the interactions of flour, sugar, eggs and butter are more akin to chemistry, even alchemy than the type of cooking I usually go for, so I went to the trusty Delia smith complete cookery book and tweaked it a bit. For each layer I used this recipe; ( page 595, all in one sponge) This made a huge, tall cake that fed over a dozen people.( the mix x2 divided into thirds would be sufficcient for a smaller cake)

110g self raising flour ( sifted) 1 tsp baking powder

110g soft margerine/ butter at room temp 110g caster sugar 2 large eggs

For the green layers I also added

2 cups of blanched nettle tops, pureed with the juice and zest of a lemon ( squeeze some of the water out of the nettles before blending)

1cup ground almonds.

The ingredients are mixed thus; Sift flour and baking powder into a bowl....

Then throw everything else in and mix with an electric mixer. the mixture should drop off a wooden spoon easily when tapped on the side of the bowl.. whatever that means... I chose to add a little extra flour to counteract the moisture of the nettles. Divide into greased ( and lined if you have the technology- I didnt) tins and put in a preheated oven, centre of a shelf at 170 degrees C for 30 mins. check with a skewer or knife. Then turn out onto a cooling rack 30 seconds after taking out of the oven! I assembled my cake with cream cheese icing ( of the sort used on carrot cake, but with added lemon juice and zest) between the layers. I also spiked holes in the plain sponge and added a generous slosh of gin, and the juice of a lemon. The whole lot was topped off with more icing, and edible flowers . In my case Lilac, oxslips, gorse, greater stitchwort and Ground ivy.

If you enjoy foraging and want to learn more about wild foods, have a look at my foraging courses

Don't forget we also offer the best Stone age school experiences in the south east. So if you are starting stone-age with your class or know of teachers/ parents of primary age children, get in touch now!

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