Yes, a stinging nettle cake! Boiling the nettles gets rid of the sting, and this cake tastes very spring-like as the flavour of the nettles fades away beneath the zesty lemon.
I know what you’re thinking: ouch. But trust me, just don the rubber gloves and go rummaging in the hedges. Stinging nettles make a fabulous soup, they’re free and they’re good for you, properly good for you, and perhaps even better than spinach or broccoli.
Like kale’s best friend before kale got popular (grew boobs, lost the braces and announced that “on Wednesdays we wear pink”), stinging nettle has all the makings of your favourite leafy green, but because the supermarkets don’t stock it, and it, well, stings, many haven’t tried it. Funny that as the stuff really gets about.
I’m sure you know where to find it, and obviously you’ll want to stay away from major roads to avoid pollution. Nettle is best in the early spring so make haste and get foraging, choosing the top four to six leaves. This recipe calls for 100g or 2 cups, packed, which is about a small shopping bag full. For a detailed description of how to forage nettles, take a look at this nettle guide.
I topped the cake with blackberries, but you could top it with any fruit. At the moment I also have lots of blackcurrants, but I think instead I’ll use them to make this blackcurrant cordial from The Hedgecombers or Foodie Quine’s blackcurrant flapjack. Speaking of gluts and foraging, I also want to make this tomato and courgette chutney from Elizabeth’s Kitchen Diary, as well as her plum cake. But I digress… My love of foraging and reducing food waste has taken me on a tangent.
Boiling the nettles gets rid of the sting, so don’t worry that this nettle cake will sting. Instead it tastes very spring-like as the flavour of the nettles fades away beneath the zesty lemon.
One of my old best friends from school went camping with her family when she was 13. She went for a wee in the woods (you know where I’m going with this, don’t you?), and used stinging nettle’s evil cousin, poison ivy, as toilet roll. Hospitalised. *facepalm*
So, without further adieu, here’s the recipe for Lemon and Stinging Nettle Cake with Lemon Icing. A luminously green foraged cake.
- 100g (2 cups, packed) raw young nettle leaves (use the top 4-6 leaves)
- 200g (3/4 cup) unsalted butter, softened
- 150g (3/4 cup) granulated sugar
- 3 eggs
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- zest and juice of ½ lemon
- 250g (2 cups) plain flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 150g (2/3 cup) unsalted butter, softened
- 300g (2 ½ cups) powdered icing sugar
- Zest and juice of ½ a lemon
- blackberries (optional)
- lemon zest (optional)
- Preheat oven to 170C/325F. Grease and line two 7” round cake tins.
- Using rubber gloves, carefully wash the stinging nettle leaves and remove any stems. Place in a pan of boiling water and boil for 3-4 minutes. The sting will be removed with the boiling. Refresh under cold water, drain and puree. Set aside.
- In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, then beat in the nettles, vanilla, zest and lemon juice.
- Sift in the flour, baking powder and salt and stir to gently combine.
- Spoon the mixture into the prepared tins, push to the edges and level, then bake for 25 minutes or until an inserted skewer comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes in the tins and then turn onto a wire rack to cool completely before icing.
- In a large bowl, cream the butter until fluffy. Add in the icing sugar and beat. Beat in the zest and a little of the lemon juice. Add more lemon juice to make it a frosting consistency and beat again. Store in the fridge until ready to use.
- Spread a little of the buttercream between the layers of the completely cooled cakes and sandwich together. Cover the cake in the remaining buttercream and decorate with blackberries and lemon zest.
I topped the cake with blackberries, but you could top it with any fruit. At the moment I also have lots of blackcurrants, but I think instead I’ll use them to make this blackcurrant cordial from The Hedgecombers or Foodie Quine’s blackcurrant flapjack. Speaking of gluts and foraging, I also want to make this tomato and courgette chutney from Elizabeth’s Kitchen Diary. But I digress… (My love of foraging and reducing food waste has taken me on a tangent)