Delicious Nettle and Honey Cake
Nettles, in a cake?! I know what you're thinking - what a bizarre combination, and to be honest, even the kids were adamant they weren't going to try it; "Yuk" - was apparently their response on their way to meet me. However, at a glorious Spring foraging walk, the whole big, green(ish) cake was devoured, and yes, the children were practically in it before it was cut, and ate every last smidgen.
"That's possibly the best cake I've ever eaten" commented one participant - well even I was bowled over by that! So I thought it was time I shared the recipe with you.
I was brought up around baking - friday was baking day in our household, with cakes and snacks being made by mum for the coming week. Three hungry daughters, all with a sweet tooth - we were familiar with kneeling on chairs to stir large bowls of cake mixture, placing dollops in paper cases. Carefully ensuring a fair amount missed the cases for us to clean up with light fingers and sticky mouths.
As an adult, my love of cake making, and the alchemy of cooking has remained with me. I can't boast my mother's finely honed skills, though I can slowly line a cake tin, and since my teens have experimented with a broad range of cake recipes, from the classic sponge to sweetening with malt barley to adding wild twists.
Nettles, you may know, are a personal favourite of mine, and I'm always looking for new ways to incorporate them into both savoury and sweet dishes. Why miss out on their fabulous nutrition just because you favour cake over soup? No need I say, here's the recipe. Based on a Devonshire honey cake, it's rich, sweet in a wholesome way, and utterly, enjoyably cakey;
300g self-raising flour
250g clear honey
100g dark muscovado sugar
3 large eggs beaten
2 (gloved) handfuls of raw nettles
Weigh out the ingredients, next preheat the oven at 150°C, gas mark 2. Line a 20cm diameter cake tin with grease proof paper.
Lining a Cake Tin
Grease the sides and base of the tin with a little butter. Cut around the circle of the tin, with a couple of centimetres extra. Cut into the circle, just as far as the size of the tin base. Place inside, folding the paper up where the cuts are so they are rising up the tin sides. Do similar with measuring the cake sides, cutting into the edges again, and holding onto the base. You may need to add a little butter to the cut edges so the paper sticks to each other and holds the shape of the tin.
Using gloves, place nettles in a vegetable steamer (or saucepan with minimum water in) and steam or simmer for 5 minutes. Remove excess liquid (through a sieve or squeezing with a wooden spoon) and blend with a food blender, once blended, squeeze a little extra liquid out, though not too much that you remove all the flavour!
Next, break the butter into pieces & put in a pan with the sugar & honey. On a low heat, stir until melted, transfer contents into a mixing bowl,adding the nettle pulp & put aside to cool for 15-20 minutes.
Beat the eggs and add into the butter/sugar/nettle mixture, then stir in the flour. Pour into the cake tin & bake for about 1 hour 10-20 minutes.
Or until the cake is golden brown, springs back when pressed & a skewer pushed into the middle comes out clean. Remove & leave to cool a little before slicing. Delightful while still warm. Or until the cake is golden brown, springs back when pressed & a skewer pushed into the middle comes out clean. Remove & leave to cool a little before slicing. Delightful while still warm.
I've since updated this recipe, you can see my most recent version here; Spring dessert: Nettle and Honey Cake with Gorse Flower Syrup