I can't proclaim the brilliant idea for this cake came from me. I confess, I eat nettles in every way possible, even blending up raw in a morning green drink (yes, all green plants come from my lawn). When Debbie Miller of Earth Rythm Wellness in Ogdensburg, NY shared the recipe with me... I think the whole North Country knows I am a Nettle Queen, I thought "Why Not?" We make carrot cakes, beet cakes, zucchini cakes and breads; nettle cake sounds like a splendid idea to me.
The original recipe came from Kate Hackworthy, a freelance food writer, magazine columnist and blogger who admits to being unashamedly obsessed with vegetables. I don't know her but I like her already! Kate lives in the UK and writes about her veggie obssessions on her blog Veggie Desserts.
Here is what I did differently. Come on, don't act shocked. If you know me, you know every recipe gets the Paula Whole Food Makeover.
- I added pasture raised goat's milk (nope, I don't have goats but I love my farmer and farm family who care for my goats.)
- I used 4 eggs, yup, from the same loved farmer. Eggs bind things better and I use gluten free flours. No gluten in the flour and things tend to get crumbly, cakes can fall apart. But, the frosting always glues things back together nicely! ; )
- I stuck with the 3/4 cup sugar. Surprised? Are you saying: "What? Paula always decreases the sugar?" Yes, I do but most cake recipes call for 2 cups of sugar that I immediately decrease to 2/3 or 3/4 a cup. Kate, the veggie loving gal from the UK, did this for me!
- At least 1 tablespoon (3 teaspoons) of real, organic vanilla. Recipe called for 2 teaspoons. I am heavy handed with vanilla and pour right from the bottle into the batter despite what my high school home ec teacher tried to teach me. Sorry Jane.
- I used 1 1/2 to 1 3/4 cups of gluten free flour not refined, white, wheat flour. This is why my cake will not be so luminous green from the nettles but more of an earthy brown tinted green. I used a blend of oat, quinoa, millet, and amaranth flour that I ground fresh. All organic and the oats are certified gluten free as well.
- I used a very full, very rounded tablespoon of baking powder not the 2 teaspoons the recipe called for. Gluten free flour is, well gluten free, and can use a 'lil kick in the bran and germ butt to get fluffed up. Do not be mistaken: this cake will not be the light fluffy cakes you are expecting from baking with refined white flour. Will it be yummy: yes it will!
- Nettles: I easily over did the 2 packed cups. I did not boil them. The nettles are being pureed in the blender and baked in the oven. If the sting can withstand that well then sting away baby! Seriously, just blending the raw nettles into the batter gets rid of the sting. I make pesto with raw nettles all of the time and never have I been stung.
- I added 1/2 to 3/4 a tsp. of baking soda. Not sure why, just a habit and seems fitting with gluten free flour. (No, I do not used refined gluten free flour mixes of tapioca, potato, and/or white rice flour. Most gluten free flours and products are crap food sources that do not feed cellular health.)
- For the frosting: I made my customary heavy cream & neufchatel cheese frosting to which I added in the 1/2 lemon's worth of zest and 1/2 lemon's worth of juice (1 tablespoon). I did use a fresh organic lemon for the zest but I saved the juice part for my liver flush am drink and used bottled organic lemon juice. I figured the juice was getting baked at 350 F and would destroy the vitamin C so why not use the fresh lemon juice right now in its raw state? Yes, this is how my mind works all of the time.
- I used Sucanat unrefined organic sugar not refined white table sugar.
- I poured the batter into one 9" round cake pan instead of the two 7" pans. I like to slice cakes in half and toy with the gluten free flours ability to hold up to my kitchen play. The then raw cut surface of the cake soaks up the yummy frosting better. This took 50 minutes of baking at 350 F. I then cracked the oven door about 3-4 inches, shut off the gas, and let it sit there in the warm oven to cool.
OK, Ok, I will quit finger babbling and give you the ingredients and directions.
Into the VitaMix Blender I put:
- 1 cup goat's milk
- 4 eggs
- 2+ packed cups of raw nettle leaves, stems not removed 'cuz I am a nettle rebel
- 3/4 cup sucanat unrefined, organic sugar
- 1 tbsp. vanilla extract
- 3/4 cup soft butter (extra for lubing up the cake pan really well)
- zest of 1/2 lemon
- 1 tbsp. organic lemon juice
- 1 3/4 cups gluten free flour: oat, amaranth, quinoa, millet (no refined crap please, see #8 above)
- 1 tbsp. baking powder, aluminum free please, your brain will thank you
- 3/4 tsp. baking soda
- 1/2 tsp. unrefined sea salt of the pink Himilayan variety
- Preheat 350 F oven.
- Blend into a greenish brown frenzy.
- Stop 2-3 times to scrape the sides down.
- Rub that luscious butter all over the insides of the 9" cake pan.
- Pour cake batter into butter loved pan.
- Slip into that hot 'ole oven and bake for 50 minutes.
- After 50 minutes, slip a knife into the cake to see if it is done, finished, baked to perfection.
- If so, keep oven cracked 3-4 inches and leave cake on the rack.
- When cool, frost your 'lil stinging nettle cake with the frosting I use for everything...
- Organic heavy cream, one or two 8 oz containers
- Organic Neufchatel Cheese, one 8 oz package
- 2 - 4 tbsp. dark maple syrup
- Zest of 1/2 lemon
- 1 tbsp. lemon juice, basically juice from 1/2 lemon
- Put all ingredients in a mixing bowl and use an electric hand mixer to whip into frosting consistency.
- You can slice the cake open for 2 layers, if you wish. I suggest proceeding with caution as gluten free cakes can be tricksters.
- Let sit for a bit to settle into the flavor melding.
- Serve with the Blackberries that Kate of the UK suggests, or not.
- Enjoy. Nettles are amazing nourishing food. Adding them to cake makes sense!
Voilà: The finished cake!
Because of the whole grain flours and unrefined sugar (very brown and not white like refined baking ingredients), the cake does not have the luminous green of Kate's of the UK. It was delicous. As with all whole food baked goods I like to tell people to get used to the heavier texture. Unrefined foods mean you have the density of fiber, minerals, vitamins, complex carbohydates, proteins, and fats... not light, fluffy refined and empty calories (cellular health degenerating). Dense food is real food feeding your cellular health.