When the stinging nettle starts to pop up, it’s a sure sign of spring! Let’s celebrate the return of warmer weather with this stinging nettle cake. As an incredible vitamin- and mineral-rich wild green widely used in herbal medicine, nettle is an easy and ultra nutritious addition to your springtime celebrations. Packed with all the green goodness of nettle, this one-bowl gluten-free & vegan cake recipe is an ode to the earth & all the green things.
But before we get into that, I have a secret.
HERE YOU’LL FIND:
Bakers Gonna Bake: A (Not-So-Sweet) Confession
The Health Benefits of Stinging Nettle
Try These Other Stinging Nettle Recipes
How to Make Stinging Nettle Puree
How to Make a Stinging Nettle Layer Cake
More Botanical Sweets You’ll Love
Stinging Nettle Cake Recipe
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A Not-So-Sweet Confession
Here it is: I don’t like cake. Out of a sweet sea of desserts, I’ll
never very rarely choose cake. If I do, it’s usually reluctantly and it’s almost always chocolate and if you’re there to witness it, I’ll tell you it’s for market research.
And while that’s usually the truth, I’ll be sure to say it out loud because sometimes it feels weird to betray even your own secrets and I’m loyal to my secret distaste for cake. There, I said it. No explanation, just the plain truth.
And here is the ever-present but… I believe cake just happens to be one of the most perfect spaces for culinary art and expression. It’s challenging, exciting, and one of my absolute most favorite canvases for flavor, texture, and design.
I like the harmonious contrast and playful curiosity that flavor combinations can have, the heaven-in-your-mouth that every bite strives to be, and the raw and taunting promise inherent in every blank canvas that is a naked cake. And yet, there are so many things that could go wrong.
It could be too crumbly or too moist, too plain, or too much. Unless you stick to the still waters of cake classics and tried-and-true recipes, it’s so easy for things to take a horribly wrong turn. And in an instant, that thing you just made is actually not a cake at all. Instead, it’s compost.
On top of all that, if you bake without gluten, dairy, or eggs, you’re a gosh. darn. warrior. unafraid of failure, the over-and-over-again failure that laughs in the face of your valiant (or futile?) pursuit of perfection. It’s a good thing I’m a sucker for challenges because when you get it right, oh, the symphony.
What can I say? Cake inspires me. And when I’m a woman in the throes of inspiration and creativity, please step aside while I screw it up over and over again until it’s my own version of a devil-may-care kind of perfect.
It’s an intense and strange love affair and they say you can’t fight love.
The Health Benefits of Stinging Nettle
Love wins. And until it fades or flees, cake is a perfectly acceptable special occasion kind of vehicle for nutrition and plant medicine. Luckily, this stinging nettle cake recipe boasts a whopping 1 cup of pureed stinging nettles, blueberries for the superfood that they are, and the most medicinal part of the lemon, its peel.
Cake isn’t an everyday kinda treat, but when you want to indulge in a sweet treat, why not make it extra worth it? You gotta squeeze in the medicines of the earth where you can. You and your body deserve the good stuff.
|Stinging nettle leaf||diuretic, tonic, nutritive (protein, calcium,|
|Blueberry||antioxidant, vitamin C, vitamin K, manganese|
|Elderflower||antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, immune boosting, |
|Lemon zest||antioxidant, vitamin C, calcium, potassium, magnesium|
Wanna know more about stinging nettle?!
Check out this post: Stinging Nettle Benefits, Uses, & More
Try These Other Recipes With Stinging Nettle
Sea Salt & Cracked Pepper Stinging Nettle Crackers
Stinging Nettle Dukkah
Creamy Stinging Nettle Soup
Hydrating Electrolyte Tea
How to Make Stinging Nettle Puree
First, you’ll need fresh stinging nettles to make the puree. You can either forage for these wild greens yourself. Oftentimes, you can also find them at farmer’s markets in the springtime.
Tips on Harvesting Wild Nettles
- Stinging nettle is best harvested in spring through the early summer, while the new growth is tender.
- When harvesting, bring gloves! And perhaps even bring a long-sleeved shirt.
- Use scissors or a pair of clippers to snip off the top 4-6″ of the plant, as this newer growth is the most vibrant and most tender part of the plant. The older parts of the plant become more fibrous as they age and aren’t the best for cooking… or the most enjoyable for eating.
- Do not harvest if the plant has already gone to seed.
Processing Your Nettle Harvest
Blanching and pureeing your fresh nettle harvest is a great way to get rid of the sting and add them into any number of dishes. (However, I don’t think that it’s always necessary to blanch stinging nettles.) Nonetheless, it is a great way to preserve them and have fresh nettles available all year long.
Once pureed, you can freeze them in small batches (or even ice cube trays) that can then be thawed out and added to soups and stews, pestos, spaghetti sauces, smoothies, quick breads, and… ahem… cake!
The best way to handle nettles in your kitchen is to either wear a pair of gloves or to use tongs.
How to Puree Fresh Stinging Nettles
- Rinse your stinging nettle harvest under cool water to get rid of any bugs and/or dirt.
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil.
- While the water is coming to a boil, prepare an ice bath in either a large mixing bowl or large pot.
- Once water is boiling, plunge the stinging nettles into the pot and boil for about 30 seconds. You may need to work in batches depending on how many fresh nettles you’re working with.
- After boiling for about 30 seconds, use your tongs to remove the nettles from the boiling water and immediately plunge them into the ice bath.
- In the ice bath, give the nettles a swirl until they are completely cool, then transfer the cooled nettles to your blender, shaking off as much water as possible. (Sometimes it’s helpful to just give them a little squeeze.) Repeat until all the nettles have gone through the ice bath.
- Use your blender to puree the blanched stinging nettles to a smooth and uniform consistency. You may need to add extra water to get them going, being careful to add only as much as is necessary. Start by adding 1 tablespoon of water at a time until the blender can take over. The puree should be pretty thick, and not at all runny.
- Store your pureed stinging nettles in the refrigerator in an air-tight container and use within 2-4 days. Or freeze in small batches and use within 3 months.
Don’t have any stinging nettles?!
Use fresh or frozen spinach in this cake recipe! No need to blanch spinach, just add to your blender (with a small bit of water if fresh) & puree to a smooth & uniform consistency.
How To Make a Vegan Stinging Nettle Cake
Equipment You’ll Need
- Two 8″ Round Cake Pans (These are my fave!)
- Flour Sifter
- Measuring Spoons & Cups
- Mixing Bowl
- Small Saucepan
- Large Serrated Knife
Here’s a quick run-down of what you can expect making this stinging nettle cake recipe. You can find the full, detailed recipe below.
- Making the Stinging Nettle Cake: This is a one-bowl kinda cake operation. You’ll sift together all the dry ingredients and then whisk in the wet ingredients. Then you’ll stir until thoroughly combined.
Divide the batter evenly into 2 prepared 8″ round cake pans and allow the batter to sit in the pans for about 8-10 minutes before baking. This allows time for the rice flour to absorb a bit of water and soften in order to help with its natural grittiness.
- Making the Blueberry Elderflower Filling: While the cakes are baking, you’ll make the filling. In a small sauce pan, you’ll combine the blueberries, fresh or frozen, with a little water. Cook down until they reach a jam-like consistency.
Just before you pull them from the heat, stir in St. Germain (or your favorite elderflower liqueur or syrup) and maple syrup.
You can choose to puree the filling in your food processor or blender, or just leave it a little chunky. Personally, I prefer it a little chunky!
- Assembling the Cake: After the cakes cool completely, you’ll use a serrated knife to gently and evenly slice off the rounded top of each cake. You want to slice off just enough so that you have a flat surface to stack the cakes on top of one another. Then fill and frost with your favorite vegan lemon buttercream! (Or try this Vegan Lemon Buttercream.)
Make edible moss!
This cake looks extra forest fairy delicious decorated in some edible moss. After you slice off the cake tops to level them, then crumble the scraps and use these crumbs to decorate your cake. They look just like moss!
You’ll Love These Other Botanical Sweets Too!
Lemon Rosemary Tart
Gingerbread Cake Donuts
Calendula & Honey Cheesecake
Chamomile Lemon Bars
Strawberry Lavender Tart
Hibiscus Banana Bread
For more plant magic & herbal wellness in your life, be sure to follow along on ➡️ Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, or Twitter, & snag my herbal 📚 eBooks Nourishing Herbal Gifts & Holiday Pies from the (Un)Bakery. 🌿 And please don’t forget to tag me in your snaps 📸 @_botanyculture_. I love to see all the plant magic you make happen!
Stinging Nettle Cake Course: DessertCuisine: Vegan, Gluten-FreeDifficulty: Medium
with Blueberry Elderflower Filling & Lemon Buttercream
(vegan & gluten-free)
Ain’t no artificial dyes in this cake! Packed with all the green goodness of stinging nettle, this one-bowl gluten-free & vegan cake is an ode to the earth and all the green things. The nettles add an ever-so-slight and pleasant flavor that pairs so incredibly well with a floral blueberry filling and a bright citrusy frosting.
- Dry Ingredients
3 cups (270g) Oat Flour*
1 cup (112g) Almond Flour (not almond meal)
1 cup (160g) White Rice Flour
4 1/2 teaspoons Baking Powder
2 1/2 teaspoons Baking Soda
1/2 teaspoon Fine Grain Sea Salt
- Wet Ingredients
1 1/4 cups Granulated Cane Sugar**
1 1/2 cups Non-Dairy Milk (I used coconut milk. Almond, soy, or oat would work well too.)
1 cup Stinging Nettle Puree (or Pureed Spinach)***
1 tablespoon Apple Cider Vinegar
2 teaspoons Vanilla Extract
1-2 tablespoons Water (if needed)
1/2 cup frozen Blueberries****
2 tablespoons Water
2 teaspoons St. Germain (or other Elderflower Liqueur or Cordial)
1 teaspoon Maple Syrup (Can sub cane sugar. Or if not vegan, honey is a good substitute.)
1 batch of your favorite Vegan Lemon Frosting Recipe
- Making the Cake:
- Preheat oven to 350F and prepare two round 8″ cake pans by either lightly oiling or lining with parchment paper.
- In a mixing bowl, sift together all dry ingredients. Whisk together to combine thoroughly.
- Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients, then add in all wet ingredients except the extra water. Whisk together until combined thoroughly.
At this point, you’ll know if you need to add extra water. It depends on how much water the nettle puree has in it. The batter should be thick, but not so thick that it doesn’t stir or pour easily. It should be gloopy, not runny. Aim for the consistency of thick pancake batter. If needed, add water 1 tablespoon at a time.
- Pour batter evenly between the two prepared cake pans and allow to rest on the countertop for 8-10 minutes before baking.
Then, place on center oven rack. Bake for 40-45 minutes.
The cake is done when the top is a light golden color and when lightly pressed, the top of the cake will spring back. You’ll also notice that the top of the cake cracks a bit.
- Let cakes cool for 10-15 minutes and then remove from pans to finish cooling entirely. (To remove the cakes from the pans, gently run a knife around the edges of the pan, then quickly flip the pans over onto a plate, cutting board, or cooling rack.)
- Making the Filling
- To make the filling, add blueberries (fresh or frozen) and 2 tablespoons of water to a small saucepan over medium-low heat. Bring to a low simmer, stirring frequently. Cook until blueberries are broken down into a thick jam. (Add more water if needed, but you do not want a runny filling.)
- Add in St. Germain and maple syrup. Stir and cook for an additional 45-60 seconds, then remove from heat.
- If you prefer a pureed filling, use a blender or food processor to puree the blueberry mixture. Otherwise, you can use a fork to help break up the blueberries and leave the filling nice & chunky.
- Let cool completely before assembling the cake.
- Assembling the cake
- Once the cakes & filling are completely cool, put the cakes on a flat surface and use a serrated knife to horizontally slice the rounded top off the cake so that you have a flat surface. (Be sure to slice as little off as possible, just enough the create a flat surface.)
- Make your favorite lemon zest frosting, then fill and frost to your liking. You can crumble and use the cake scraps in your decorating! They look just like vibrant green moss!
- Enjoy the fruits of your and the earth’s labor!
- *OAT FLOUR: While oat flour is naturally gluten-free, unless it specifically states that it’s gluten-free, it’s likely it was processed in a facility that also processes gluten-containing products. If you are particularly sensitive to gluten, be sure to get oat flour that is certified gluten-free. Alternatively, make your own. Throw gluten-free rolled oats into your blender and process to a fine powder.
- **GRANULATED CANE SUGAR: I have not tested this recipe with any other sweetener. I imagine coconut sugar would work, although you may have to add a bit more liquid to the batter.
- ***MAKING NETTLE PUREE: Stinging nettle puree is easy to make. Add blanched nettles to your blender with just enough (and not more than enough) water to get it going. Puree until uniform consistency. If you can’t get your hands on fresh stinging nettle, use fresh or frozen spinach. Your puree should be pretty thick, and not at all runny. >>For 1 cup of puree, I used about 1/2 lb. of blanched nettles or frozen spinach.
- ****BLUEBERRIES: I used frozen wild blueberries in this recipe. Wild blueberries are smaller and more flavorful in my opinion, but use what you have available to you. Fresh blueberries work just as well.
Did you make this?
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DISCLAIMER: The information given in this article is intended for educational purposes only. Always consult with your healthcare practitioner before consuming certain herbs & medicinal foods, especially if pregnant, nursing, or taking any prescription medications.
Just a note: rinsing off the nettles “to get rid of any bug” is not a nice and certainly not a vegan thing to do. A good idea would be to bring a small brush with you when you harvest to transfer any small critters you find to the rest of the nettles which you leave behind. In Europe the stinging nettle is a very important feeding plant for a variety of caterpillars, some beautiful butterflies among them, but also moths which are important for pollination and our eco system. It would be a pity to wash them down the drain.
Thank you for the interesting recipe and all the best, Anna
That works as well! You could certainly use a brush or give the plants a lil’ shake & then choose to rinse or not. It’s totally up to your preference. Ideally, you don’t bring the bugs home at all & they stay outside, alive, healthy, & doing their good work, not in your cake. 🙂 I hope you enjoyed making this cake if you tried it.
Can I use purple nettle for this cake?
😊 Thanks, Dayna
Apologies for the slow reply! I’ve never tried it with purple dead nettle (Lamium purpureum). I generally recommend spinach as a substitute, but I imagine you could do a quick blanch, puree, & substitute an equal amount of purple dead nettle for the stinging nettle. If you give it a go, please let me know. Would love love to hear how it turns out!