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Nettle Cake: An Ode To Moss Gazing

 
Posts: 7051
Location: Arkansas Ozarks zone 7 alluvial,black,deep loam/clay with few rocks, wonderful creek bottom!
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beautiful cake! and very interesting artist and writer...  'the wondersmith' https://www.thewondersmith.com/


This cake is representative of a Pacific Northwest take on the Japanese tradition of “Hanami,” tree-blossom observing. Instead of reminding us of the frailty of life through ethereal blossoms, moss reminds us of the constancy of life through ancient plants. Mosses have been here far longer than humans have existed, and some of their patches can be hundreds of years old.  



Stinging Nettle Moss Cake:

A stunningly-magical cake that is also really easy, full of nutrition, and tastes wonderful? This nettle moss cake is the best of all worlds. This cake is a vibrant green without the use of any food coloring and is incredibly easy to decorate. Don’t let the stinging nettles intimidate you; they grow plentifully in the springtime and are completely safe (and very nutritious) to consume once the’ve been cooked. A fresh citrus flavor makes this cake extra scrumptious.

Ingredients:

1 1/2 c. shortening or unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 1/2 c. sugar

6 eggs

2 tsp. vanilla

4 Tbs. lemon juice

zest of two lemons

2 c. nettle puree (or spinach puree) - see below

4 c. flour

4 tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. salt

Directions:
1.Preheat your oven to 325F and prepare 2 (9”) cake pans and 1 smaller pan (any shape) by lightly greasing and dusting with flour. Cut out a circle of parchment paper to fit the bottom and grease it as well.
2.In a large bowl, cream the shortening and the sugar. Add the eggs, one at a time, until they are well combined. Add the vanilla, lemon juice, and lemon zest and mix well. Add the nettle puree.
3.In another bowl, sift the flour, baking powder, and salt. Mix well, then mix into the nettle mixture.
4.Pour into baking pans and bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, or about 25 minutes.

Douglas Fir Grapefruit Buttercream:

This is an optional flavor, as a simple lemon buttercream would also taste wonderful. I just like to make use of another sprin

Ingredients:

1 c. shortening or butter, at room temperature

1/4 tsp. salt (if using unsalted butter or shortening)

1 Tbs. ground fresh Douglas Fir needles

1 1/2 Tbs. grapefruit juice

4-5 cups powdered sugar (1 lb.)

Directions:
1.Cream the shortening, salt, and fir needles until smooth and creamy. Add 4 cups powdered sugar and mix at low speed until incorporated to make a stiff dough.
2.Add the grapefruit juice and mix until smooth. Assess the consistency and add more powdered sugar or grapefruit juice as desired.
3.To ice and decorate the cake, first allow it to cool completely. With a long bread knife, trim the tops of the cake so that they are flat. Place one cake onto a serving plate and place strips of waxed paper around the cake for easier clean up later.
4.Spread a layer of frosting over the top of the cake, then carefully set the other cake on top. At this point it can be helpful to place the cake in the fridge for an hour or so for it to firm up. Meanwhile, crumble the scraps from the tops of the cake and the smaller extra cake into coarse crumbs using your hands or a food processor.
5.Spread the rest of the frosting over the entire cake and press the crumbs into the surface to look like moss. Remove the strips of waxed paper and serve!

Notes:

1. To make stinging nettle puree, pick off all of the leaves (wear gloves!), then boil them for a couple of minutes. Strain and immediately plunge into an ice bath to cool. Puree the cooked leaves into a smooth paste in your blender - you may need to add 1 Tbs. of water to get them to grind properly. To make a spinach puree, just blend raw baby spinach leaves in the blender with enough water to get them to form a smooth puree.

2. Make sure to note the lower baking temperature of this cake. Baking it at a lower temperature for longer helps it retain the fresh green color.

3. If you are unable to forage or purchase stinging nettle, spinach works just as well! And don’t worry about your cake tasting like salad - the green veggies add a very subtle flavor that is accented nicely by the bright citrus. You’ll barely notice them.

As always, if you enjoy my writing and want to support my mission of sharing everyday magic with strangers, please take a look at my Patreon Page to learn about all of the delightful offerings I have there for you!

 
steward
Posts: 5990
Location: Missoula, MT
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Judith, I think I'm in love.

Now I need to go look for the spring fresh growth fir needle tips today. We have loads of fir trees and I've gathered and dried the tips before for tea.

We've tried to sow nettles around here (base camp and the lab) but so many places here dry out quite thoroughly in the summer so they haven't taken yet.

This is a perfect Easter cake IMHO.

 
Judith Browning
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Location: Arkansas Ozarks zone 7 alluvial,black,deep loam/clay with few rocks, wonderful creek bottom!
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When I first saw it, I thought, 'I didn't know moss was edible' ?  

Had to read the recipe to understand that it was some of the cake itself crumbled into the butter cream icing...

I keep trying to grow nettle from seed because I can't find the patches of it I know are around here. I have one survivor in a pot.  

Once when we first moved here I had waded the river and was cutting across a field in the summer time so lots of bare skin...I ended up in a more than head high field of it.  No choice but to persevere and there was no doubt what it was by the stinging.  

Back then I had no idea it was edible...I feel like I missed out on such healthy greens when we could have really used the nutrition.

 
gardener
Posts: 1116
Location: Pacific Wet Coast
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Cool recipe. I'll have to check my nettle patch.
I've heard that nettles like to grow where there is chicken manure, so one of our patches is west of our chicken run that gets occasional use when we need the brooder. I directed some water off the brooder roof to that area, so that may be why they survive. There's heavy shade there which the nettle seems to tolerate, and huge cedar trees (who says nothing grows under cedar?)
 
gardener
Posts: 813
Location: Galicia, Spain zone 9a
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As soon as I have a kitchen.......
 
Mandy Launchbury-Rainey
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Judith Browning wrote:

I keep trying to grow nettle from seed because I can't find the patches of it I know are around here. I have one survivor in a pot.  



Judith - feel free to come to our finca at any time - bring a trailer.......
 
Posts: 45
Location: Ontario, Canada
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Congratulations on such on such a beautiful cake!  I love nettles!  I love dandelions and Ramps. I love spring!  We’ve waited sooooooo long.  
 
Jocelyn Campbell
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Oh my, another nettle cake version! This one I found from a post by dear Kristen Bowen of Living the Good Life Naturally.

North Wild Kitchen's Nettle Cake (Brenneslekake)



Not as gloriously bright green perhaps, though it looks lovely in its own right.

 
Jay Angler
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Nice recipe Jocelyn. I didn't think I could sneak the bright green one into the boys, but in this one the nettle is disguised enough that I'm prepared to try!  I can't do the frosting, but I've also got a jar of home-made blackberry glaze on the counter and spooning a little of that over each piece might work for me. I'll report back, although it might take a couple of days!
 
Jay Angler
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First some disclaimers: I consider recipes a "guide" and therefore, I'm *really* lousy at following them word for word! Secondly, vague things like "two large handfuls" are difficult. Washed and squished into a glass measuring cup, the nettle came to ~2 1/2 cups. Yes, weighing would have been more accurate, but my spouse swiped my kitchen scale. Cooked and blended, it was ~1/2 cup.
Third, my blood sugar tends drop low easily, so I always substitute whole wheat for 50% or more of the flour which is what I did this time - if a recipe doesn't work because of it, too bad, as I probably couldn't eat it anyway!
Fourth, loaf pans are easier for me to cover, so loaf pans are what I used. This means it took a longer to cook - more like 45 min.
Nettle-Cake.JPG
[Thumbnail for Nettle-Cake.JPG]
Both boys ate it *and* said I could make it again. They didn't feel it needed the blackberry sauce, but was fine on its own. I liked it both with and without.
 
Jocelyn Campbell
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Jay, I LOVE that you made this already, and snapped a photo and posted about it here - so cool!!

Jay Angler wrote:First some disclaimers: I consider recipes a "guide" and therefore, I'm *really* lousy at following them word for word! Secondly, vague things like "two large handfuls" are difficult. Washed and squished into a glass measuring cup, the nettle came to ~2 1/2 cups. Yes, weighing would have been more accurate, but my spouse swiped my kitchen scale. Cooked and blended, it was ~1/2 cup.
Third, my blood sugar tends drop low easily, so I always substitute whole wheat for 50% or more of the flour which is what I did this time - if a recipe doesn't work because of it, too bad, as I probably couldn't eat it anyway!
Fourth, loaf pans are easier for me to cover, so loaf pans are what I used. This means it took a longer to cook - more like 45 min.


Not only did you do that, but you provided amazing tips for the measurements of the nettles plus for your other alternatives. Thank you!

I'm with you when it comes to vague measurements. One that has been getting to me lately is the "zest of one lemon" or "juice of half a lemon." I'm sorry, but lemons vary a LOT in their size! I much prefer if it's a measurement such as teaspoons, tablespoons, or cups instead.

That said, I'm always substituting a gluten-free or grain-free flour, and often sub in alternatives to cane sugar, so my recipes are pretty off-book myself. Though having a proper measure to go by certainly helps!

Very awesome that the boys enjoyed a nettle cake!!

 
Jay Angler
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Jocelyn Campbell wrote:

Very awesome that the boys enjoyed a nettle cake!!

It really is - I've tried sneaking it into soup before and got negative responses, and neither of them are keen on pesto of any kind, let alone the nettle variety. The nettle is starting to bloom, so I'm not sure I can do another picking, but I think tomorrow morning I should try.
Thank you for finding and posting the recipe and for the kind words!
 
Jay Angler
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I thought I would take a quick picture of the nettle patch in question today and share it with you all. It has huge cedar trees immediately to the west and north, so some things can grow perfectly happily under cedar!
2019-Nettle-patch.JPG
[Thumbnail for 2019-Nettle-patch.JPG]
You can see the trunks of cedar trees if you look carefully. The frame is the brooder run - I read somewhere that nettles like chicken poop.
 
Cob is sand, clay and sometimes straw. This tiny ad is made of cob:
Dave Burton's Boot Adventures at Wheaton Labs and Basecamp
https://permies.com/t/119676/permaculture-projects/Dave-Burton-Boot-Adventures-Wheaton
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