A Stinging Nettle Cake! Don't worry, boiling the nettles gets rid of the sting. This naturally green layer cake is easy to make and tastes just like a lemon cake! Nobody will guess there are nettles in it.
Everyone will be shocked when you tell them the cake is full (and I mean FULL) of stinging nettles. But it tastes just like a regular lemon cake.
The flavor of the nettles completely fades away, leaving behind that incredible green color!
I know what you're thinking: 'ouch'.
But trust me, just put on some rubber gloves and go foraging in the hedges for nettles to make a cake.
Or, pick up a few bunches at your local farmer's market. Because this cake needs nettles!
I've long loved developing creative cake recipes with unusual ingredients (hello, Kale Cake).
So I thought I'd take my naturally green cake obsession a little further and try it with stinging nettles.
And it works!
This recipe was originally published April 14 2014. Republished with improved text and some photos April 26 2021.
⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ "I've made this cake several times now - it's absolutely wonderful! Would highly recommend anyone to make it!" - Esme
⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ "I've made it yesterday and it tastes absolutely lovely. The nettle gave it a natural green colour that looks attractive. " - Dan
Why You'll Love this Recipe
An unusual cake recipe.
A way to use up foraged stinging nettles,.
It's a quick and easy cake recipe.
Stinging Nettle Cake is naturally bright green.
You can't taste the nettles, the flavor of them fades so it tastes like a lemon cake!
It's probably the most quirky cake you'll ever make!
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 sell it, and it, well, stings, many haven't tried it.
Funny that, as the stuff really gets about. In the spring, stinging nettles are everywhere. Even, for me at least, in nettle cake!
And you'll love it. The lemony cake flavor is very spring-like as the flavour of the nettles fades away beneath the zesty lemon in this nettle cake.
Foraging for Stining Nettles
If you can't find bags of nettles at your farmer's market, then you can forage for your own in the wild!
I'm sure you know where to find nettles, as you only need to look around neighbourhoods, gardens, forests and verges in the spring. It's everywhere!
Obviously though, you'll want to stay away from major roads to avoid pollution on your nettles.
Nettle is best in the early spring so hurry and get foraging, choosing the top four to six leaves (they're more tender).
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.
How to stop stinging nettles stinging
Okay, so you don't want to add raw nettles to a salad. That would hurt your mouth and sting your lips.
But it's actually easy to stop nettles from stinging. You just need to boil them for a few minutes or else pulverize them in a blender.
Boiling the nettles gets rid of the sting, so don't worry that this nettle cake will sting. It absolutely won't.
Often you can find nettles at farmer's markets to save you foraging your own.
If you forage your nettles, choose the top 4 sets of leaves (they're more tender), and be sure to use rubber gloves. Forage away from busy paths, roads, and sources of pollution.
If you're struggling to puree the nettles, add the lemon juice at that stage. A stick immersion blender or standard blender works well for pureeing.
Ensure the nettles are pureed completely for the best solid green color. If you can't puree it fully the cake will still be delicious, but the color will be more flecks of green than solid green.
I topped the cake with blackberries, but you could top it with any fruit, or just leave it with the simple lemon frosting. Zingy and delicious.
More Unusual Cake Recipes
Looking for more unusual cake recipes? Try these!
Did you make this stinging nettle recipe? Please let me know how it turned out for you!
Leave a comment and star rating below and share a picture with the hashtag #veggiedesserts. I love seeing your recreations of my vegetarian and vegan recipes.
Lemon Stinging Nettle Cake
For the Nettle and Lemon Cake:
- 2 cups (100g) packed raw young nettle leaves (use the top 4-6 leaves)
- ¾ cup (200g) butter at room temperature
- ¾ cup (150g) granulated sugar
- 3 large eggs
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- zest and juice of ½ lemon
- 2 cups (250g) all-purpose (plain) flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
For the Lemon Buttercream:
- ⅔ cup (150g) butter at room temperature
- 2 ½ cups (300g) powdered icing sugar
- Zest and juice of ½ a lemon
- blackberries optional
- lemon zest optional
For the Nettle Cake:
- Preheat oven to 325°F / 170°C. Grease and line two 7” (18cm) 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. Rinse under cold water, drain and puree with a stick blender (note: if you're struggling to puree it, add the lemon juice at this stage). 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 pureed 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.
For the Lemon Frosting:
- 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.
- Often you can find nettles at farmer's markets to save you foraging your own.
- If you forage your nettles, choose the top 4 sets of leaves (they're more tender) and be sure to use rubber gloves. Forage away from busy paths, roads and sources of pollution.
- If you're struggling to puree the nettles, add the lemon juice at that stage. A stick immersion blender or standard blender work well for pureeing.
- Ensure the nettles are pureed completely for the best solid green colour. If you can't puree it fully the cake will still be delicious, but the colour will be more flecks of green than solid green.
- I topped the cake with blackberries, but you could top it with any fruit, or just leave it with the simple lemon frosting. Zingy and delicious.
The nutritional information provided is approximate and can vary depending on several factors, so is not guaranteed to be accurate. Please see a registered dietician for special diet advice.