top of page

Nettle and 'Honey' Cake

Commonly flavoured with honey, Nettle cake is sweet and delicious, and wonderfully green all the way through. This recipe uses Dandelion 'honey' syrup as an alternative to add a sticky wild sweetness.

Nettles are one of Nature's underrated super foods, they have around 4x the amount of calcium than cultivated vegetables like broccoli and spinach, and yet, like Dandelions, we spend so much time trying to eradicate them from our gardens and green spaces. They aren't the friendliest looking plant, so it's not difficult to understand why, but they are such incredibly versatile plants that we should really be looking to use them as much as we can in the kitchen, instead of just throwing them on the compost heap.

A close up of nettles

Nettle cake might sound like an odd combination, and I have no doubt that it won't be the first thing you think of when it comes to eating Nettles, but it just seems to work. The Nettle sting, which is cause by the tiny hollow hairs which cover the plant, are neutralised when the plant is cooked or dried, so there is no need to worry about this cake causing any irritation. The Nettle leaves need to be blanched in hot water for a few minutes before being added to the cake mix, making them safe to eat.

Whenever I make this cake for my family, it always goes down well and my kids are usually the first in line for a second helping. I try to get them involved with foraging as much as time allows, to teach them about nature and the plants that we can eat (and the ones we don't!), and for some reason, they always seem more excited to help when cake is promised as the end result! Nettles especially seem to have an air of excitement too them, I spend so much energy telling them to mind the Nettles on their bare legs and hands when we're walking through the woods, so they don't get stung, and then all that changes when we're out gathering them to eat.

a child foraging for nettle leaves

Commonly flavoured with honey, Nettle cake is sweet and delicious, and wonderfully green all the way through. For this plant-based-recipe, I use Dandelion 'honey' syrup as a wild alternative, but you can use honey, or vegetable oil with 50g of extra sugar if that's what you have to hand. If haven't made Dandelion syrup before, then please you can find the method I use to make all of my flower syrups here.

One of my favourite things about making Nettle cake is picking a few edible Spring flowers to decorate the top. I try and use a different combination each time, but the first cake of the season is reserved for crystalised Primroses, a real treat from the woods and well worth taking the time to do. You can use any edible flowers, in the past I have used Dandelion and Daisy petals, Forget-Me-Nots, Violets and Pansies, and Cherry blossom petals too.

Vegan Nettle cake decorated with edible wild flowers

Although Nettles can be found all year round, Spring is the best season to making use of their fresh, new growth. Once the plants have begun to flower and go to seed, you should avoid gathering the leaves from them if possible. This is usually between May and September. Once the plants have begun to flower they contain cystolith crystals which can cause internal irritation. The general rule is to only eat Nettles during months which have an 'R' in them - a fun and easy way to remember! And I would always advise wearing thick gloves when gathering nettles, just to avoid any unnecessary skin irritation.

slices of vegan nettle cake decorated with edible wild flowers


Nettle and 'Honey' Cake

Two very generous handfuls of nettles

300g self-raising flour

1tbsp baking soda

100g block butter

100g sugar

230ml milk of your own choosing, I tend to use oat milk but use whatever you have on hand.

150g dandelion honey or equivalent.

1tbsp apple cider vinegar

The zest of one lemon and the juice of one half

  1. Preheat the oven to 180℃ and prepare a square 8 inch cake tin by either lining with grease proof paper or by greasing the bottom and sides with butter.

  2. To neutralise the nettle sting, blanch the leaves in boiling water for around five minutes. Strain out the leaves and give them a generous squeeze to remove as much water as possible.

  3. Add the milk and the blanched nettle leaves to a food processor and blend until smooth.

  4. In a large bowl cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy.

  5. Add a little bit of flour to the bowl and mix. Alternate with the nettle leaf mixture, mixing lightly until they have evenly blended together to create a thick batter.

  6. Add the vinegar and dandelion honey and mix to incorporate, followed by the lemon juice and zest.

  7. Carefully pour the batter into a prepared cake tin and bake for around 1 hour 15 minutes until golden brown. Insert a toothpick into the centre of the cake to make sure it is baked all the way through. Once baked, remove from the tin and leave to cool on a cooling rack.

  8. As an added extra you could use a little dandelion honey and icing sugar to make a delicious glaze for the top and try adding edible flowers, using whatever you have to hand. I’d recommend trying violets or pansies, primroses and dandelions.

vegan nettle and honey cake



The Cramlington Forager

Here I share my own recipes which I use to make the most of seasonal wild food. You'll find handy foraging guides and plant profiles to help get to know the plants which grow all around us, and to start you down your own foraging journey.


bottom of page