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wild ideas

nettle and lemon cake

Nettles aren't just a weed to avoid for fear of being stung, they're also edible! They are an excellent blood purifier and extremely high in vitamin C. They are traditionally eaten in early spring as they are one of the first edible green shoots to grow after winter.


One of the more common ways to eat them is in a herbal tea, but we've decided to make something a bit more of a treat and bake them into a zesty nettle and lemon cake.

warning: never eat raw nettles! they will sting!



For the Nettle and Lemon Cake:

  • 100g packed raw young nettle leaves (use the top 4-6 leaves)

  • 200g butter at room temperature

  • 150g granulated sugar

  • 3 large eggs

  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

  • zest and juice of ½ lemon

  • 250g plain flour

  • 2 teaspoons baking powder

  • ½ teaspoon salt

For the Lemon Buttercream:

  • 150g butter at room temperature

  • 300g powdered icing sugar

  • Zest and juice of ½ a lemon


To finish:

  • blackberries (optional)

  • lemon zest (optional)


you will need:

  • Two 7" round cake tins

  • Rubber gloves


- 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.

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For the nettle cake:

- Heat an oven to 170°C.

- Grease and line two 7” 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. Refresh 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.


To assemble:

- 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.

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