Taking the "sting" out of not working...

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While it is true that I primarily only work during the academic year, I am trying to pick up some odd jobs here and there. Luckily I have been able to round up a few spots working on food trucks and at festivals for the summer. With my other time, I am hoping that by blogging enough I will get people interested in what else A KIlt and a Cuppa does in addition to this - namely catering and items for delivery. To distract myself from the security of a regular pay cheque that I am used to, I have been trying to research things that are a bit different and unusual.

The past few weeks I have been concentrating on stinging nettles in the area. I was able to procure some from a few different sources. There is one local farm about 45 minutes away from here that grows and sells them. I have also purchased seeds online to start growing them for ourselves. I hope to grow them in a large enough pot so that we get enough of a harvest, but they do not take over our entire yard. 

I have looked online to see what other bloggers and culinarians are doing with stinging nettles. Soup seems to be the most common of applications. Those that lean toward more healthy and medicinal purposes tend to write about making nettle tea. There are those that also use them to make nettle beer. I wanted to do something a bit different. My curiosity piqued toward seeing if they could be applied to desserts somehow. I did not even have a thought in my head as to how one would even use them in that genre.

I stumbled upon a Lemon Nettle Cake with Lemon Buttercream on veggiedesserts.co.uk by Kate Hackworthy. Not wanting to completely lift her work from her blog, I reinvented her cake into a Lemon and Nettle Madeira Cake with Lemon Glaze and Candied Lemon Slices. 

I have to admit, I was a bit hesitant when I first set out on this journey. But, at the same time my curiosity wanted to know. The verdict? I actually enjoyed this cake. The nettles, with their herbaceous flavour notes, blended very well with the tartness of the lemon. The cake is not cloyingly sweet in trying to cover up the flavour of the nettles. The chlorophyll from the leaves tints the cake a really nice colour. Overall, I would make this again - especially for a springtome afternoon tea.

It is great when things like this turn out. It helps lift the spirits when the direction of the journey that I am on, does not always seem to be so well defined. It remindes me that I can still do this. It reminds me that there is still a passion and a curiosity in there. Most of all it reminds me, that it is all worth it.

 

 

Yield: 1 loaf

Lemon Nettle Madeira Cake with Lemon Glaze and Candied Lemon Slices

adapted from veggiedesserts.co.uk

ingredients:

  • 100g nettle leaves, picked, and void of stems
  • 200g unsalted butter, diced
  • 150g granulated sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • zest and juice of 1 lemon
  • 250g plain flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt

instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 170C/325F. Grease and flour a 9.5 X 5 loaf pan.
  2. Using rubber gloves, carefully wash the stinging nettle leaves and remove any stems. Place in a pan of lightly salted boiling water and blanch for 2 minutes. This deactivates the sting from the nettles. Drain into a colander in the sink. Shock under cold running water, drain, squeeze tightly to remove any excess water and puree in a food processor. Set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until light and coating the sides of the bowl. Add in the eggs, beating one at a time, then stir in the nettle purée, vanilla, zest and lemon juice.
  4. Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt and stir to gently combine.
  5. Spoon the mixture into the prepared loaf tin. Bake for 40 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. When done the cake should have a signature dome and crack down the length of the cake, according to Mary Berry.

Created using The Recipes Generator

Lemon Glaze

ingredients:

  • 1-1/2 Lemons, juice and zest
  • 150 g. Icing Sugar

instructions:

Mix together the lemon juice, zest and icing sugar.
Drizzle over the top of cooled cake and allow to set
 
Created using The Recipes Generator

Candied Lemon Slices

ingredients:

1 medium sized lemon
200 g. granulated sugar

instructions:

1. Slice lemon into paper thin slices. Remove any seeds that may still be attached.

2. Fill a medium-sized saucepan with water. Bring to a boil. Add lemon slices and blanch for 1 minute. Drain and lay out on a sheet pan to cool completely in the refrigerator.

3. Bring 235 ml of water and the 200g of sugar to a boil in a medium-sized sauté pan.  When sugar has dissolved and water is bubbling, reduce heat to a simmer. 

4. Add lemon slices to water/sugar mixture. Simmer for 1 hour until the zest on the slices is translucent.

5. Transfer to a parchment lined sheet pan. Allow slices to dry until cool but still a bit sticky. If using on Lemon Nettle Madeira Cake, arrange in a shingled row down the centre of the cake.
Created using The Recipes Generator