Indulgent Nettle Cake


Indulgent Nettle Layered Cake

I am so happy with this cake. It was created during the Covid-19 isolation, which has become a time for me when I finally got around to trying to make all sorts of edibles that I’ve had on my mind for years. This cake definitely worked out better than the sourdough loaf that I’m still trying to understand. I knew I just wanted something green, and ideally something that represented the natural environment outside that was local to me, using seasonal ingredients. It’s plant based, and uses nettles to provide the pleasing green colour without any weird taste. It definitely still tastes like cake. It's super easy and really moist, and I layered this up with primrose curd and pine needle frosting, and sprinkled with some edible wild flowers. If you use this recipe, I'd love to see your take on it so drop me a message on my FB or in the comments below.
Prep Time1 d
Cook Time30 mins
Course: Breakfast, Drinks
Keyword: cake, edible flower, flower, foraged food, frosting, nettle, pine needle, plant based, vegan, wild edible, wild foraging
Servings: 2
Author: Angie Nash


  • oven
  • cake tin (this recipe was enough for two layers cooked in a small 4" diameter heart tin (it was all had).
  • blender for blitzing the nettle and oat milk


  • 20 young nettle leaves
  • 1 and a 1/4 cup all plain flour
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup oat milk
  • 3/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 tbsp apple cider vinegar

Pine Needle Frosting:

  • 1 cup icing sugar
  • 1 good handful clean pine needles
  • 1 tbsp If you prefer a stronger taste, then you might prefer to use my pine needle syrup recipe instead for a stronger citrusy taste
  • 1/4 cup vegan butter

Primrose curd:

  • 3 tbsp please see recipe here


  • Start by adding the clean pine or spruce needles to the icing sugar and leave in a jar for 24 hours to allow the flavour to infuse. You might prefer more flavour so use my spruce needle syrup or cordial recipe instead and add a tablespoon to the icing sugar when you make the frosting.
  • Preheat the oven to 180C (350F).
  • Blanch the nettle leaves in hot water for a few minutes. Strain and add the leaves to the oat milk, blitz in a blender and set aside.
  • Add the flour, sugar, baking soda to a mixing bowl and mix through. Then add the nettle/ oat milk mixture, the oil and the vinegar and using a wooden spoon, stir through. I found the cake to be a bit too moist and I'm still playing with the recipe so you might want to add a little less oil, milk or squeeze out some of the excess from the nettles but I like to leave the nettles a bit squishy as it is them that provides the colour.
  • Line cake tins with parchment paper or lightly grease and divide the mixture in two. Bake on the middle shelf for approximately 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the centre comes out clean.
  • Remove from oven and leave to cool on a cooling rack until completely cooled before adding the frosting. If you add the frosting whilst the cake is still warm, the frosting will just melt.

Pine Needle Frosting:

  • Sieve the icing sugar into a bowl, removing and discarding the pine needles. (You could wash and reuse the pine needles to make a pine needle coil basket).
  • Add the softened butter and whisk until smooth, light and fluffy.

Constructing the cake:

  • Lay one, fully cooled cake layer on a plate. Add three tablespoons of the primrose curd. You might want to make the curd a bit thicker than what you'd normally have on toast as you don't want it sliding out of the cake when you add the next layer. Spoon or pipe half the frosting onto the curd and gently place the next layer of cake on top. Spoon or pipe the remainder of the frosting onto the top of the cake. Add edible flowers and leaves, for e.g. violets, gorse flowers and primroses.
  • Serve up to your friends and relish the ooos and aaahs.


A Bowl Full of Sunshine

Dandelions, Taraxacum officinale, are one of the first flowers we see in the spring and also one of the first for emerging insects such as honey bees. I try to leave the first flush of flowers to the insects but after that, dandelions are one of the flowers that can benefit from its habitat being regularly mown or harvested to prolong its lifecycle.

All parts of this plant can be eaten although some are an acquired taste! The bitter raw leaves can be added to salads and are a great source of vitamins (specifically A,C and K) and minerals (iron, calcium, magnesium and potassium). The roots can be chopped up fine, roasted and turned into a coffee substitute and the flowers can be used in a number of applications including wine, marmalade, and if you don’t know what else to do with an edible flower, fritter it.

I’ve never been keen on marmalade but I don’t know if that’s because I’ve actually tasted it and disliked it or if it’s just one of those fussy eating habits you get as a kid that you associate with ‘old’ people. This dandelion marmalade was a revelation to me though and I couldn’t stop eating it and I feel very decadent eating it on sour dough toast, don’t you know. It’s probably because I’m now old. I’ve also used it in a Champagne Cocktail instead of the sugar lump and using Dandelion ‘champagne’ (recipe below).


Dandelion Marmalade Recipe:

500g apples roughly chopped. It is these that contain the pectin that help your marmalade to set so you can use the core and peel too as these will be strained out later.

100ml citrus juice (e.g. lemon, orange, lime or grapefruit) and the rind. If you’re not using fresh fruit and therefore no rind, then add another 500g of apples.

100g dandelion petals (2 x 50g)

500g granulated or jam sugar

500ml water


Place the apples and fruit rind (not the juice) in a pan with the water and half of the dandelion petals and bring to the boil. Remove from the heat, cover and allow to infuse overnight.

The next morning, strain the liquid to remove the petals and chunks of apple and return to the pan. Add the citrus juice and sugar and heat slowly to dissolve all of the sugar. Once the sugar is dissolved, add the remaining dandelion petals and then boil until you reach setting point. It is a boiling liquid at this stage so you will not be able to visually see how thick the cooled marmalade will be so it can be gauged by using a sugar thermometer or you can place a small amount on a saucepan and place in the freezer for fifteen minutes. If it comes out set then you know it has worked. If it is too runny then you need to boil it some more, if it’s too solid then add more water.


Dandelion Champagne

500g of dandelion flowers
250g sugar
2 litres of water
2 lemon sliced


You may have already seen the elder flower champagne recipe posted here before and the process is very similar.

Gather your flower heads and leave on a board for an hour to give the insects a chance to wander off on their own accord.

Ensure all equipment is sterilised by swishing in boiling water. I’ve never made this in as large as quantities as I do elder flower champagne so one very large saucepan might be big enough or alternatively, it’s worth investing in a fermenting bucket as it’ll get used later in the spring for elder flowers.

Add 1 litre of boiling water to the pan/bucket and add your sugar, stirring until it fully dissolved. Add a further litre of cold water to bring the temperature down as you are relying on the natural yeasts occurring on the flowers to feed on the sugar and ferment your concoction and you don’t want to kill them by boiling them alive.

Once the water is luke warm, add your flower heads and sliced lemons giving the lemons a bit of a squeeze to release the juice.

Cover the bucket with muslin cloth and leave at room temperature for three days to allow the fermentation process to begin. If you place in the fridge it will slow down and even halt the fermentation so don’t do this unless you know you’re going away suddenly and you don’t want your ferment to spoil.
After three days, use a funnel and the muslin cloth to sieve off the liquid into sterilised bottles. I prefer using glass flip top bottles as this allows me to release the build up of fermentation gas every couple of days easily during the first week of bottling and prevents the bottles exploding. I don’t generally get as much fizz with dandelions as I do with elder flower but each harvest will be different and different geographical areas might naturally get more yeast on the flowers.

Store in a cool dark place. I honestly don’t know how long this will last as like I mentioned, I’ve never made huge batches of it and it gets drunk during my spring walks, but I’ve used elder flower champagne a couple of years later without issue and I don’t see why this would be different. If you know of a reason then be a pal and add a comment as to why.

Oh, and the Champagne Cocktail I mentioned. So, it’s not strictly the classic champagne cocktail which has a sugar cube that dissolves in the glass releasing bubbles but it’s pretty close and as you’re using wild ingredients it has its own ‘wow’ factor. Or for some people a ‘oh my god, what the F is that?!’ factor.

Place the dandelion marmalade (or sugar cube) at the bottom of a champagne flute
Add 2-3 dashes of Angostura Bitters
Add one measure of brandy
Top up with dandelion champagne
Traditionally served with an orange slice or maraschino cherry but when you’re living in a tipi you make do with what’s around you….a pennywort leaf.

Dandelion Marmalade


Dandelion Marmalade

If you’re looking for precise, fancy recipes then you’re in the wrong place. Mine are very much, “let’s see what happens when you throw this, a bit of that and a whole lotta love into it”. I do try and make them easy to follow though and affordable and with the least amount of equipment as I just don’t have any. Years of being nomadic has meant that I just don’t have the space (or money) to store things although I really, really want one of those colourful food processors you see on GBBO!! This marmalade is so easy to make and I've used it on my sour dough crumpets, in dandelion champagne cocktails, and as a layer through cakes and biscuits.
Prep Time0 mins
Cook Time30 mins
Course: Breakfast, Dessert, Drinks, Snack
Keyword: edible flower, flower, marmalade, preserves, wild edible, wild foraging
Servings: 3 jars
Author: Angie Nash
Cost: £1.30p


  • Saucepan
  • Chopping board and knife
  • Muslin cloth or bag


  • 50 dandelion flowers (divided into two portions) petals only, remove green sepals and leaves removed
  • 3 medium size oranges
  • 1 lemon
  • 750g jam sugar
  • 1 apple remove pips
  • 1 pint water


  • So, as mentioned in previous posts, much of my cooking is done without weighing scales (I don’t have any) and without any specialised equipment. There’s a lot of tasting and trial and error and some dumb luck that goes into it, but that’s part of the fun of cooking.
  • Chop the oranges and lemon in quarters and add to the pan along with approximately 1 pint of water or just enough to cover the fruit depending on the size of your pan. Bring to the boil and then leave to simmer for about an hour on a low heat.
  • The skin of the fruit should now be really soft. Remove from the liquid with a slotted spoon if you have one and allow the fruit to cool enough to handle. Scoop out all of the flesh and place this in some muslin along with the chopped apple. Gather into a parcel and tie at the top (with natural fibre string) so the contents don't leak out or use a muslin bag if you have one. Place this back into the pan of liquid.
  • Chop the peel into as fine a shred as you like to eat. I prefer to make it as thin as I can. You probably won’t want to add all of the peel back into the pan so start with half...remember the volume of marmalade will significantly reduce as it thickens up. If you don’t want any peel at all in your final product then don’t add it to the pan but do add the lemon peel to the muslin bag as the lemon provides the pectin that you need to help thicken the marmalade.
  • Add in half of the dandelion petals and all of the sugar and stir over a low heat until the sugar has dissolved.
  • Bring the marmalade to a rolling boil for about 10- 15 minutes, skimming off any orange scum that rises to the surface.
  • If you have a jam thermometer you can use it now to test whether your marmalade has set, if not, many people will try the trick of placing a plate in the freezer before cooking and at this stage dripping a small amount onto the cold plate. Leave for 10 seconds and then push your finger through the marmalade. If it wrinkles it’s ready. If not, continue to boil, repeating this step until it’s reached the setting point. I first made this when I didn’t have a freezer and so it was very much a trial and error of letting it fully cool and then re-boiling if it wasn’t thick enough. It will thicken considerably as it cools.
  • Once you’re happy with the consistency, then taste it. If it’s not sweet enough, add more sugar until you’re happy with it.
  • Remove the muslin bag full of the pulp and by this point you would have noticed that the dandelion petals have probably pretty much disappeared. This is why you saved half the petals back so that you can stir them in now so that your final product looks pretty!
  • Pour into a clean, sterilised* heat proof jar. Once opened, keep in the fridge.


Primrose curd

Primrose Curd

This has fast become one of my favourite recipes; partly because I love working with flowers in my food, partly because it’s so quick and easy to make with ingredients you probably already have but mostly because it just makes me feel pretty darn posh every time I eat it. I’ve used it with granola and yoghurt in breakfast bowls, on top of freshly baked sourdough bread and I’ve also used in it my spring nettle cake layered with pine needle frosting. You could eat it with crepes, over ice cream and I plan to make all sorts of indulgent goodies this summer with it. Once I run out, it’s not a problem as this recipe will work just as well with other edible flowers and I’m looking forward to trying it with rose petals and elderflowers.
Prep Time1 d
Cook Time3 mins
Course: Breakfast, Dessert, Snack
Keyword: curd, edible flower, flower, plant based, primrose, vegan, wild edible, wild foraging
Servings: 1 Jar
Author: Angie Nash
Cost: 30p


  • Saucepan


  • 25 approximately primrose flower heads the total number of flowers/ petals will change according to the species you're using. Make sure you have 100% identified it accurately and only take what you need if they are in abundance
  • 300 grams caster sugar
  • 2 tbsp cornstarch
  • 300 ml oat milk any non dairy milk will work, i just prefer the taste milder taste of oat milk and I 'think' it has less negative environmental consequences


  • Just so you know, I don’t have any kitchen scales yet so the majority of my recipes are made using ratios or cups (or jam jars) as a measurement. The American measurement system uses ‘cups’ but I honestly don’t know whether the trusty pink cup I use is the same volume as you’d find in an American ‘cup’, but really it doesn’t matter. If I say one cup of something and half a cup of something else, it’s easy to just relate that to whatever cups you have in your cupboard (or do a conversion using the American measurement to grams). Sounds confusing, I know, but trust me this recipe is soooo easy that you’ll be able to adapt it to whatever measurements you use. So, are you ready?
  • I began by collecting approximately 20 primrose flowers (from a woodland location that I know has them in abundance. Like any wild foraged plant, please only take what you need and only if there is enough to have no obvious impact). These were placed in a jam jar and then I filled up the jar with caster sugar and left in a warm sunny spot for four days. 24 hours is probably enough but I’m super forgetful!
  • Once you remember that jar of sugar and flowers that you left, empty the sugar into a small pan with or without the flowers (you can’t really see them in the curd so I leave them in). Add one and a half tablespoons of cornstarch and use the same jam jar to measure out the equivalent of non dairy milk (I used oat milk. I haven’t tried with other types, for e.g. soy which might have a stronger flavour so you might need to experiment). Heat gently over a medium heat until it starts to thicken, approximately five minutes. And that’s it! Simple.
  • Remember, it will thicken even more as it cools so I’d err on the side of caution and not heat it for longer than five minutes. Once it’s cooled, if it’s not thick enough for you then you can always heat it again until you’ve reduced it to the thickness you want.
  • At this point, taste it. If the taste is too mild for your liking then, it’s really easy to turn this into a lemon curd instead. Just add the grated zest of one lemon (it will make your curd go a pleasing yellow colour) and if it’s still not tasty enough for you, go ahead and add the juice too until you get the taste you’re looking for.
  • Pour into a clean, sterilised* heat proof jar. Once cooled, place in the fridge and provided you don’t eat it before then, it’ll last for about a week. Let me know how you get on and I’d love to hear and see some of the creations you make with it. It would also make a lovely gift.
  • * to sterilise jars, clean them thoroughly with hot soapy water, rinse and remove any rubber or plastic parts. Place upside down in an oven at 140C/275F/Gas mark 1 until hey are dry. Pour hot curd into the hot jars. Don't pour hot cold into cold jars as it may crack. Once cooled, the curd can be placed in the fridge.







Grey seals in Cornwall taste freedom again…..

Grey seal…..first reports back suggest it tasted salty.

During the winter months, British Divers Marine Life Rescue (BDMLR) are busy answering calls from the public informing them of young Grey seals, Halichoerus grypus, injured and stranded, many from the increasing swell we are seeing during the last few years winter storms. In a carefully coordinated effort, volunteers from BDMLR and the Cornwall Seal Sanctuary, Gweek, Cornwall, UK work together to rescue these animals, often requiring scaling perilous cliff faces to reach them. The seals are treated and rehabilitated at Gweek until they are well enough to be released again, where they are flipper tagged to help monitor them in the future, and released back into the oceans from whence they came.

On a morning in late May, I was lucky enough to be invited down (as a member of the Cornwall seal group), to watch these young seals get their first taste of freedom since their rescue. Some charged full tilt to the ocean, whilst others were definitely more hesitant and needed a bit of persistent encouragement. One by one they finally all made it into the open water where hopefully that’ll be the last we see of them. The following video was taken during that release, Grey seal release video

Grey seals are one of the rarest seals in the world, and in the UK we are lucky enough to have 40% of that population right on our doorstep. We have both Common and Grey seals as residents on our coast  but in Cornwall we are most likely to see the larger Grey seal, with their sweet dog like faces, along our rocky shores.

If you come across any seals along the coast of Britain, that appear to be injured (some have clear ‘ringing’ injuries from fishing nets and marine litter), then please contact BDMLR on;

Working hours – weekdays.
If you wish to report an marine animal that you are concerned about or have a general enquiry about BDMLR, please call 01825 765546 during office hours 9am-5pm Monday to Friday.
Any messages left on the answerphone will not be checked until the morning of the next working day.

Outside office hours, weekends and bank holidays.
Outside normal office hours and over weekends and bank holidays, we operate a rescue line (no general enquiries please) on 07787 433412.
Please notice that this number diverts to one of our Out of Hours coordinators and therefore cannot accept texts, voice messages or photographs.

Honey Bee Swarm – Part 1

bees bearding“The bees are swarming, the bees are swarming!!” A small group of us had assembled at Nectans Meadow, Devon UK, for the biannual meet up of the Atlantic Coast Friends of the Bees, discussing all things bee related, drinking tea and eating cake. All good meetings should have tea and cake. And bees. Our hosts, Sue and Mick, who have been using natural beekeeping methods in their apiary since they set it up seven years ago, were discussing the finer points of the top bar hive used in natural beekeeping, and Micks new adaptations to it to help the bees, when one of the group rushed in and exclaimed “The bees are swarming, the bees are swarming!!”

We dropped everything and rushed outside to see the meadow sky filled with thousands of honey bees.  Swarming happens when the colony becomes too big for the hive and is a means of reproducing. The old queen lays new queen broods and then under the cohersion of the lady workers, is starved to make her light enough to fly and then is not so subtley booted out to make room for the new virgin queen to hatch and take over the old hive. The old queen, in something reminiscent of a Game of Thrones episode, is forced out and approximately half of the workers go with her and scout for a new place to set up a new colony. It is this ‘booting out’ that is effectively the swarm we were witnessing.

Three years ago I undertook some training in natural beekeeping at Nectans Meadow, with Sue and Micksbees bearding at hive entrance apiary, under the tutelage of the barefoot beekeeper Phil Chandler. During that teaching weekend, we were so very lucky to witness the ‘bearding’ of honey bees under the hive. Bearding is when you see a large clump of bees, in this case around the hive entrance, and is often a means of the bees cooling down. The conditions that lead to ‘bearding’ are high temperatures, over-crowding, lack of ventilation, high humidity or some combination of those factors and during the spring months they may also do this just before they swarm.

This spring, Sue and Mick had seen the bees from one of their hives, the ‘posties’, bearding for several days before we arrived for our meeting. They had a strong inclination that the bees would be swarming soon, but it is something that happens only once or twice a year. For the colony to choose the day that we had our meeting, that we had prearranged months earlier, was insanely lucky and it couldn’t have been planned any better. They even waited for us to finish our tea and cake first.

Part 2 – transferring the swarm to a hive coming soon. To see footage of the bees swarming at Nectans Meadow check out the footage we filmed on our Bee swarming video

We’re currently building our own top bar hives in anticipation for a homeless swarm. Keep in touch as we’ll be offering natural bee keeping and top bar hive making courses in 2017.



The Rainman of Castle Rock December 31 2014

I’m sat here surrounded by chaos as I pack up the house that I have lived in for the last ten years. 2015 sees the jump start of my trying to live a life with fewer needs; fewer possessions, less reliance on ‘the grid’, more time spent reconnecting to the earth. In less than a week I’ll be leaving this home behind and starting on a series of adventures that, I hope, will bring me closer to the life I want to live. Spending time with indigenous people learning and sharing skills, time in nature learning to appreciate it all the more, time spent with friends old and new building a strong community and time alone pushing me to my own limits in the extreme conditions that I thrive in.

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