I have always been intrigued by wild food; things that can be collected and eaten. Plus, there’s that added element of danger — that ‘is it edible or will it kill me?’ factor. It’s a bit of a thrill.
The Irish countryside is replete with interesting edibles. Many of us have only to have a rummage in the garden or explore the nearest hedgerows and fields to gather an array of beautifully-scented plants that can (or can’t — this is where Google comes in handy) be used as baking ingredients. All-in- all, foraging is a fun and rewarding way to incorporate new and interesting flavours and textures into your food. It is also a sustainable, free bounty — what’s not to like?
There are so many flowers that smell ‘delicious’ to me; yes — the kind of ‘I want to eat you’ delicious. And why not? So many common flowers are not only sweetly-perfumed, but edible and nutritious.
I’ve forever gone loco for the coconut-scented Furze. Since childhood, it has been my number one I-want- to-eat- that-can- I plant. This time of year, clusters of bright yellow blossoms burst forth from the spiny shrubs that run rampant through the Irish countryside, seeming to signal the arrival of summertime (usually it is the only indication).
Naturally enough, Furze complements coconut. I also added the juice and zest of a blood orange, which gives a hint of acidity and adds balance to the mellow flavour of the batter. If this cake batter were to speak (and it was a Donovan fan), it might say ‘ they call me mellow yellow’.
It might also say ‘I’m just mad about saffron, a-saffron’s mad about me…’ At this point you should stop listening to the cake batter. I once added a heap of saffron. Don’t do it.
Furze blossom cake
1 orange (juice and zest - I used a blood orange)
½ cup furze blossom petals (washed and removed from the outside 'husk')
2 medium free-range eggs
120g cottage cheese (or yogurt/ quark)
35g coconut oil
30g coconut flour
65g ground almonds
80g Vitafiber powder
35g desiccated coconut
15g vanilla protein powder
1 tsp baking powder
¼ tsp baking soda
1. Pre-heat your oven to 180C. If you don’t have a silicon baking pan, grease, or line your cake pan of choice with parchment paper.
2. In a mixing bowl, add the dry ingredients and mix.
3. To your food processor, add the Furze blossoms, eggs, oil, and cottage cheese. Blitz.
4. Grate the orange zest into the mixture and then add the juice.
5. Slowly add in the dry mixture.
6. Add in the milk if the mixture looks too thick.
7. Pour into your cake pan and bake for around 30 minutes, or until an inserted knife comes out clean.