Nettle Cake, and a Tom Waits Line

'Pretend that you owe me nothing. And all the world is green.'

This is a line from my friend Graham’s favourite Tom Waits song. I pride myself on my music taste, but Graham is a walking musical encyclopedia; every time we meet, his knowledge astounds me. He’s also my favourite DJ — he’ll bust out Bob Dylan and Tom Waits, interspersed with Pixies, Pulp, Beck, Buck 65… and somehow always keep everyone on the dancefloor with me.

But back to the quote; Ireland is indeed green, more green than ever — has someone upped the colour saturation? Nope, but the sun is out, and how! We embrace this new love affair with our country, as it shows its true colours — the green, white and gold — in the form of lush greenery, the shock of white pasty skin exposed, and the copper tops of my freckle-smattered siblings. All is forgiven as we revel in this all-too- rare hot spell; the weather dazes and dazzles us, and everyone seems happy and somewhat dumbfounded.

Maybe this weather will make us think kindly upon one of Ireland’s most disrelished plants - the stinging nettle. In our newfound spirit of sun-inspired decency, I hope that we might learn to forgive it its sting, and take the time to learn about its nice side. Let’s give nettles a well-deserved chance. But how can we show our fondness for nettles, when they clearly do not want to be touched? By baking them into a cake, of course! It’s basically the equivalent of dressing them in a nice suit, smoothing their hair, and taking them to meet your mom. I promise they will come across well.

Nettles are very healthy — being high in the essential minerals iron, magnesium, and calcium. They are also extremely efficient plant pollinators, and are popular butterfly fare for all the most common winged pretties that visit your garden.

So let’s pay homage to the neglected nettle by enjoying this slightly earthy, tangy, tender cake. The zippy citrus of the lemon complements our stinging friend beautifully, and the hemp flour adds a faint nuttiness and buckets of nutrition. This cake is extremely healthy — grain-free, sugar-free, low-carb, and high in minerals and vitamins.

Ingredients
1 cup nettles (wear gloves, and pick young leaves)
2 medium free range eggs
½ cup grated courgette/zucchini, squeezed of its water
Zest and juice of one large lemon
140g cottage cheese
45g coconut flour
50g erythritol
30g grass-fed butter
15g hemp seed flour
Approx 20 drops liquid stevia
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
A sprinkle of sea salt

Topping
50g icing erythritol
100g quark
20g vanilla protein powder (optional)
1 tsp coconut flour
Juice of ½ a lemon
A dash of sea salt
½ tsp vanilla extract

Method
1. Boil your nettles for 4 minutes, and drain.
2. Preheat the oven to 180C, and prepare a loaf tin.
3. Add nettles to food processor with grated courgette/zucchini, and add in the rest of your wet ingredients.
4. Combine dry ingredients in separate bowl, and then add slowly to food processor with the wet ingredients.
5. Pour into your pan, and bake for approx 30 minutes, or until an inserted knife comes out clean.