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I have a lot of stinging nettle in the yard. It used to vex me, giving me a rash when I was picking rhubarb, or irritating my ankles when I mowed the lawn. Then I found out you could eat it. It is one of the first harvestable greens in May, so now I look forward to picking it.

Colander of nettle
Fresh nettle. It’ll sting until it is steamed.

The bread I bake is gluten free, mildly sweet, with both honey and dark maple syrup. It is somewhat crumbly; if that annoys you, swap in some whole wheat flour for the spelt.

Ingredients

  • 8 oz butter
  • 1/3 cup dark maple syrup (“Grade A Dark Amber, ‘full rich taste'”)
  • 2/3 cup honey
  • 1-1/2 cup spelt flour
  • 3 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3 room-temperature eggs
  • 1-1/2 cups stinging nettle leaves, washed.

Instructions

Preheat the oven to 325

Place a steamer basket over a pot of water, bring to a boil. Add the nettle leaves and steam until wilted, 5-10 minutes, depending on the age of the leaves. Let them cool, then squeeze over the sink to remove as much water as possible (steaming kills the sting, so you won’t need gloves). Put the drained nettle on a cutting board and finely mince.

Melt the butter, syrup, and honey on the stove over medium heat until it bubbles. Stir to combine and let it cool for 10 minutes.

In a bowl, combine the spelt flour, baking powder and salt. Add in the honey mixture and stir well.

Whip the eggs until frothy and lemon-yellow in color, either by hand or in a mixer with the whisk attachment. Add to the batter, along with the minced nettle. Stir everything gently until it is all combined. (This will be a loose, runny batter.)

A bowl of batter, showing the proper, runny consistency
A really loose batter.

Pour into an oiled loaf pan and bake for 50-60 minutes, until a tester or toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.

Finished loaf, cooling.

I usually leave the loaf in the pan. If you want to remove it, wait until it is warm, then run a knife around the edges and carefully remove it with a spatula.

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