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savory-spinach-wild-garlic-porcini-cake food to glowThis is simply one of the nicest cakes I’ve made – sweet or savory. And it is not just the taste, wonderful though it is.

When I was doodling ideas for this Easter recipe in my little black book I had a feeling that it would be a keeper. The deep, herbaceous freshness of just-picked nettles and wild garlic, backed up with soft, slippery spinach and hidden depths of earthy-but-not-overwhelming porcini: that’s going to be a bit of all right, no matter what. But I wasn’t expecting to fall in love. Not with something so simple and practically free. Okay, the porcini are not free, but the dried ones I used aren’t too budget-stretching. So, free-ish.

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Foraged wild garlic & nettles, picked in Cramond & Barnton, Edinburgh

I should have realised that I would fall in love. As I folded the wilted greens into the loose spelt batter I was pleased I hadn’t done so in my normal manner – with the arm-cramping vigour of a stout Victorian cook. Instead I gently scooped the batter around the greens in a loose figure of eight, trying to incorporate enough air to ensure good lift, and noticed it had marbled beautifully. It seemed perfect in its bumpy, swirling imperfection. And if a cake looks pretty in its infancy, before it’s had a chance to brown and beautify and actually become a cake, well that’s a good omen, isn’t it? I popped this painterly melange into the oven and went about my domestic duties. While it was in the oven I nipped upstairs to grab a pile of clothes to wash, and was stopped in my tracks at the top of the landing. The smell. The deepest waft of umami. And it was coming from my kitchen.savory-spinach-wild-garlic-porcini-cake food to glow

It will be coming from my kitchen at Easter, too. We will be having this savoury, foraged cake with these carrots, possibly some asparagus, and definitely this creamed kale (yes, I know, quite a few greens). Oh, and some spring onion gravy.

Below the recipe I give links to other vegetable cakes suitable for the Easter table, or for any time you fancy eating cake for dinner. 🙂

savory-spinach-wild-garlic-porcini-cake food to glow

Savory Spinach, Wild Garlic, Nettle & Porcini Cake

  • Servings: 8
  • Difficulty: easy to moderate
  • Print

This is an easy and pretty flexible recipe. No nettles? Use all spinach. No wild garlic? Just use one small clove of bulb garlic. And of course use any deeply flavoured mushroom rather than porcini – but if you do you will miss out on the deep umami notes that porcini brings to this. Oh, I’ve given options for adding cheese, as well as olives, sun-dried tomatoes or walnuts, too. Like I said, flexible. Vegans, use your normal egg replacer and you’ll be just fine.

150g (5 oz) self-raising whole-grain (spelt) or wholemeal flour (I use Doves)*

150g (5 oz) self-raising white (spelt) flour*

½ tsp baking powder OR 2 ½ tsp if you don’t have self-raising flour

200g fresh spinach, washed

50g (1.8 oz) fresh, picked over nettle tops (the top five or six leaves from each plant)

30g (1 oz) wild garlic (about a double handful), chopped OR 1 small clove garlic, minced

20g (small palmful) dried porcini mushrooms soaked in hot water for 20 minutes, saving the soaking water**

4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

1 bunch spring onions/scallions, trimmed and sliced

1 tbsp Marmite or other yeast extract spread (if no Marmite or similar, try 2 tbsp dark soy sauce although it is not a real substitute)

½ tsp fresh ground pepper

4 eggs

1 tsp apple cider vinegar

200ml (6.75 fl oz) water OR liquid saved from blanching the vegetables and from the porcini soaking (I do the latter – no waste and more flavour)

Optional add-ins: 125g grated strongly flavoured cheese, such as vegetarian Parmesan, pecorino Romano, or vintage Cheddar; 75g chopped walnuts; handful of chopped olives; small handful chopped sundried tomatoes

To garnish for Easter: watercress or lamb’s lettuce/ mache + cooked quail’s eggs (Sally tells you how) or olives

1. Preheat the oven to 200C/400F. Oil a 20cm/8 inch round removable bottom tin and line with parchment paper. You could also use a 900g/2 lb loaf tin – oiled and lined, mini loaf tins or muffin tins – the latter two just oiled and lightly dusted with flour.parchment

2. Dry whisk the flours and baking powder together in a large mixing bowl. Set aside.

3. Blanch the spinach and nettles in boiling water for 2 minutes, adding the wild garlic the last 30 seconds. Drain in a colander, catching as much of the liquid as you can to use in a bit. Run a cold tap and rinse the vegetables to cool them. Drain and press out the liquid with a spoon. You don’t want the vegetables to be soggy or it will affect the cake. Chop, blot with kitchen paper, and set aside.

4. Heat the oil in a sauté pan and add the spring onions, Marmite, pepper and soaked porcini (chop or snip the porcini first). Cook, stirring, until the spring onion is just soft but not golden – about three minutes. If you are using garlic rather than wild garlic, sauté this with the onions. Set aside to cool.

5. Add the eggs, soaking/cooking water, and vinegar to the dry ingredients. Mix well, then stir in the softened onions and mushrooms. Gently fold in the wilted greens and any add-ins you wish.

6. Spoon the mixture into the prepared tin and bake in the preheated oven for 35-40 minutes, or until the cake is just pulling away from the tin and the top is golden. Just to be sure, pierce the centre with a skewer or toothpick and check that no batter clings to the tip. Every oven is different so do check just before 35 minutes and judge for yourself how long to keep it in. It will also depend on if you have added extra bits to the batter. Mini loaf tins or muffin tin versions should take about 12-15 minutes.savory-spinach-wild-garlic-porcini-cake food to glow

6. Allow the cake to cool in the tin for 15 minutes, then release and remove the paper. Pop the cake on a baking rack or serving plate, and cool enough to allow you to decorate with the watercress and quails eggs, as shown. Serve with a big jug of vegetarian onion or mushroom gravy. I’m posting my spring onion gravy next, so look out for it. Serve warm or room temperature.

* can use gluten-free flour mix (such as Bob’s Red Mill or Doves), but add 50ml more liquid.

** the UK porcini picking season starts in September, depending on weather conditions. They are one of the few wild mushrooms that you can eat raw. You can freeze them (indeed buy bags of frozen ones at farm shops, and sometimes even Lidl!), and drying them intensifies their flavour. I plan on dusting off my dehydrator and drying my own this autumn. Here’s more info about picking and using porcini. And a lesson in mushroom dehydration from top forager and medical herbalist, Monica Wilde (yes, that’s her real name. Nominative determinism in action!). She has a fantastic site for all things foraged, as well as superb recipes. I’ve met her a few times and she is incredibly passionate about wild foods and shares her knowledge eloquently and generously. Here is a link to her foraging walks and courses she holds in Scotland (mainly near Edinburgh, but not always), sometimes with the fabulous (River Cottage) mycologist and raconteur, John Wright.

savory-spinach-wild-garlic-porcini-cake food to glowsavory-spinach-wild-garlic-porcini-cake food to glowquails-eggs food to glow

 More savory vegetable cakes

Cheesy Chickpea Cake – amuse your bouche

Savory Vegetable Loaf – gourmande in the kitchen {paleo}

Savory Vegetable Cake – farm on plate {Indian flavours}

Cauliflower Cheese Cake – food to glow

Sunny Spring Vegetable Muffins – food to glow

Celeriac & Carrot Rosti Cake -food to glow

And if you fancy making a natural Easter wreath






48 thoughts on “A Foraged Savory Vegetable Cake for a Vegetarian Easter

  1. Sally says:

    Amazing. Any sweet tooth I ever had in my head seems to be receding rapidly. Savoury cakes are in the ascendency – especially if they look this pretty. Thanks for the shout out about the quail eggs – they look absolutely beautiful. I love that you paused at the top of the stairs with the aroma – isn’t it funny that it’s the same in every house.

  2. shambhavi31 says:

    This looks so delicious. Bet they are and nutritious as well! Will give it a try! Thanks for posting 🙂

  3. What a beautiful cake for Easter! I love foraged food, and turning it all into something so lovely? Fantastic! I’ll have to see what I can come up with to replace the nettles – spinach, as you suggested, or maybe I can find something local here. Gorgeous recipe, Kellie!

  4. jennie g-stevens says:

    Great recipe and wonderful pictures..well done you

  5. Shannon says:

    Being vegan, ‘savory’ is a word I like in a cake! We have plenty of nettle here, but no extra time for cooking yet. 🙁

    1. This is super easy Shannon. Get the kids to do the picking and it is really just a quick blanch (you don’t really need to sauté the other veg if you don’t want to), stir up and bake! It keeps for a couple of days and is nice cold with ketchup of all things (or so my husband reports). It pays back the small effort in being able to have leftovers.

      1. Shannon says:

        I will have to do that. Our nettle is the stinging kind, so they will wear gloves! Your description of the smell wafting from he kitchen is quite enticing. Cheers, Kellie, and Happy Easter to you from Texas.

  6. This looks truly delicious. Thanks for sharing.

  7. Ish says:

    Looks and sounds absolutely delicious! Will have to make one …

  8. superfitbabe says:

    Clever recipe! I never thought of that, but it looks delicious!

  9. This looks AMAZING! Totally delicious, and spectacular too! Definitely need to give this a go.

    1. Thanks so much Becca. That’s awfully kind of you. And thanks for the sweet IG comment, too. 🙂

  10. narf77 says:

    I am going to see if I can’t take the chickpea brine craze and make it savoury. Everyone has been making meringues and pavlovas (and why wouldn’t you?) but I think that savoury applications might really give vegans a boost. I am going to try a combo of using chick pea flour and the whipped foam to see if I can’t replicate a quiche. Wish me luck!

  11. lizzygoodthings says:

    Oh now, this really IS special. Just delicious and delightful Kellie xo

  12. Oh my goodness this is gorgeous! I am heading to my in law’s house for easter, and will be taking a crack at this recipe to make and bring with me! Thanks for posting

    1. I would love to think this might be on your MIL’s table at Easter! I will be posting some fab gravy that goes with it soon, if you need a recipe. 🙂

  13. rofathasalat says:

    Stunning. Love the foraged greens!

  14. What a gorgeous blog full of deliciousness!

    1. Thank you. I need to update my Index though ;-/ I’m so far behind! Thanks for finding me. 🙂

  15. Feast Wisely says:

    A lovely recipe – this cake would look gorgeous on any Easter table…

  16. This is so beautiful, wow, I would love to serve this on Easter Sunday, what an inspiration, stunning!

    1. Aw, coming from you that means a lot. Thanks lovely Miss Niki. 🙂

  17. Savory vegetable cakes are something I don’t really make, but this looks like a show stopper. The perfect brunch item that gets your bread and egg dish in one, and it seems like the ideal winter to spring transition centerpiece. Lovely Kellie!

    1. Thanks so much Katie. I am really loving this.For Easter itself I will add a layer of blue cheese to amp up the umami quotient and decadence factor 🙂

  18. Now, that is a great idea, savoury Easter cake!! Loving it 😉

    1. Thanks Margot. 🙂

  19. I love the thought of enjoying a savoury cake, I hadn’t realised you have a few of these delights on your blog. I am definitely making this for my first picnic of the year!

    1. Thanks, Laura. The basic recipe is hugely adaptable to what you have to hand, veg-wise.

  20. missklj says:

    This sounds insanely good. Can’t wait to go and forage my ingredients, it’ll be the perfect Easter weekend treat.

    1. Cheers for the lovely comment. Non-foraging options given as well. Not everyone lives in woods like I do!

  21. kerberos616 says:

    Reblogged this on Kerberos616.

  22. This looks amazing and so different to all the usual recipes out there.
    I think it’s long overdue I tried a few different meals.
    Fingers crossed

  23. It all just looks and sounds amazing! I’m not surprised you were so proud of it!!! xxx

  24. such a thrill to see wild garlic back on the menu… SO excited by this. This is such a beautiful savoury cake. I love stuff like this, it’s wonderful and such a brilliant nod to Spring too! Thanks so much for the beautiful entry to Simply Eggcellent x

  25. Wow that looks and sounds simply divine! x #recipeoftheweek

  26. Cooksister says:

    Oh me oh my…! I have a weakness for savoury cakes and this sounds like a particularly good one. And it has MARTMITE in it! Tastebuds doing the happy dance already 😉

    1. ha ha! My tastebuds are always dancing to some odd tune or another!

  27. I adore the look of this cake and foraging nettles and wild garlic is easy when I head to my folks. Will definitely be trying it . Great post. Best torie

    1. Thanks Torie. I love finding free food and doing fun things with it. And topping a cake with leaves and quails eggs is my kind of fun. 🙂

  28. Elizabeth says:

    Beautiful, simply beautiful and inspiring! I love it! Thank you for sharing with Extra Veg!

  29. Absolutely stunning. Thank you so much for linking up to Extra Veg !

  30. What beautiful photos and a delicious-sounding recipe! I’m in full foraging flow at the moment so will be trying out your recipe, with nettles from my garden and wild garlic from woodland nearby. I also loved your spring onion gravy and different uses for it!

    1. Thanks so much! I’m glad to hear from a fellow foraging fiend!

  31. Rosalie says:

    Jaaaa Kellie, THANK you for this one, I love baking and my mother used to make savory ones in france, and so I was looking for a good recipe. This is def the best one! and I have made it, and it is delicious! Have made it with half spelt half buckwheat flour, and dandelions & nettles from the garden. Simple chesnut-mushrooms with a spoon of miso. &With green olives and sunflowerseeds. Seeds are a great add for the nutty flavour, esp the ones that got crusty on the top. I do not do well with eggs inside my tummy, so i used egg replacer and instead of marmite, yeast flakes. I wish i could post you a picture it looks so great. Tahnk you again & Food Love to You!

    1. Thanks so much for your glowing comment, Rosalie! I”m so glad you made it, liked it and tweaked it to your liking. I love putting sunflower seeds on top with the crumb mixture. Texture is one of my things too. So, so glad you enjoyed it AND took the time to let me know. Thanks!

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