I Bake Nature-Inspired Cakes, And Here Are My 15 Best Ones
I have a passion for baking for others - in fact, I often feature recipes like these at the free events I throw for strangers who discover the invitations I've hidden in public places!
When I'm not able to share these treats at gatherings, I share them through my blog so that my readers can enjoy the natural inspiration that flavors everything I do.
I am constantly inspired by the beauty and bounty of the Pacific Northwest, which I hope is apparent in these baked treats! I love connecting with the natural world by carefully and respectfully foraging many of my ingredients.
From wading through deep ponds to gather cattail pollen to braving stinging nettle patches for nutritious leaves, it's always an adventure!
As an added bonus, all of these treats are completely free of any artificial coloring. Nature is colorful enough for me!
More info: thewondersmith.com
Elderflower And Rhubarb Fairy Cake (With Edible Butterflies)
Ethereal elderflowers and luscious rhubarb make a cake worthy of any Queen of Fae. As an added bonus, I even made the butterflies out of edible wafer paper colored with saffron!
I have a genetic health condition that makes it difficult to be on my feet for very long, so I'm often sitting on counters or in my "kitchen chair" while I prepare recipes. Part of my baking process also usually includes foraging, so it comes after I've had the chance to get out in the woods for some wild food foraging (on a good health day) or in my wheelchair for some urban foraging (if my symptoms are worse) to find tasty wild treats to include in my bakes.
The time that it takes to finish depends a lot on the cake! Some of the more simple ones, I can easily make in a couple of hours. Others, I break down into steps and work on a little bit over a couple of days, since I don't always have a lot of energy on any given day due to health conditions.
Huckleberry And Violet Cheesecake
There's nothing I love more than wild Idaho huckleberries, which gave this cheesecake its bright purple color! I topped it with candied violets, fresh violets, violet sugar, blueberries, and pansies.
Blueberry Jasmine Seafoam Cake
This tender blue cake is colored naturally with juicy blueberries, while sugar "seafoam" gives it texture inspired by a day at the coast
My personal favorite cake is the Magnolia Caramel Bundt Cake because it's both really simple to make and absolutely delicious! Magnolias give it such a unique, almost gingery flavor... it's really special. My most popular cake is my Stinging Nettle Moss Cake - a lot of people don't realize that stinging nettles are edible (and delicious!) and that the spines that sting disappear when you cook them. This is a great way to introduce people to the wonders of eating wild foods.
I love baking these cakes so much that I usually struggle more with too much inspiration and not enough time/energy to do it all! As I learn more about wild foods and edible flowers, I am constantly awash with ideas about how to use them in my creations. I also love researching historical recipes or reading about food traditions from all over the world!
Lemon And Stinging Nettle Moss Cake
This beautifully green cake is naturally colored with foraged stinging nettle leaves and has a bright citrus flavor.
Sugarplum Fairy Filled Tear And Share Rolls
This tasty confection was inspired by sugarplums, or at least my idea of what I think they should taste like. The dough is colored naturally purple with berry powder, then filled with foraged fruits soaked in brandy and spices. I even made the sugarplums on top out of berries, marzipan, and spices.
A weird fact about me is that I can't eat any of my bakes anymore! Over the years, my digestive system has become paralyzed due to the neurological condition I have, and I get all of my nutrition pumped directly into my jugular vein.
Because of this, I really rely on my taste testers (usually my fiance and family, sometimes lucky neighbors or friends) to tell me how something tastes. My sense of smell has gotten stronger so I am pretty good at balancing flavors, but sometimes I need feedback like "it could use a little more salt" or "this one might be too sour".
Rowan Upside Down Cake With Edible Raven Skulls
This lovely cake was inspired by the magic in the air around Halloween... tart rowan berries are paired with a rich ginger cake, then topped with edible marzipan raven skulls.
May Wine And Saffron Pear Frangipane Tart
May Wine is white wine infused with the ethereal flavor of sweet woodruff. I had some left over from my celebrations, so I poached some pears in it with some saffron and used them to top a tender frangipane tart. Edible flowers finished the look.
As for my future goals, I'd really love to become a published author. I have so many book ideas, and so much drive to create them. I love being able to share my recipes with others and see what they've baked, and knowing I could reach even more people eager to try baking with foraged ingredients and a bit of magic would make me so happy!
Elderberry Curd And Chocolate Tart
Juicy elderberries make a rich purple filling for this complex autumn tart. I decorated it with a mandala of purple fruits for added appeal.
Curly Dock And Balsamic Strawberry Tart
Many see curly dock as a weed, but I see it as a source of delicious and hearty flour! The dark brown flour is similar in taste to buckwheat, giving a hearty base to a topping of yogurt and balsamic-soaked strawberries. And yes, those butterflies are also edible.
Cattail Pollen Solstice Star Bread
The delicate floral flavor of cattail pollen is absolutely scrumptious with apricot jam and pine nuts! I made this sweet bread to celebrate the Winter Solstice and the return of the light to my region.
Wild Rose And Thyme Skillet Oatcake
I baked this hearty treat in late winter to celebrate taking things slow. Both oats and rose are known to be soothing and nourishing, so I also whipped myself up a face mask to use while I waited for the cake to cook. Now that's multitasking!
Acorn And Bourbon Elf Queen Cake
Processing foraged acorns into flour takes a lot of work... but the effort is worth it, as acorn flour is delightfully caramel-like and cozy! I baked mine into this moist bundt cake topped with a bourbon brown sugar icing and candied acorns and hazelnuts. My Elf Queen friend loved it!
Pine Nut Olive Oil Cake
An Ancient Greek cake recipe was my inspiration, but I filled this gluten-free cake with ground pine nuts instead. It was extra pretty with a nut and seed mandala on top.
This lightly-sweetened cornbread is full of the wild flavor of goldenrod, known to give a sunny disposition to whoever consumes it. I topped this one with another nut and seed mandala to celebrate harvest season.
Wild Berry Barmbrack With Goji Berry Icing
A traditional Irish Halloween treat, barmbrack is a sweet yeasted bread. I filled mine with all sorts of foraged berries, then baked it in a decorative bundt tin and drizzled it with naturally-orange goji berry icing.