Words and photographs by Rebecca Bentley

Rachel Lambert’s Sea Spinach & Olive Oil Cake

If she’s not out in the woods or foraging along the coastline for wild foods, you’re most likely to find Rachel Lambert in her kitchen cooking up a feast with her finds.

“I love cake, I got brought up with it. Friday was baking day at home, and I remember sticking my fingers in many of my mum’s sweet mixtures. These days I still enjoy the alchemy of baking, though I tend to veer away from using too much sugar and also like to experiment with more unusual ingredients,” she says.

Rachel’s sea spinach and olive cake has a rather savoury flavour so it makes a perfect breakfast treat as well as dessert and you can’t beat the feeling of cooking with your own hand picked ingredients. The sea spinach was foraged at St Loy’s Cove and even if it’s based on a Turkish recipe, it’s still Cornish through and through.

See our feature on wild winter greens in the March issue out now to find out what other unlikely edibles are lurking in the bushes and visit to book yourself onto Rachel’s upcoming wild food courses.

3 eggs
1 tsp vanilla essence
2/3 cup fructose or 1 cup sugar
8oz (1 cup puree) sea spinach/beet leaves – raw
3/4 cup of olive oil
3 tbsp lemon juice
1.5 cups plain white (gluten free) flour blend or plain wheat flour
3 tsp baking powder
pinch of salt

Pre-heat the oven at 350°/Gas Mark 5 and grease a cake tin with olive oil. Mix the wet ingredients together (eggs, oil, vanilla essence, lemon juice) with a fork. In a separate bowl, sieve the flour and add the sugar and baking powder. Remove the spinach stems if too they’re thick or long. Puree the spinach in a food processor or blender until it is a smooth mixture (you can add a little of the ‘wet’ ingredients to aid this process).

Make a well in the middle of the dry mix and slowly add in the wet mixture, beating it all together with a whisk or wooden spoon. Add the spinach puree and mix well. If you are using gluten-free flour the mixture will be very sloppy, but this is normal. Bake at 350° for about 30 minutes. When the cake is done, the edges will be slightly brown and it will pull away from the sides easily. You can also check by piercing it with a skewer to make sure that the mixture is cooked all the way through.

Tips: Gluten free flour will take longer to cook. Virgin olive oil will give a stronger flavour. Fructose is sweeter than sugar, though without such a sugar rush.