I remember hearing years ago of someone making a ginger cake but using hogweed seeds instead of ginger – it has been so long I don’t know who came up with the idea, but I finally got around to trying it out and the result is delicious. Hogweed seeds are one of many of the UK’s wild spices, ingredients that in small amounts add strong flavours to a dish.
Many of these seeds, roots, leaves and flowers have traditional uses that have been forgotten and others have been recently discovered by foragers experimenting. I haven’t come across records of historical uses of hogweed seeds (from Heracleum sphondylium) in the UK. A related species Heracleum persicum has a long history of use in Iran, where it is known as golpar, and is still widely used, as a flavouring for lentil soup and broad bean dishes according to the website Fig and Quince.
I often use hogweed seeds in a similar way for savoury dishes with pulses, this was the first time I tried them in a dessert. The flavour of hogweed seeds is similar to cardamom with a hint of orange rind, so I am sure it could work well in other desserts that use these flavours.
I made this for one of my foraging courses the other week and it went down a treat with some mugwort and nettle tea after 3 hours walking in the cold. A few people got in touch afterwards to ask for the recipe so here it is:
420g plain flour
270ml almond milk
270g brown sugar
120ml rapeseed oil
5 tbsp of honey
7 tsp ground hogweed seeds
1.5 tsp baking powder
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
- Grind the hogweed seeds in a spice/coffee grinder or with a pestle and mortar
- Combine all the ingredients in a mixing bowl, adding the almond milk last by slowly pouring it in while mixing with an electronic or hand whisk until it is a smooth consistency
- Pour into a greased 10″ x 8″ baking tin
- Bake at 180c until brown on top and cooked all the way through (about 30 mins)
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