Secret Recipe: Strawberry Spruce Cake Festooned with Glacier Lilies (Vegan and Gluten-Free!) — The Wondersmith (2024)

Secret Recipe: Strawberry Spruce Cake Festooned with Glacier Lilies (Vegan and Gluten-Free!) — The Wondersmith (1)

Learning to Dance with Flavor:

Sometimes the recipes I create come from careful planning and research, lots of testing, and a path to a specific desired outcome. But when it comes to foraged foods, more often than not, I let the landscape lead the way!

Foraging is a little like dancing - you can relax into the blissful flow of the process, but need to remain alert to changes in direction and to your surroundings as a whole. Often, I’ll stumble upon some delicious wild food but have no idea what to make with it, only to then find further inspiration as I waltz into a grove of nearby trees or further up a mountain path. It’s fascinating to me how plants that tend to grow together, go together. It’s especially lovely to be able to capture the taste of a place by using ingredients from one particular biome to evoke the magic and memories of that specific moment in time. The more you get to know the community of wild edibles that surround you, the easier it will be to see those connections and intuitively combine them into something special. At first it might feel like awkwardly learning one move at a time (or even just trying to feel into the rhythm), but after some time and experience it will come as naturally to you as two seasoned dancers twirling around on the floor.

I always recommend new foragers to focus on one plant at a time. In fact, my ebook “Plant Magic,” is all about the ways I get to know a new plant myself. As you learn all about a plant’s identification, safety, preparation, and character, it becomes another new partner to dance with, in the woods and in the kitchen. I suppose you could say that one of my very first dance partners was the beautiful Glacier Lily, which inspired this cake!

Secret Recipe: Strawberry Spruce Cake Festooned with Glacier Lilies (Vegan and Gluten-Free!) — The Wondersmith (2)

These pretty yellow flowers have a sweet taste and refreshing crunch, and I’ve been nibbling on them since I was a little tyke. When I stumbled upon a big patch of them in the forest recently, the idea of a cake just absolutely covered in them danced into my mind and took up residence. I wasn’t sure what kind of cake to pair them with, until I came across a spruce tree just starting to bud out, bright green tips seeming to illuminate it in the woods. From there, my mind danced to wild strawberries, and the idea for this cake was formed.

This gluten-free, vegan cake has a wonderful spongy crumb. The cake itself is a beautiful bright red color, thanks to fresh spring strawberries blended right into the batter! The spruce tips lend a bright citrus flavor to compliment the sweetness of the strawberries. It is filled with a vegan cream cheese icing colored naturally with plant powders full of anthocyanins and other antioxidants. Finally, it is cheerfully festooned in a bright layer of glacier lilies, which serve as far more than decoration; they give the cake both flavor and textural appeal. To me it tastes of springtime, nostalgia, and the enchantment of the woods I love so much.

Notes on Glacier Lilies (Erythronium grandiflorum): these lovely little yellow flowers cover mountain hillsides in early-mid spring throughout the NW and parts of the west coast of the U.S. All parts of these plants are considered edible in moderation, though historically most of the focus was on the bulb-like underground parts called “corms,” which were an important source of sustenance for Native Americans, who processed them by cooking or drying. The corms can cause digestive upset if too many are eaten, but the flowers are much less likely to have that effect, especially in moderation (like the amount on a slice of cake.) As with any new plant, it’s a good idea to eat a small amount first, then wait 24 hours to see if you have any reaction to it before eating more. Good thing it’s best to freeze those cakes overnight before frosting and decorating anyways! To keep your freshly-picked glacier lilies fresh, put them in an airtight container on a damp paper towel and store them in the fridge. They’ll keep for several days, but I recommend starting your cake sooner rather than later.

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Secret Recipes

The Wondersmith

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Secret Recipe: Strawberry Spruce Cake Festooned with Glacier Lilies (Vegan and Gluten-Free!)  — The Wondersmith (2024)
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