A modern dilemma: How to indulge in fruit and vegetables while ensuring you still consume 5 portions of cake each day. I have an answer. Actually Nigel Slater has an answer – I’m just a scoffing minion.
Wanting to bake a goodbye cake for work (I’m leaving) while using up surplus veg I turned to the internet for creative solutions and up popped Nigel Slater’s Courgette Cake. Of all the celebrity chefs NS is probably the one whose fridge I would raid given the choice in some supermarket sweep style free-for-all. That I just imagined. He’s one of my food heroes because he is a simple and unpretentious foodie, grounded in the seasons and passionate about ingredients. His recipes strike me as inspirational and yet accessible. So courgette cake it is, rather than Jamie’s turnip pudding or Nigella’s sprout cup cakes
I tweaked the recipe slightly. Here are the ingredients I used
275g caster sugar
2 large free range eggs
275g plain flour
½ tsp Salt
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon
4tbsp greek yoghurt
1) Cream the sugar and butter until smooth. The butter needs to be room temperature for this – I cheated and blasted it in a microwave for 10 seconds.
2) Add the eggs and blend them into the mixture. NS says to do this one by one, which I did, but I’m not sure why you can’t do them at the same time. Chefs say these sorts of things. Delia would find a contrived way to take twice as long and create three times as much washing up, while Heston would doubtless involve dry ice at this point.
3) Coarsely grate the courgette and the apple.
You will need to squeeze as much liquid as possible from the grated mass in order not to waterlog the cake.
Now work the courgette & apple into the mix
4) Add the flour, salt, baking powder and cinnamon. Blend together using an electric whisk. I added some Greek yoghurt at this point because I felt that the mixture was a little too dry but whenever you are working with flour you have to make a hand-on decision about the addition of liquids.
5) Now stir in the pecans and sultanas, being not quite careful enough to ensure that ALL of the pecans go into the mix and not your face.
6) Spoon and level the mixture into a greased, lined baking tin OR just use a flexible baking mould.
I was wondering recently why baking paper seems to have vanished from the supermarket shelves – at least from Aldi, Lidl, Sainsburies (begrudgingly) and the local stores that I use. Somebody suggested that the rising popularity of silicone moulds may have reduced demand for baking parchment. It’s a good theory, although I still find this a pain. Turns out that Wilko’s still stock it.
7) Bake for until golden and firmish. For me this was around 55 minutes. Allow to cool before you get busy with a knife. Otherwise it’s all going to fall apart (I have been impatient far too many times at this point)
8) Sample – for quality purposes. Hey – this is really nice! Decide whether your work colleague deserve this. Then remember last week’s office medical checks which revealed a wide range of serious albeit sometimes amusing health problems amongst my office pals.
This cake isn’t going to solve anybodies dietary issues. But I hope it might just divert a few troubled minds away from the burdensome worries of physical health. Cake – at least good cake – is health food for the soul.