As the sun returns after many, chilly autumn like weeks in Wales, it appears we are due 2 days of summer. So after weeks of baking some very unseasonal bakes (there may have been gingerbread, it’s been cold out there), the sudden hit of vitamin D has me inspired once again.
The windows are agape, letting in the summer breeze & the wonderful scent of freshly cut grass through the house. The garden furniture has come out of hiding in all is dusty glory, cobwebs & all. Valuable storage room in the freezer has been cleared & reserved for my soon to be garden glut of blackcurrants. Finally, walking routes have been established to forage for the very best hedgerows full of blackberries.
Optimistic as I am, though I’m not going as far as to dig out the barbecue & SPF quite yet, this is Britain & there is always a 50% chance of rain regardless of the season. Instead, I will bring a little sunshine to the kitchen too, something to prolong our short bursts of summer. Something that can be enjoyed with a large pot of tea in the peace & tranquility of the garden.
Many recipes spring to mind when I think of my favourite season: summer pudding, trifle, cheesecake, scones, pavlova…all serious contenders for my attention at this time of year. Whilst the seasons offerings include a beautiful, jewelled array of summer berries & zesty fruits it also includes vegetables.
I may have a slight penchant for vegetable cakes & this season includes three of my favourite cake culprits: carrots, beetroot & courgettes. Most people are stopped in their tracks (or at least give you some form of funny look) whenever you dare to put the words ‘courgette’ & ‘cake’ together but trust me on this, try it once & you’ll never look back.
Like with any vegetable cake, this is one is moist, it’s not overly sweet being almost borderline savoury but it’s finished delicately with a light blend of spices & a sweetened elderflower icing to bring it back into sweet perfection.
It’s a different yet perfect way to use up a garden glut of courgettes (which ultimately was the aim with this one), but whether you grown your own or buy them in, this is a cake that you need to try at least once in your life (even if purely out of intrigue).
This cake has seen many attempts, tweaks & faffing over the years, it’s been baked round, bundt & finally loaf shaped, as such it’s aptly named ‘Courgette cake 6.0’ in my messy little recipe book. A reflection of just how much I love this little cake (or just that I eat a lot of cake). Finally, I’ve nailed the perfect courgette cake, light moist, sweet & summery, I hope you agree it was worth the effort.
(makes one 2lb loaf cake)
- 240g plain flour
- 135g caster sugar
- 1 1/4 tsp bicarbonate of soda
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp nutmeg
- 1/4 tsp cardamom
- zest x1 orange
- 1 egg
- 125ml buttermilk (or yogurt)
- 1tsp vanilla
- 135ml rapeseed oil
- 145g courgette (grated & squeezed of excess liquid)
- 45g walnuts (roughly chopped)
For the icing & decoration:
- 1 tbsp elderflower cordial
- 7 tbsp icing sugar
- 1 tbsp sunflower seeds
- A small handful of edible or dried flowers
- Begin by greasing & lining a 2lb (30cm) loaf tin with baking parchment
- In a large bowl, sift together the flour, sugar, bicarbonate of soda & spices before stirring through the orange zest
- In a separate bowl or jug, combine the buttermilk, vanilla, egg & oil
- Make a small well in the middle of the dry ingredients & pour the combined wet ingredients into the bowl & fold to combine
- Add the grated courgette & walnuts to bowl stir to combine everything together
- Pour the mixture into the prepared tin & bake at 180°C for 50 minutes to 1 hour until the cake is golden brown & springing back when pressed lightly with your finger
- Remove the cake from the oven & leave to cool in its tin for 10 minutes before removing & allowing to cool fully on a cooling rack
- Once cooled, make the icing by combining the elderflower cordial with enough of the icing sugar to make a pourable but not too runny or thin icing
- Drizzle the icing over the cake & sprinkle with the sunflower seeds & flower petals