Friday, September 2, 2011

Use Your Loaf

Yup, they just keep on coming; the courgettes are still popping up outside, and after a bout of courgette fatigue I just had to take a break. But of course, when I ventured back in amid those large coarse leaves there were tons of little green marrow curving out hopefully in defiance of gravity, anxious to be picked and eaten before they turn into watery oversized marrow fit only for the compost heap. I decided to turn my hand to a sweet creation, having heard a bit about courgette cake here and there. I wasn't looking to create a fancy tiered-and-frosted affair, just something in a loaf tin that I could hack ginormous doorsteps off to eat with coffee in the morning. And the afternoon. And when people call in for coffee. And any other time I might be in the mood for it, really. I found a recipe to fit the bill in the Tess Kiros book Apples For Jam, a very pretty, nostalgic sort of book with recipes inspired by her childhood favourites, as well as what she cooks for her own family, and chapters divided up on the basis of the colour of the food. A tad quirky, perhaps - but then I never necessarily search for a recipe in a book on the basis of a title of a particular chapter; I would generally mark out a few after leafing through the whole book, or look for specific ingredients in the index at the back. This recipe is a nice simple, straightforward one, requiring minimal, if any, grocery shopping. I popped it in the oven right before I had my brekkie, it was in the oven just long enough to eat and get a few things done, and out just in time for a mid-morning coffee break.

The oven heats up at 180 degrees, and at some point you need to remember to pop 60g pecans in there to toast. But don't forget to take them out in time...nowt more euccccccccch than a load of burnt nuts. Beat 180g raw caster sugar along with 185ml/6 fl oz olive oil (I ran out, so I added melted butter to top it up) and 1 teaspoon vanilla extract.

Then beat in three eggs, one by one.

Mmmmm, spices, fragrance and warmth: 1/2tsp cinnamon and a pinch of nutmeg, as well as 1.5 tsp baking powder and 1/2 tsp baking soda. 

280g plain flour goes in there too. At the time it seemed a little drier than cake mix generally does at this point, but I presume that the high water content of the courgettes is factored in to balance it all out. 

Then the courgettes go in in all of their green glory: 350g, grated, along with salt, black pepper and 2 tsp lemon zest.

Hopefully you will not have become so very absorbed in your cake-baking that you forgot your pecans toasting away in the oven. Or maybe, just maybe, you are so very super-speedy that you only just remembered, but they just happen to be done to the point of perfection. Either way, it's now time for them to make their entrance.

You could chop them, if you are fond of hassle and washing up and bits of nuts flying around the kitchen. Or you could just crunch them up with your hands into the mix. 

Scoop it all up into a loaf tin.

55-60 minutes in there and out it comes, all golden and glorious - BUT - not quite ready to slice. It's too moist and needs to settle a little, so give it about ten minutes or so to cool down, otherwise it'll collapse down into a soggy mush.

See what happens if you have a little patience? Neat slices, still lovely and warm.

The perfect accompaniment to a little mid-morning perusing of Niamh Shields' new cookbook, Comfort and Spice - such a very appropriate title of a book to be eating this cake to, and more of which coming your way very soon.


  1. i've been meaning to make a chocolate courgette cake for a while but i think i may give it a miss- this one sounds better!

  2. Oooo...I am you really think so, I think that chocolate is always a welcome addition!!! Though I do have to say that this really is yum.