Courgette & Chocolate Cake

It’s the time of year when people who grow these monstrous green things (also called zucchini by some of our cousins), suddenly find they have a glut of them: courgette season is once again upon us!

There is always the possibility of having them sautéed, in a ratatouille, stir-fried in various ways and in a whole heap of others too, all of which are pretty good for you. However as we all learned from our childhoods, we know the best way to cope with a Very Healthy Vegetable is to cover it in chocolate and pretend it isn’t really there at all.

ChocCake

What looks a rather unpromising grey-brown when it goes in the oven, comes out chocolatey and delicious. The courgette keeps this cake wonderfully moist, and you can kind of pretend it’s good for you as well. It’s a win all round.

You can also use similar quantities of pumpkin or squash instead of courgette.

You will need:

  • A 2lb loaf tin, greased and lined (or use one of those awesome silicone ones, which I really recommend, and which don’t need lining); alternatively use a lined 8inch x 14inch (20cm x 35cm) baking tray.
  • 120g softened butter
  • 125ml sunflower oil
  • 100g caster sugar
  • 200g soft brown sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 130ml milk
  • 350g plain flour
  • 2tsp baking powder
  • 5tbsp cocoa
  • 350-400g peeled and finely grated courgettes
  • 1tsp vanilla

 

  1. Heat your oven to 190˚C / 370˚F/Gas mark 5.
  2. Mix the butter, oil and both sugars together until light and fluffy. Gradually add the eggs, one at a time and then the milk until mixed thoroughly.
  3. Sift the flour, baking powder and cocoa together and fold into the mixture. Stir in courgettes and vanilla, and spoon into tin.
  4. Bake for 35 to 45 minutes, until a skewer comes out clean. (Or possibly a little longer: it can be as long as 55 minutes, but maybe my oven is just inconsistent). If you used a baking tray, cut into delicious brownie-sized squares

Rhubarb and Custard Cake

rhubarb-and-custard-cake

This deliciously moist and more-ish cake, combining tart rhubarb and creamy custard, is a perfect late spring/early summer pudding, or fabulous had with coffee!

 

 

 

14oz/400g trimmed rhubarb, cut into little-finger-sized pieces

8oz/250g butter/margarine (soft), plus extra for greasing

8oz/250g self-raising flour

8oz/250g caster sugar for the cake, plus a further 1.5oz/50g for roasting the rhubarb

5oz/150g custard, ideally relatively thick.

½ teaspoon baking powder

4 large eggs

1 tsp vanilla extract

Icing sugar, for dusting, if desired.

 

  1. Make the custard in advance or buy ready-made (I always make about a pint then weigh out 5oz/150g; it is the cook’s prerogative to finish it off), and allow to cool. Heat oven to fan 180˚C/350˚F, and grease and line a 9inch/23cm cake tin.
  2. Put the rhubarb in a shallow dish or a baking tray, tip over 50g caster sugar, toss together, then shuffle rhubarb so it’s in a single layer. Cover with foil and roast for 15 mins. Remove foil, Give everything a little shake, and roast for 5 mins further or until tender and the juices are syrupy.
  3. When finished, strain as much of the syrup away as possible (tip: while very acidic on its own, the rhubarb-flavoured syrup I think is awesome cold with soda water, so don’t throw it away – find a use for it!)
  4. Meanwhile, mix together the butter/margarine and remaining 250g sugar, then eggs, flour, baking powder and vanilla extract. Reserve 2-3 tablespoons of the custard, and mix the rest into the cake batter.
  5. Put 1/3 of the resulting mix into the cake tin, then add about 1/3 of the rhubarb pieces; then another 1/3 of the mix, more rhubarb, and then again a 3rd time, so the rhubarb is reasonably distributed through the cake in roughly 3 layers.
  6. Dot any remaining pieces of rhubarb, and the reserved custard, over the top. Don’t worry about making the top of the cake ‘flat’ – the pretty moist batter starts off baking with a mind of its own anyway!
  7. Bake for about 40 minutes, or until the top has started to go golden-brown, cover with foil and continue to bake for up to another 15  minutes, depending on your oven. I tend to take it out every 3-4 minutes during this time and test it (a skewer inserted into the middle should come out clean). If there are areas which even after 50 minutes still seem ‘wet’, it’s 99% certainly baked through – you may have just hit a particularly thick area of custard! Dust with icing sugar if desired.

Beth’s Gluten Free Apple Crisp

Opening the baking series with a revisited classic; the Apple Crisp! This delightfully Gluten free recipe is perfect for sharing among friend and family with no guilt, as it provides great energy for the outdoor season. Serves 4, 2 mega-hungry or 1 lady marathoning series! Fabulous with ice cream.

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Gluten Free Apple Crisp

4 apples, cored, and diced; 5 plums, halved, pitted and quartered; 1/4 cup fresh apple juice (or apple sauce); 2 tablespoons firmly packed brown sugar

Topping:

3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons gluten free flour (a range of options is available, my favorite is Kamut flour!); 1/3 cup dairy-free spread, diced; 1/2 cup buckwheat flakes; 1/2 rice flakes; 3 tablespoons sunflower seeds (or your favorite chopped nut or seed!); 1/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar; 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon (I also add a pinch of nutmeg)

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Mix the apples, plums, apple juice, and sugar together in a 9-inch round pie plate.

To make the topping, sift the flour into a mixing bowl and rub in the spread with your fingertips until it resembles coarse bread crumbs. Stir in the buckwheat and rice flakes, sunflower seeds, sugar, and cinnamon, then spoon the topping over the fruit in the dish.

Bake the crisp in the preheated oven for 30-35 minutes, or until the topping is lightly browned and crisp.

Let me know in the comments how you liked it! muah!