This courgette cake was a long time coming. The cake stand in my kitchen had gathered dust. Perched atop the cabinets, it’s stood unloved since the Marvellous Night Circus cake, a state of affairs that 2012 me would never have predicted.
She also wouldn’t have predicted me being caught out with a cache of enormous courgettes that need eating.
Those ones went into courgette and Comté gratin (recipe tbc), but they got me thinking about courgette cake. When I said those words, people recoiled slightly, much like they did with avocado cake, but I’ve proven ’em wrong once and I’ll prove ’em wrong again.
This cake is perfect for this time of year, when strawberry season comes to an end, courgette gluts leave home gardeners desperately pressing the vegetable into the arms of visitors, and the clouds open to remind us that yes, we’ve had a delightful three days of summer but we are still in England, giving you just enough time to put the oven on and consider branching out into wearing sleeves again.
aaaaaaaaaaaand we’re in! We have an oven that works! That tart up there is one of the first things I’ve baked here, and it didn’t burn on the bottom or anything. It’s all about the little victories, right?
A week and a half in, the kitchen stuff still hasn’t been unpacked. If you employ tunnel vision, you’ll find corners that are almost Pinterest-worthy – I couldn’t rest until I found a big jar to keep pasta in – but if you stop squinting you might spot a few still-wrapped plates, or a book that’s not quite in the right place. We’ve got our priorities sorted, though. The first time we came to the flat, we brought the essentials with us: kettle; mugs; teabags; and Hobnobs, always pronounced without the H. We moved the tea supplies in before we’d even been given the keys.
It feels right, finally. We – three of us, now – have grown as people considerably in the last year and a half, and this flats feels like it reflects us better than the flats we could never quite bring ourselves to call “home” ever did. The first few days, we’d nudge each other every now and then just to say, “Hey. Hey. We live here.” This is where we have a biscuit jar to dip into, and little bits of each of our personalities perched on every shelf and worktop.
Regardless of the boxes hastily shoved into corners, we’ve had friends over for dinner. Obviously I volunteered to make dessert, and obviously this ended with me botching together a recipe on that day that, thankfully, worked, so I didn’t have to pull my “sorry guys, here’s some ice cream” trick. You probably can’t go far wrong, though, with apples, cream, pecans, and rum.
Usually, I have a don’t-waste-drink-in-food policy. You know how recipes are often all, “add 250ml [semi-expensive] white wine”? When you don’t have spare twenties to throw around willy-nilly, you see that the same recipe with something else replacing the wine is almost as good. If you quantify the price of a bottle of wine by calculating how many weeks’ pasta, or cheese, or vegetables that’d be, you’re not as likely to throw a “glug” of the good stuff into a risotto. Food snobs, I’m sure, would be horrified. Read More
This isn’t the post that’s meant to be here today. For a little while I’ve been compiling this month’s Take Five, but, guys, I’m just too excited to not share this now. I made this super-easy pudding and then did a little happy jig when I ate it.
The recipe is based on my go-to pumpkin pie recipe, but updated a little to include a better mix of spices and to make it incredibly easy – you don’t even have to get the scales out, really. Just some measuring spoons and one bowl.
Last autumn, when pumpkin fever hit for the first time I made too much pie filling and had about six ramekins of it in the fridge, an easy to grab dessert or the main ingredient for incredibly indulgent porridge. This year, I’ve scaled back to make just enough for two portions. Two little ramekins to be enjoyed, hot or cold, on crisp blue days and drizzly grey ones alike.
I promise – I promise – there are recipes on the way that don’t involve pumpkin or spice mix. It’s October, and that means spices and variations of squash and soon, oh so soon, big mugs of mulled cider. I can’t help that I feel this way. Bear with me. Read More
I have a confession to make: I’m one of those really annoying people who just will not follow a recipe. I can’t help it. There’s creativity in my bones, and I’m drawn to changing things in an effort to make them even better.
So naturally, I couldn’t leave this apple cake recipe alone. It could have swum on through the internet, living out a successful life on the Pinterest boards of many, untouched by my meddling fingers. But thank goodness it didn’t.
Crumble cakes are kind of brilliant. After all, why only have a cake, when you can have the lovechild of cake and crumble? Sweet, comforting, warm apple cake, with the added crunch and zing of spicy crumble topping. I fully advocate adding crumble to normal foods, especially when it comes to creating a crumble/pie hybrid that’s sure to please those in both the Apple Crumble Camp and the Apple Pie Camp (it’s not just my family that’s divided on the subject, right?).
I also discovered it’s pretty good for helping to make friends with new neighbours who may or may not think you’re a little bit mad. My only advice would be to not ambush your neighbour, foiled package in hand, sporting post-baking hair and tracksuit bottoms, to force them to take said cake off your hands so you won’t eat it all. That might come across a little nutty.
But back to the cake. The recipe is loosely based on a crumble-less apple cake recipe from Smitten Kitchen, and will make two loaves.
Apple filling: 3 apples, cut into chunks
3 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
Cake: 2 3/4 cups plain flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup vegetable or sunflower oil
2 cups sugar
1/4 cup orange juice
2 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1) Toss apple chunks in sugar and cinnamon and set aside. Set oven to 180C.
2) Mix together salt, baking powder, and flour. In a separate bowl or jug, whisk together oil, sugar, juice, and vanilla. Add these wet ingredients to the dry, and mix well.
3) Add eggs one at a time. The mixture may seem like it’ll never come together. Stick with it!
4) To make the crumble topping, rub together the butter, sugar, and flour until you get a crumb consistency. Stir in the cinnamon and chopped pecans.
5) When the batter is thoroughly mixed, pour into your prepared loaf tin until about half full. Next, add a layer of apple chunks, and then another layer of batter to cover the apples. Finally sprinkle on the topping and bake for about an hour, or until a tester/knife comes out clean when inserted into the centre of the cake. If the topping starts to burn at any point, cover it with foil.
Although it’s delicious warm, this cake also keeps well and improves after a day – if it lasts that long!