Since moving to our new home, the garden has produced an overwhelming amount of courgettes. Not that I'm complaining, but it did get me thinking about how I could include them in more of my sweet bakes... as well as the children's dinners.
If you asked me a few months a go to recommend a courgette cake, I would have said a lemon courgette cake with a lemon mascapone topping - no hesitation. Now, my star courgette bake has to be my organic chocolate courgette cake. Truly a scrumalicious revelation!
I've made 3 variations this summer, for a friend's party with nuts and mixed spice - just like carrot cake, mixed spice works really well with courgette, but that's down to personal taste if you add it or not. For a 5 year old's birthday party with spice and no nuts. It does make me so happy to see children eat and love chocolate cake that is particularly healthy/healthier for them. Also, for a 30th birthday cake, with delicious toasted hazelnuts and no added spice.
Health Benefits Checklist: Courgettes = contain vitamin C, potassium and a good source of soluble fibre, so it stabilises blood sugar and insulin levels. Rapeseed Oil = low in saturated fats, high in good omega fats. Dark chocolate = high in antioxidants Hazelnuts = can reduce cardiovascular disease, full of monounsaturated fat, vitamin E and minerals such as copper and magnesium. No refined sugars
350g organic self raising flour 70g organic coco powder 175ml organic rapeseed oil (flavourless) 140g golden caster sugar 135g dark brown muscovado sugar 3 large organic eggs 2 tsp of vanilla extract 500ml of grated courgettes 140g toasted hazelnuts (roughly chopped)
Heat the oven to 180c/160c fan/gas mark 4. Line 2 x 20cm sandwich tins. Firstly, toast the hazelnuts in a dry pan over a medium heat until they start to turn brown and you can smell that amazing toasted hazelnut aroma. Then leave to cool. Grate the courgettes, then measure in a large measuring jug. Courgettes hold a lot of water (the bigger the courgette, the more water you get) so its essential that you squeeze and drain the excess water away as it effects the texture and rise of your cake. Some people use a paper towel to do this, others by hand, I like to use a potato masher and a sieve. Random, but effective!
I make my Vegetable Cakes Suffolk and Essex.
You'll now need two bowls. Shift together the flour and coco powder in one bowl, in the other, add the rapeseed oil and both sugars, with a hand mixer, whisk until well combined. Then add the eggs, one at a time, ensuring each one is mixed well before adding the next one. Then the vanilla and mix briefly.
In two parts, add the dry ingredients (flour & coco powder) to the wet ingredients. Once that's done, fold in the courgette and toasted hazelnuts. Divide the mixture between the two baking tins and bake for about 30-35 minutes (depending on your oven) or until a cake tester comes out clean. Allow to cool for about 10 mins in the tin, then turn out on to a wire rack and leave to cool.
As you can see from the picture in this post, I decorated mine in a rather tasty organic chocolate buttercream, but you can serve it like a sandwich cake and have cream and jam or chocolate icing/ ganache.
Have fun & enjoy!
P.s. If you would like to try the recipe with mixed spice added to it, measure 1 tsp and add to the flour and coco powder.