I made a life-changing cake-making discovery when I sprained my wrist the other week (it's loads better now, thankfully) as I needed to cook, freeze, bottle, bake and generally use up the glut of enormous fresh and delicious courgettes Magic Plot 7 is currently producing. Having found an old handwritten recipe for courgette cake a few weeks earlier I had, until the wrist-spraining fall, been trying it out, and making a few adjustments as necessary for my taste. I can't recognise the handwriting so I can't tell you who gave me the recipe, but it's a good one. It's been around for a few years now but I still meet people who wrinkle their nose at the idea of courgette cake, though courgette cake is delicious in the way that carrot cake is delicious.
But I digress. The life-changing discovery was born of necessity. I could not cream butter, eggs and sugar together by hand, nor could I painlessly fold in flour or grated, squeezed courgettes as my recipe advised because I'd sprained my wrist. I don't have a food mixer. What to do? I've used Nigella's "chuck it all in the food processor and blitz it" method before but only when using ground almonds instead of flour, particularly for her Chocolate Orange Cake. I knew that if I wanted cake I had to give it a go....
Recipe and method for minimum effort courgette cake
I did it all in the food processor. First I grated a big chunk of enormous courgette, probably the equivalent of 1-2 regular sized courgettes using the grater attachment and put it into a sieve to drain. Using the chopping blade attachment I put 75g soft butter, 75g caster sugar, the seeds from half a vanilla pod and a big tablespoonful of runny honey into the food processor and whizzed it up. I added the juice of half a lemon and gave it another quick whizz. My recipe told me not to worry if it curdles but it didn’t. To this I added the flour; the recipe asks for 190g self-raising but I only had plain which I used with a teaspoon of baking powder and a half teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda, and 2 tablespoons of natural yoghurt. Then I blitzed the lot until it was smooth.
I took the bowl off the machine and removed the blade, using a spatula to scrape off every last delicious creamy scrap. Then I went back to the pile of grated courgette and pressed it hard against the side of the sieve to remove as much liquid as possible. I know from previous attempts that the courgette needs to be super, super dry or the cake ends up too heavy and ‘claggy’ so I got a clean tea towel and tipped the squeezed, grated courgette into the centre, then gathered the four corners and started twisting, holding the tea towel over the sink as I watched in wonder at the enormous amount of liquid that kept flowing.
After folding the grated courgette along with 40g almonds (either chopped and roasted or flaked) into the cake mix I poured the whole lot into a greased and lined cake tin and put it into a preheated oven at 180° for about 45-50 minutes.
My recipe calls for a 900g loaf tin; I've done this cake in a loaf tin, and in 17cm loose-based and 22cm springform cake tins. The latter was by far the best.
While it was in the oven I made the icing, also using the food processor, by blitzing 25g soft butter with 150g cream cheese. To this I added 100g icing sugar and the zest of a lime together with one tablespoon of lime juice. I gave it another blitz. I wouldn't recommend making icing this way. It's too easy to overwork it and curdle the mixture but if, like me, that's all you've got you need to use very short, pulsing actions until it looks just right. It needs chilling in the fridge until the cake is cooked, cooled on a wire rack and removed from its tin. When the cake was completely cold I covered the surface with a thick layer of sweet, creamy icing.
|courgette cake and gargantuan courgette|
DELICIOUS!!! I probably ought to point out that the cake in this photograph has a diameter of 22cm and is sitting on a large dinner plate. The courgette is gargantuan.
For me the conclusion is simple - I love this method and I'll do it again. Cake-making with almost no effort! My worry was that it wouldn't incorporate enough air but it was a huge success. Since having a good, working kitchen with a decent oven I've rediscovered my enjoyment of cake-making and I bake a lot more. I'd love a good mixer but until I purchase one I see no reason not to use this food processing method for most cake mixes. I might even see what happens if you put the whole lot in - flour, sugar, butter, eggs - at once and just process it all in one go.
There will be plenty of chances to test it, particularly now that the great annual courgette cropping glut is here again. I would never have tried it without the injury which only goes to illustrate what I always try to keep in mind; that good things emerge from bad situations. And on this philosophical note all I can say in the signing off is "hurray for cake".
Love Courgette Cake