Friday, 31 August 2012

Vanilla Courgette Birthday Cake

I had a couple of things in mind for my next Clandestine Cake Club meeting (our theme was fruit and vegetables) but I didn't really want to make a carrot cake as I thought that was quite obvious. So I turned to a recipe book I knew wouldn't disappoint:

Red Velvet Chocolate Heartache by Harry Eastwood is a brilliant book with a bit of a twist; each and every recipe contains vegetables! From parsnips, to carrots, potatoes, turnips, butternut squash and courgettes.

I uhmmed and ahhhed about what to make and settled on the birthday cake, mainly because it kind of has both fruit and veg in it - courgette in the batter and raspberry jam in the middle!

Some people get a bit weird when you tell them you are baking courgette into a cake. It doesn't bother me in the slightest even though I am a really fussy eater, but it genuinely is a lovely cake. Really flavourful and moist (sorry, that is a horrible word!). I adapted the recipe quite a bit to suit me and what I had in my cupboards. I used 2 20cm tins and made a simple layer cake.

For the cake:
4 large free range organic eggs
200g caster sugar
400g topped and tailed finely grated courgette
220g plain flour
140g ground almonds
3 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt

Harry does quite a runny icing, which I didn't like the first time around so I have used a standard buttercream instead.

For the buttercream:
250g icing sugar (if I can't be bothered to sift it, I stick it in the bowl and whisk gently with a balloon whisk)
80g butter at room temperature
20ml milk
dash of vanilla extract

For the filling
200g jam - I use raspberry as it is my fave!

1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C, then grease and line your cake pans (I only ever line the bottom of mine and and just grease the sides).

2. Beat together the eggs and sugar for 5 minutes - they will turn pale and frothy. Carefully add your grated courgettes and beat until combined. Add the vanilla extract and beat until combined. Then add the flour, ground almonds, baking powder and salt. Beat until the mixture comes together.

3. Divide the batter between your pans and cook in the middle of the preheated oven for 20-25 minutes.

4. Cool the cakes in the pans for 10 minutes, then remove and place on a cooling rack until completely cold.

5. To make the buttercream beat the icing sugar and butter together slowly so it makes as little mess as possible. When it starts to come together, slowly add the milk and vanilla. Then beat on a medium-high speed for 5 minutes until light and fluffy.

6. To put the cake together, put the flattest layer on the bottom of your plate or cakestand. Neatly spread half of the buttercream on this layer, next adding a neat spreading of jam. Once happy with this, place the second cake on top. Spread the remaining buttercream on the top and decorate.

So here is the finished cake:

It went down really well and I've been asked for the recipe a couple of times already! Have you made a cake with vegetable in it? What veg did you use?

Monday, 27 August 2012

Oxford Foodies Festival

Unfortunately my first post isn't going to be a baking or recipe post - I've spent the weekend at the Oxford Foodies Festival!

This is the second year I've been and this years was bigger and better than the last! There are lots of different stalls, chef demonstrations, cookery shows and food trucks. For the last two years the main attraction for me has been the stall and demonstrations by Outsider Tart I absolutely love their creations and their book is amazing!

So what did I get up to this year....?

The first Master Class I went to was Joe and Sephs Gourmet Popcorn which was brilliant as they explained how they got started (apparently the founders used to travel to the USA regularly and always brought co-workers flavoured popcorn as a treat! The co-workers couldn't get enough, so they decided to create their own line!) We also got to try lots of flavours from Salted Caramel, to Goats Cheese and Black Pepper, to Toffee Apple with Cinnammon, and Whiskey Caramel Macchiato. They were all absolutely DELICIOUS!

Next, we saw David from Outsider Tart demonstrate how to make a Chocolate Pudding Cake (which we got to try!!)

I was so engrossed in getting to try his cake, that I forgot to take a picture. But it was a 6 layer (!!!!) chocolate cake with chocolate pudding in between the layers and covering the top and sides. It was then covered with cake crumbs. Afterwards I wandered along to the Outsider Tart stand:

They had lots to choose from: Whoopie Pies, Whiskey Brownie (which Mark bought, it was the best brownie I have ever tasted), Chocolate Cherry Cheesecake Brownie (which I chose!), Snickerdoodles and more!

After buying up some brownies we had a wonder round to look at some of the other stands which ranged from more cakes, to cheese, pies, bread, milk, dressings, sauces and so on.

This stand was run by The Little Round Cake Company and they had the most amazing meringues, tarts and individual layer cakes!

The Karantani Deli had a really amazing stall of savoury bakes, all of them looked incredible. I wish I had bought one of the savory strudels or muffins - the muffins were huge and packed with cheese and veg!

Some of my other favourite stalls were this bakery, the Gelato stand (we had Oreo and Mocha - both were lovely) and the Cheshire Cheese Company stall. They do the most delcious cheeses - we spent a fortune on them!

So our last stop of the day was to the The Backyard Company demonstration. I've seen the guys cook before and used their sauces which are incredible. I would really recommend trying them if you can track them down. Tony showed us how to use his sauces to create perfect Jerk Chicken.

This years Foodies was definitely done on a bigger scale than the last, but next year, if there is an event near you I would really recommend you go. It's really affordable - £18 for a three day ticket, but there are usually buy one get one free offers floating around. With the money you save on your ticket, you can buy more food there! You will spend a fortune!!

Claire x

Wednesday, 22 August 2012


Well, I thought it was about time I got a blog up and running. Lots of other people are doing it so I thought 'why shouldn't I?' so here I am!

It took a little while as my sister's awesome boyfriend made my ace header - isn't he clever?!

You can read a bit more about me and what I enjoy in the 'About Me' link, but my main reason for doing this is because I love baking and cooking. They are my favourite things to do. I love being in my little kitchen with the pink appliances, cupcake art and bunting everywhere. My only complaint is that I wish it was bigger and that I had a Belfast sink! Actually, I would also quite like a big American-style fridge!

Anyway I hope to share some of my baking with you, because I love seeing and reading about other people's. Below are a few pictures of things I've made in the past.

Claire x

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