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Monday, 24 September 2012

Sweet vegetable cakes

After pickling a fair bit of this year's beetroot harvest I had a sudden realisation that I could in fact be preserving my beetroot in another manner which can then be frozen for later consumption during winter. Cake form!

Beetroot Muffins

I came across this recipe last year and it sounded too good to be true. In fact, it is every bit as delicious, sticky and gorgeous as it sounds. Whilst I've given you the link (unfortunately only in metric and I don't see any way to change to even imperial measurements on the site), I do want to add some of my own notes to it.

Where it says 'Prep Time: 15 mins'. Ignore this. It's only 15 mins IF you have a minion who does all the prep for you. Just getting sticky golden syrup and treacle out of their respective tins, with a spoon, then needing another spoon to scrape the sticky stuff off, which then gets stuck on the 2nd spoon, and by this time all over your fingers, all the while you are actually trying to weigh out a particular weight of this sticky stuff, is 15 mins alone!

Do not bother with the liquidising the beetroot and ginger after you have gone to all the trouble of grating beetroot and chopping up the ginger! What on earth for? If you really want to have extra washing up of your food processor you may as well have liquidised the beetroot before grating. And the lumps of chopped ginger (I use crystalised) add an extra bit of zing.

The recipe says 'Makes: 12'. Now as far as I know, this is a UK site, not an American site. I know American sizings are huge, and I know the UK is rapidly catching on (after drinking a French cup of coffee (two sips) and then visiting the UK where you get about a gallon in a cup these days, I can see where the UK is heading...), but I used standard UK paper muffin cases and I made 22 of them out of this mixture!

There is absolutely no need to ice these muffins. That would be total overkill.

If you are reading this and have no idea what Golden Syrup is, I believe in the US the nearest equivalent is corn syrup, but according to an American foodie who I used to know in Brittany, it's not the same thing. Black treacle made by the same company is similar to molasses and that link takes you to Amazon who I didn't know were selling British food goodies to the US market. Oh well apparently you can buy it in the States after all though I feel that molasses would do equally well and is probably a lot cheaper! 

Beetroot Muffins

Chocolate Beetroot Brownies

Now this recipe comes from Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall of River Cottage TV fame (in the UK), and whilst I like these brownies, I don't think they are as good as the real thing. The real thing being without beetroot. However, it's fun to make once in a while but I did find these brownies were a bit on the crumbly cakey side and not as crispy outside, squidgy chewy inside as a proper brownie should be. Or it could just be me!

My annotations in italics.

"You can either grate or purée the cooked beetroot before adding to the mix - the latter gives a slightly more velvety texture. They work just as well with or without walnuts. Some people think that a brownie isn’t a brownie without walnuts, while others can’t stand them; it really depends on your personal preference. Makes 15 squares.

250g unsalted butter, cut into cubes, plus a little more for greasing
250g plain chocolate (about 70% cocoa solids), broken into squares
250g caster sugar
3 eggs
150g self-raising flour (we use wholemeal self-raising) (I don't)
100g broken walnuts (optional)
250g cooked and peeled beetroot, grated or puréed (I grate)

Preheat the oven to 170C/325F/ gas mark 3. Lightly grease a baking tin that’s roughly 20cm x 30cm in size and at least 2cm deep. Line the bottom with greaseproof paper and butter the paper, too.

Put the cubed butter and chocolate into a heatproof bowl. Place this on an oven tray lined with a baking sheet, and put in oven to warm up. After a few minutes, remove, stir, then return to the oven to melt completely. (Alternatively, melt the chocolate and butter in the conventional manner, in a bowl held over a pan of barely simmering water.) (Or even do it in a bain marie!)

In another bowl, whisk the sugar with the eggs until smooth and creamy. Stir in the chocolate mixture until well combined. Sift in the flour, stir, fold in the walnuts (if using) and beetroot. Pour into the prepared tin.

Bake for 20-25 minutes, until a knife or skewer comes out with a few moist crumbs clinging to it - be careful not to overcook the brownies. Remove from the oven, then stand the tray on a wire rack until cool enough to cut into squares."

Chocolate Beetroot Brownies

I now have half the brownies and muffins in the freezer after scoffing the rest. Obviously it isn't the ideal way to preserve your veggie harvest, as they won't really last that long in the freezer!

Courgette Cake

I love this cake because it is has interesting green flecks in it. I made it for some French friends who still talk about my green cake. The recipe was posted on a forum many years ago but I think whoever posted it got their quantities wrong, as half the amount they suggested makes one huge cake, therefore I had to halve the amount.

90g sultanas (golden raisins)
375g courgettes
3 large eggs
187 ml vegetable oil
225g caster sugar
337g self-raising flour or plain flour plus 6 teaspoons of baking powder
0.38 tsp bicarbonate of soda (I’m not sure why this is necessary and the strange amount comes from halving 3/4 tsp)

Wipe courgettes and grate without peeling. Sieve to remove excess water.

Cream oil and sugar and add eggs one at a time.

Add flour, bicarbonate, baking powder (if using plain flour) and mix well.

Stir in the courgette & sultanas.

Pour the mixture into a round cake tin and bake Gas mark 4, C180°, F350° for about one hour. 

I feel this cake is better iced, but I make a simple icing with just icing sugar and lime or lemon juice. This one didn't go in the freezer so we are working our way through it. It's not hard! (By the way, I had run out of sunflower oil so had to use olive oil, and it hasn't made any noticeable difference - I thought it may have been too heavy but it seems fine!).

'Green Cake' - Courgette Cake with lime icing

Finally, and I can't believe I'm doing this, but someone remarked how tidy my kitchen was in my last post about cooking and I would like to dispel this myth. I'm an 'every pan in the house' type of cook (just ask my OH) and have to use every work surface including the table. So here are some shots of what it normally looks like when I am baking:-)

Perhaps this view doesn't look too bad

That's cos half the mess is here!


  1. sorry, but that kitchen IS tidy lol.

    1. Hi Mrs Flibble - funny, a few other people said that too! :-)