I’m not the best person when it comes to veg. A bit of a fussy eater, and growing up a meat-based diet, eating vegetables seems a rather foreign concept. However, on a recent visit to Cox & Baloney I bravely sampled the courgette cake and discovered that perhaps I’d found a way to get in my greens, after all!
And so, without further ado, here are some cakes that are packed with delicious veggies, while also naughty enough to feel like a treat.
Sweet potato and pecan cake
Although originally sounding rather odd, the sweet potato adds a fantastic sweetness to the mixture and makes the cake lovely and moist. It is also at its best during the winter months! This cake is butter free and can be kept in the fridge for up to a week.
For the frosting:
125g full-fat soft cheese
300g icing sugar, sifted
100g soft butter
3tbsp dark maple syrup
For the cake:
175g sweet potato, peeled and coarsely grated
25g self-raising flour
150g light muscovado sugar
1tsp ground allspice
1tsp ground cinnamon, plus a pinch to decorate
150ml light olive oil
3 medium free-range eggs, beaten
125g soft pitted dates, roughly chopped
125g pecans, roughly chopped, plus extra to decorate
Heat oven to 180C/gas 4. Grease and line the base of two 20cm round cake tins. In a bowl, mix together all the cake ingredients with a spoon for 2 mins. Divide between the cake tins.
Bake for 25-30 mins until just springy to the touch. Remove from the oven, cool in the tins for 10 mins, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
For the frosting, stir together all the ingredients in a large bowl, then whisk with an electric mixer until light and creamy (about 5 mins). Chill for 30 mins.
Spread half the frosting over one of the cakes, sandwich them together and spread with the remaining frosting. Scatter with remaining pecans and dust with a pinch of cinnamon.
Rhubarb and orange cake
The sweetness of the rhubarb and the citrus from the orange marry together well in this delicious cake. Rhubarb may be a vegetable, but it’s oft been paired with fruits to make yummy desserts – and this is one of them.
400g rhubarb, thickly sliced
280g golden caster sugar
225g butter, softened
Finely grated zest and juice of 1 orange
225g self-raising flour
100g pack ground almond
1 tsp baking powder
3 medium egg
Small handful flaked almonds
Icing sugar, for dusting
Tip the rhubarb into a bowl and sprinkle over 50g of the sugar. Stir so the rhubarb is covered, then set aside for 30 mins to draw out some of the juices. Grease and line the base and sides of a 23cm loose-bottomed, round cake tin with baking parchment and heat oven to 180C/160C fan/gas 4.
Tip the remaining sugar, butter, orange zest and juice into a large bowl and beat with an electric whisk until well blended. Add the flour, almonds, baking powder and eggs, then beat again until smooth. Fold in the rhubarb and any juices. Spoon into the tin and level the top.
Sprinkle with the flaked almonds, then bake in the centre of the oven for 1 hr-1 hr 15 mins until risen, golden and a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Cover with foil if the cake starts to brown too much during cooking. Leave in the tin for 15 mins before removing and cooling completely on a wire rack. Dust with a little icing sugar before serving.
Chocolate courgette cake
The grated courgette gives this cake a really interesting flavour and a wonderfully moist texture. It’s super easy to make too – just mix, bake and ice!
350g self-raising flour
50g cocoa powder
1 tsp mixed spice
175ml extra-virgin olive oil
375g golden caster sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
500ml grated courgette – about 2 medium courgettes
140g toasted hazelnuts, roughly chopped
For the icing
200g dark chocolate, chopped
100ml double cream
Heat the oven to 180C/160C fan/gas 4. In a large bowl, combine the flour, cocoa powder, mixed spice and 1 tsp salt.
In another bowl, combine the olive oil, sugar, eggs, vanilla essence and grated courgette. Mix the dry and wet mixture until just combined, then fold in the toasted hazelnuts. Line a 24cm cake tin with greaseproof paper, then pour in your mixture. Bake for about 40-50 mins, or until a knife inserted into the middle comes out clean. Cool in the tin for 10 mins. Turn out onto a wire rack and leave to cool.
To make the icing, place the chocolate in a bowl and bring cream to the boil in a saucepan. Pour the hot cream over the chocolate and stir until completely smooth and melted. Leave the icing to cool slightly and thicken, then spread it over the cake so it’s covered and the icing starts to drip down the sides.
Cauliflower Apple Cake
While this recipe looks taxing, it’s really easy to follow, and most of the hard work is done by the food processor. The cauliflower adds a beautiful texture, and when put with the coconut, apples and white chocolate it has a fantastic flavour.
150g unsalted butter, softened, plus extra for greasing
150g cauliflower, in small florets
150g caster sugar
2 small Braeburn apples, grated
2 eggs, beaten
175g plain flour
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp baking powder
1⁄2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
50g desiccated coconut
1⁄2 tsp ground cinnamon
White Chocolate Buttercream:
75g white chocolate, chopped
150g unsalted butter, softened
175g icing sugar, sifted
1 1⁄2 tbsp whole milk
1⁄2 tsp vanilla extract
Preheat the oven to 180 ̊C, gas mark 4. Grease and line the base of a deep, 18cm loose-bottomed cake tin. Simmer the cauliflower in boiling water until really tender. Drain, run under cold water until cool, then pat dry.
Whizz the cauliflower in a food processor, scraping down the sides, until finely chopped. Pulse in the butter, sugar and apple. Gradually add the egg, pulsing between additions, before sifting in the flour, cinnamon, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and a pinch of salt. Pulse again, then fold in the sultanas and coconut until combined.
Spoon into the tin. Bake for 45-55 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Cool in the tin for 5 minutes, then completely on a wire rack.
For the buttercream, melt the white chocolate in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of barely simmering water, stirring until smooth; set aside to cool slightly. Using electric beaters, cream the butter until pale, light and fluffy (about 3 minutes). Gradually beat in the icing sugar, then the milk and vanilla. Stir in the melted chocolate until evenly combined.
Slice the cake in to two layers. Spread the base with 1⁄2 the buttercream, then top with the other layer of cake. Spread the top with the remaining buttercream.
Cucumber and Lemon Cake
On gloomy days we could all do with a bit of a boost, and what better than a refreshing slice of cucumber? In this cake cucumber is paired with the citrusy hit of lemon and topped with elderflower icing. The flavour combination is something you’d expect in a cocktail and perfect for those cold, rainy days.
200g cucumber (about half a cucumber)
Zest and juice of half a lemon
115g (1/2 cup) butter, softened
150g (3/4) granulated sugar
1½ teaspoons vanilla extract
150g (1⅛ cups) self raising flour
For the Elderflower Icing:
75g (1/3 cup) butter, softened
150g (1⅛ cups) powdered icing sugar
1 tablespoon elderflower cordial (or lemon juice if elderflower isn’t available)
Preheat the oven to 170C/325F. Lightly grease 2 x 7in sandwich tins or a 9inch round cake tin.
Leave the skin on the cucumber and de-seed it by cutting it in half lengthways and scraping the seeds out with a teaspoon. Cut into chunks and puree until smooth. Stir in the lemon juice.
Cream the butter, lemon zest, sugar and vanilla together for a few minutes until light and fluffy.
Add the eggs, one at a time, beating each one in well.
Stir in ⅓ of the flour, then add ⅓ of the cucumber and continue until it is all combined.
Bake in the preheated oven for 35 minutes. Allow to cool slightly in the tin and turn out on a wire rack to cool completely before icing.
For the Elderflower Icing:
Beat the butter, icing sugar and cordial together until smooth and fluffy. Keep in the fridge until ready to ice the cake.
Beetroot Cake with Orange frosting
Beetroot cake makes a lovely change from carrot cake! It has a lovely fudgy texture and if you want to make it in advance you can leave it undecorated in the fridge for up to four days, where the texture will just get even better! There’s no butter in this cake so it’s a nice, healthier option for tea and cake.
For the cake:
200g plain flour
¾tsp baking powder
¾tsp bicarbonate of soda
¾tsp ground cinnamon
¼tsp fine salt
50g soft dark brown sugar
125g light muscovado sugar
3 large eggs
½tsp vanilla extract
300ml vegetable or sunflower oil
225g raw beetroot, peeled and coarsely grated (approximately 3 medium beetroot)
Zest ½ orange
For the icing:
50g unsalted butter, softened at room temperature
100g icing sugar, sifted
Zest ½ orange
125g Philadelphia cream cheese
Orange zest, for decorating
Preheat the oven to 180 C, 160 C fan, 350 F, gas 4. Grease the loaf tin and line the base and sides with baking paper.
Sift the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda, cinnamon and salt into the bowl of an electric mixer. Add the sugars.
Beat together the eggs, vanilla extract and oil and pour onto the flour mixture. Beat the mixture until smooth. Add the grated beetroot and orange zest and beat again. Pour the mixture into the prepared tin and bake on the middle shelf for 40 minutes. Turn the oven down to 170 C, 150 C fan, 325 F, gas 3 and bake for a further 20 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean when inserted into the middle of the cake. Leave to cool for 10 minutes and then remove from the tin and cool on a wire rack.
To make the icing, beat together the butter, icing sugar and orange zest until smooth and creamy. Add the cream cheese and beat again until smooth. Spread the icing over the top of the cake and decorate with orange zest.
Give these cakes a try and see if your friends notice the secret ingredients without you telling them! Tell us how you got on below.