Tuesday, 31 May 2016

Courgette Cake

The other week I acquired 12 courgettes through no fault of my own.

I ordered a load of shopping from one of these supermarket delivery services. I was sorely disappointed. Not only did I not get the aubergines I ordered, but I also got 12 courgettes rather than the two I wanted.

"Big deal," you're thinking. "You got 12 courgettes for the price of two. That's a win."

Well yes, but I really hate waste. Food waste in particular. It's pretty much one of the seven deadly sins in my eyes.

So I determined to use every one of those courgettes. I made courgette risotto, roasted courgette, courgette hummus and courgetti spaghetti.

All my courgette creations were a success, except the courgette hummus, which was like eating a swamp.

But I still had one courgette and I was sick of savoury courgette recipes.

So I looked up courgette cake recipes, decided to make courgette cupcakes. Then realised I threw my cupcake tray away after it warped, so I decided to make cake instead.

It's not going to win any beauty contests, but it did not taste like a swamp, which is always what I look for in a cake. This serves four to six.

You will need:

1 egg
1 medium sized courgette
1 tbsp raisins
2 tbsp milk
1 tbsp sunflower oil
75g plain flour
15g light soft brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp baking powder
5-6 inch loose based cake tin

1. Preheat the oven to 200C. Grate the courgette and squeeze as much moisture out of it as you can. Then squeeze some more.

2. Whisk the egg, oil, milk and vanilla extract together. Fold in the courgette.

3. Stir in the flour, baking powder and sugar.

4. Spoon the mixture into the tin and bake for 20-25 minutes until golden and risen and a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean.

It is moist, tasty and one of your five a day. Next time I might sweeten it up a bit more with a bit of lime or lemon icing.

Happy baking,


Sunday, 15 May 2016

Peach Melba Squares

Every time I attend a bake sale, or any other event where multiple people have brought bakes goods, I look around for the cake that I wish I had baked.

Sometimes, if I'm lucky, it's the one I did bake. But this is rare and far more often I creep away with a slice of someone else's cake and try to work out how they made it.

We recently had a bake sale at work, to raise money for charity. I bought what turned out to be a peach melba square, a traybake with the taste and moist texture of frangipane and was studded with peach slices and raspberries oozing juice into the sponge.

Luckily, this time I didn't have to guess the recipe, because one of the editors, whose wife made the bake in question, directed me to the recipe.

It was really easy to make and cuts into about 15 pieces easily. What's not to like?

You will need:
250g unsalted butter
300g caster sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 large eggs
200g self-raising flour
50g ground almonds
1 tin of peach slices in juice, drained
100g raspberries
handful flaked almonds
1 tbsp icing sugar
pinch of salt
small roasting tin, about 30x20cm, greased and lined with baking parchment

1. Preheat the oven to 180C. Cube the butter and put it in a saucepan over a low heat to melt. 

2. Once melted, let the butter cool for five minutes and then add the sugar, vanilla and eggs and stir well to combine. Fold in the flour, salt and almonds and stir until smooth.

3. Tip the mixture into the prepared tin and lay the peach slices on top, evenly spaced. Scatter over the raspberries and flaked almonds - do not be tempted to press the fruit into the mixture slightly as it rises when baked and may cover the fruit.

4. Bake the traybake for 1 hour, covering with foil after 30 to 40 minutes to prevent too much browning.

5. Cool the traybake in the tin for 30 minutes and then lift out and slice into squares. Dust liberally with icing sugar before serving.

I forgot to dust this slice with icing sugar before I ate it. Sorry about that.

Happy baking!


Thursday, 12 May 2016

Goat's Cheese and Caramelised Onion Pizza

The pizza recipe I am about to share with you came about almost by accident.

It was invented in an attempt to use up an old jar of caramelised onion chutney, but it was so good, I had to buy another jar of chutney to make it again.

I was making pizzas for a party I was having a few days before my birthday.

The theme of the party was togas, so I thought it was only fitting that I should make pizzas. I had planned to make the pizza dough from scratch, but managed to go out for a run without my keys, meaning I was locked out of the flat until my long-suffering flatmate returned in the evening.

Luckily my long-suffering boyfriend was on hand to help and I ended up going to his house for a while. But without access to the kitchen for several hours, it was obvious I wasn't going to have time to make pizza dough.

So we bought six plain pizza bases at the supermarket and topped them with passata and various other things - roasted veg, artichoke hearts, posh ham, salami, feta - you get the idea.

But the triumph of the evening was the caramelised onion and cheese pizza, which was also sprinkled with walnuts.

So as soon as I had an opportunity, I made it again, making the dough myself and managing not to lock myself out this time.

It is really good. Tom (aforementioned long-suffering boyfriend) and I ate it in the park with roasted vegetables.

Although taking the pizza to work and then microwaving it made the base a bit soft and soggy, I can assure you it is very crisp when eaten straight out of the oven. Just be careful not to burn yourself!

The topped pizza also freezes well, if slid into the freezer on a plate or baking tray. When it's solid just take it off the plate or tray and clingfilm it.

The dough recipe makes enough for two small pizzas, but the topping makes enough for one, so double it if you're topping both pizzas at once.

You will need:

For the dough:
225g strong white bread flour
half a tsp dried active yeast
half a tsp salt
2 tsp olive oil
125ml warm water
base of 8 inch cake tin or baking tray that is 8 inches across

For the topping:
3 tbsp passata
3 tbsp caramelised onion chutney
180g soft fresh goat's cheese (preferably without a rind)
handful of walnuts, roughly chopped

1. Mix the yeast into the water, cover and leave for five minutes, then stir to dissolve. Mix the salt and flour together in a large bowl and make a well in the middle.

2. When the yeast has dissolved, stir the olive oil into the water and pour it into the well. Stir just enough flour into the liquid ingredients to make a paste, then cover and leave for 20 minutes.

3. Mix the rest of the flour into the liquid ingredients, then turn out onto a clean, lightly floured work surface and knead for about five minutes until smooth and elastic. Put in an oiled bowl, clingfilm the bowl and leave for one and a half to two hours until doubled in size.

4. Knock back the dough by pressing on it lightly until it deflates, then knead again until smooth. Roll it into a ball and put it back in the bowl. Cover and leave for 30 minutes to an hour until risen again.

5. Preheat the oven to 230C. Divide the dough into two equal parts and roll one part out until 8 inches across.

6. Put the rolled out dough on the baking tray or cake tin base and put the passata on top, spreading with the back of a spoon. Do the same with the chutney and then break up the goat's cheese and sprinkle it over the pizza.

7. Bake in the oven for 10 to 15 minutes depending on your oven and how crisp you like your pizza. Five minutes before the pizza finishes cooking, sprinkle the walnuts over.

8. Eat with roasted veg or a nice green salad.

This is so tasty, and such a simple recipe too. Just don't lock yourself out while making the dough.

Happy baking,