Friday, 13 December 2013

Courgette, Walnut and Spice layered cake

Now I know I've not posted in a long time but hopefully this recipe will make up for it! As well as going away on holiday throughout the summer months, working and now studying for A-levels I haven't really had time to think about baking, until this past weekend when my grandparents came round. I wanted to try something new, different to the typical 'Victoria sponge' or 'chocolate fudge cake',  so I dug out all my recipe books and decided on a recipe called 'cinnamon, courgette and walnut cake' in the Hummingbird Bakery book. Although the concept of a vegetable in a cake sounds unappealing I promise you it's the best way to get the most perfectly moist, yet not gooey consistency in a cake. The addition of courgette meant that there was no over-riding flavor and the cinnamon could really be the star of the show. This cake uses walnuts but pecan nuts would work just as well- perhaps with some cranberries mixed in, perfect for this time of year ;). Even if I do say myself, This. was. delicious. Need I say more.....

What you'll need (This recipe is from the book 'Cake Days' by hummingbird Bakery- truly great book that I would recommend to anyone!:

For the sponge-
3 large free range eggs 
300ml of sunflower oil
300g of soft brown sugar 
1/2 tsp vanilla essence (I used a tablespoon- gave a depth of flavour to the sponge)
300g of plain flour (gluten free rice flour would also work for those who avoid gluten!)
1 tsp of baking powder
1 tsp of bicarbonate of soda
2 tsp of cinnamon
1/2 tsp of ground ginger
1/2 tsp of ground nutmeg
300g peeled and grated courgettes
100g of walnuts, roughly chopped (I didn't use them in the cake as my mum's allergic, but they sure give a great texture)

For the frosting/ decoration-
240g unsalted butter, softened for about an hour before hand
1 1/2 tsp of ground cinnamon (plus extra for dusting)
1/2 tsp of vanilla essence (this wasn't in the recipe but I added it)
750g icing sugar
75g plain Greek yoghurt 
Plus 10-12 walnut halves for decoration 

You'll also need three 20cm (8 inch) diameter loose bottomed sandwich tins- else this cake ain't gunna happen ;)

Now this is long... but... here's the Method:

Preheat the oven to 170 degrees C (325 degrees F). Also line the bases of the tin with baking parchment.

Whisk together the eggs, sunflower oil, sugar and vanilla essence until well combined.

Next, in a separate bowl sift together all the dry ingredients (apart from walnuts). Add this to the previous mixture and beat well until well mixed together.  Then add the courgettes and walnuts and mix again.

Then divide mixture evenly between the three tins and bake for 35-40 minutes until golden brown- also check by inserting a skewer into the middle of each cake- checking it comes out clean. After cooling for 5 minutes, take them out of their tins and leave them to completely cool on a wire rack.

In the meantime make the frosting. Mix together the butter, cinnamon and icing sugar with an electric mixer. Keep mixing until the mixture is well incorporated and sandy in consistency. 

Then add the yoghurt and mix on a low speed until the frosting is light and fluffy.

Once the cakes have completely cooled place 3-4 tablespoons of frosting on the first layer of sponge, smoothing is out using a palette knife and adding more if needed. Repeat with the second and third layer stacked on top of each other. After the third layer cover the tops and side with the frosting until there's an even, smooth finish.

To add a decorative touch you can make a swirled pattern on the top of the cake (as shown below) with a small palette knife. 

Lastly dust with a little ground cinnamon and decorate with the walnut halves. 


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