Posts Tagged ‘Courgettes’

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Sharing the Love

November 9, 2010

I’m under no illusion about the reasons behind my baking, there is absolutely nothing altruistic in my providing treats for those around me. It is a fair and equal exchange between me, the baker, and those that receive the finished goods (bakee?).  If I didn’t live near such lovely people, or work with those whose company I enjoyed, I would bake far, far less. Or weigh far, far more. But I’m lucky. I have good neighbours, friends and colleagues and they enable me to indulge in my hobby and I know that they are lovely people, whose company I enjoy through, my baking.

The rewards extend beyond the pleasure I get from the recipe books I hoard, the planning and baking and even beyond watching others enjoy what I have created; my relationships with neighbours especially, have developed in part because I needed people to offload the products of my kitchen onto, which in turn has led to some good friendships.  At work, the baking provides a framework for connections and small talk, leading what can be odd office dynamics to develop into something more genuine.

Last week a colleague shared with me more apples from her garden, these apples have been a real bonus and  have provided a wonderful autumnal theme to recent baking sessions. I won’t repost the recipes in full, but this weekend I took the latest batch of apples and made a stock of apple sauce as per Deb’s recipe on Smitten Kitchen. Most went into the freezer for future use, but one batch was saved for Sunday’s pre-dawn (I’m looking forward to spring already) baking session and her Spiced Applesauce Cake. I didn’t bother with the frosting and I really don’t think it needs it. It’s so easy to bake and only takes 35 minutes in the oven, there’s a tartness and moistness from the applesauce that I really enjoyed especially against the toasted nuts.

If you read here with any regularity you’ll know my affinity for courgettes and spotting Nigel Slater’s cake that combined the two was the highlight so far of his latest book.

This is a wonderfully easy cake to make, and the moistness from the courgettes and apples are offset by the crunch of the nuts. I used a mixture of walnuts and pecans and you could play around to your heart’s content with the nuts and dried fruit combinations. Having baked so much recently from American recipes the ‘pinch’ of cinnamon seemed overly cautious, and you could add nutmeg or mixed spice quite happily I think. I hint of citrus might not have gone amis either, the zest of an orange would do wonders to lift it slightly – perhaps judge on the tartness of your apples? I would avoid any juice as additional liquid content might cause problems with the water from the courgettes and apple (top tip only discovered after I’d made this, so I can’t vouch for its effectiveness is to put the apples and courgette in a salad spinner to remove the excess water – might have to make this cake again to try it out – let me know if you use this method).

So, whilst autumn makes its presence known with the reversion to GMT and leaf-blocked guttering, step into your kitchen and bake this to share with your family and friends. Or perhaps make new friends and connections by wrapping up to give to neighbours and colleagues.

A Cake of Apples and Courgettes

Nigel Slater; Tender Vol II

200g butter

200g caster sugar

2 large eggs

150g/2 small courgettes

1 small apple

200g plain flour

Pinch of salt

1/2 tsp baking powder

Pinch of cinnamon (be generous)

60g pecans, roughly chopped

60g sultanas

Preheat the oven to 180C and prepare a 20cm x 12cm x 9cm loaf tin (I doubled quantities and made several smaller loaves – all the better for sharing and also gave me chance to try out the tin liners from Lakeland)

Cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy – about 5 mins in a stand mixer

Combine the flour, baking powder, salt and cinnamon in a medium bowl

Beat the eggs and add slowly to the butter and sugar mixture

Coarsely grate the apple and courgettes (I used a processor – far quicker and less messy, especially if you have juicy apples) and then squeeze in a clean tea towel to remove excess water

Fold the courgettes and apples into the mixture then slowly add the flour mixture until just combined

Add the nuts and sultanas, scrape the batter into the prepared tin and bake for oner hour or until it is golden and firm to the touch.

Allow to cool in the tin

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Many Muffins

June 9, 2010

I’m enjoying this recent spate of muffin baking I’m on. As much as I adore my Kitchen Aid there’s something to be said for the ease with which a batch of muffins can be brought together. I also seem to be braver when it come to adapting recipes, something about the end result being distributed amongst 24 paper cases rather than the trepidation of all those ingredients going into the one bundt tin. The reduced baking time can be a bonus (although doesn’t quite leave enough time to clean the bathroom -thank god for portable kitchen timers) as is the reduced cooling time and the fact that they’re perfect for easy distribution. All of which mean that there’s time to whip up a batch before work in the morning rather than having to wait until the weekend in order to allow enough time for prepping, baking and cooling.

For a basic, and adaptable, muffin recipe I found this from Joy of Baking. I was going to play around, but then remembered the packs of blueberries in the freezer and used them straight off. The feedback was great and I really can’t stress how quick and easy it is. The important thing about making muffins is not to over mix the dry ingredients into the wet. A full explanation of why can be found on the link above, but 10-15 ‘stirs’ should be enough to incorporate the flour, you may still have the odd dry clump and streaks of flour, don’t worry!

I recently adapted Dorie’s Carrot Spice Muffins recipe to good effect, I think, starting with substituting courgettes for the carrots (I do love my courgettes). I worried, as I was counting out those ten to fifteen stirs, that there perhaps weren’t quite enough raisins or walnuts in the batter mix. But, the muffins were delightful with some bites delivering a nutty crunch, another the sweet taste of dried fruit with the hint of spice and moistness from the courgettes throughout.





Courgette Spice Muffins
Adapted from Dorie Greenspan’s Carrot Spice Muffin Recipe

Makes 24 muffins

300g plain flour
300g wholemeal flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
3 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ginger
1/2 tsp mixed spice
1/2 tsp salt
120g light muscavado sugar (or light brown)
150g caster sugar
1 1/3 cup oil
4 large eggs
1 1/2 cups buttermilk
2 tsp vanilla
2 cups grated courgettes
50g raisins
50 sultanas
75g chopped walnuts
zest of a large orange

Preheat oven 190C
Grease or line muffin tins

Mix flours, spices, bicarb and baking powder in a large bowl
Add sugars, mixing so there are no lumps
In a large mixing bowl or jug whisk together eggs, oil, buttermilk, vanilla and orange zest
Add in the grated courgette and combine well
Pour wet ingredients into dry and stir until just combined, do not over mix, the mixture will be lumpy and there may still be traces of flour visible
Fold in the dried fruit and nuts and fill each muffin case nearly full
Bake for 20 minutes, transfer the tins to a cooling rack for 15 mins before removing the cases from the tins and allowing to cool completely

We’ve been really lucky recently with the weather, a recent glorious weekend coincided with the local monthly farmers market. I stocked up on rhubarb so I could make more compote for my breakfast. Another recent obsession, I don’t have a recipe as such, just chop, add to large pan with juice and zest of orange, vanilla pod, couple of chunks of ginger and some sugar. How much sugar? I like my rhubarb sharp, especially as I usually combine it with yoghurt and the sweet early British strawberries that are to be found right now. Clotilde from Chocolate and Zucchini recommend using 10% of the net weight of rhubarb used which sounds like a good tip. Cook the whole lot for 15 mins. Remove ginger and refrigerate when cool – delicious.

But back to the baking. As with any seasonal ingredient the blogs are filled with recipes meaning inspiration isn’t hard to find. As usual I was overwhelmed by choice but in the end I adapted the Rhubarb Strawberry Pecan Loaf from Smitten and it was divine. The only problem was the muffins that I set aside to take into work on Monday morning were so moist they bordered on mushy. They still tasted divine but these are definitely ones best eaten on the day they’re baked. There are a couple of comments on the original recipe about the moistness of the loaf and I can’t imagine how you would slice it, but the muffins meant this wasn’t a problem.


Rhubarb Strawberry Pecan Muffins
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen

Makes 24 Muffins

230g Light muscavado sugar (or light brown sugar)
117g oil
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
187g plain flour
187g wholemeal flour
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1/2 cup buttermilk
450g chopped rhubarb
345g sliced strawberries
75g chopped pecans

Preheat the oven to 180C
Grease or line muffin tins

Beat together sugar, oil, eggs and vanilla and buttermilk
Combine flours, bicarb and salt
Add dry to wet and stir until just combined
Fold in fruit and nuts and distribute between the muffin cases
Bake for 15 – 18 mins
Transfer tins to cooling rack and leave to cool in the tins for 15 mins before transferring the cases to the rack to cool completely

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Early Morning Sunshine

May 1, 2010


The glorious weather of late April has mostly vanished, unsurprisingly, in time for the bank holiday weekend. But I can let you into a little secret … if you wake just before dawn – open your eyes as the birds are starting to stir and the sky begins to lighten – then by the time you are sat with that first coffee of the morning and are awake enough to appreciate it – the sun will be shining in a gloriously clear sky. Chances are it will be gone by 8am when most are rousing themselves for the start of the long weekend, but one of the compensations of waking so early every morning is seeing that early morning sun. No matter how wet and windy the recent days have turned out to be I have had some early alone time with the sun which goes a long way to lifting low spirits.

Another highlight of my day has been checking on my seeds. My previous attempts at ‘gardening’ usually extend only as far as placing bought pots of blooming hydrangeas around my garden, enjoying their mop-headed beauty before butchering them at the end of the season with the secateurs, a pruning from which they never quite recover. My small garden is littered with lopsided, near-corpses from previous years. To date the thing I am most proud of in my garden is not killing the poppy and christmas rose that were already established when I moved in ten years ago. I have, however, been seduced by the BBC2 series ‘Edible Garden’ something about the programme made growing my own veg, from seed, seem possible. Whilst part of the attraction of the half hour slot is coveting Alys Fowler’s beautiful garden – and wondering why I can’t manage to pull off the wearing of wellington boots in quite the same way – the big draw for me is the flexibility she conveys in how and what you can grow in a limited space. By choosing the right varieties, or just harvesting early, the smallest of spaces will hopefully provide some ingredients for my kitchen.

One thing I knew I wanted to grow was courgettes, I hope for a glut so I can bake with them, grate and add to my porridge, I’m also hoping for beetroot – again for the baking possibilities. There are radish which I hope to nibble on and I am hopeful for dwarf beans and kale. All have germinated so far, other than the beetroot which are being a little shy and the chili seeds. There’s still time. It’s all quite exciting.

So, early Saturday morning, with the earliest morning sun shining on my my seeds, me feeling so proud (and more than a little grateful that the cat hasn’t watered the trays too) I aimed for the perfect morning by baking. I had bookmarked an Orange Marmalade Tea Cake back in February from Deeba’s blog ‘Passionate about Baking’ which is one of my favourite sites. Her photo’s are stunning and whilst I couldn’t hope to recreate most of what she does in terms of presentation and styling I had all the ingredients for this cake.

I made made a few changes to the recipe Deeba lists, which she herself had adapted, I used half wholemeal flour and reduced the sugar as well as adding a little ginger. I also doubled the quantities listed for a loaf cake as I had plenty of courgettes and went with muffins for easier distribution (and less washing up). Deeba used some, no doubt stunning, homemade bitter orange marmalade and the run of the mill jar I had handy could’ve done with being a bit tarter, perhaps some additional zest would’ve added a bit more zing. If you’re going to make this and buy marmalade specifically for it I would go for a sharper variety with decent chunks of orange rind, I might even make again with a smattering of stem ginger. As they are below they are so light, with each bite offering a slightly different taste or texture due to the distribution of the orange, walnuts and chocolate chips. In honour of the hour when these were baked I have rechristened them…


Sunshine Muffins

Makes 16 muffins or 2 5″ x 9″ Loaves

262g plain flour
262g wholemeal flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp ground ginger
2 tsp vanilla extract
500g grated courgettes (approx 4 small)
1 cup / 375g marmalade (approx one jar)
250g caster sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
4 large eggs
1 cup toasted and chopped walnuts
1 cup chocolate chips

Preheat your oven to 175C and line muffin tins with papers
Mix together the flour, baking powder, bicarb, salt and spices.
Mix all the other ingredients, except the walnuts, in a large bowl until combined , making sure there are no large lumps of marmalade.
Sift the dry ingredients into the wet
Stir in the walnuts then fill the muffin cases to just over 3/4 full each (I used a 1/4 cup measure, the muffins don’t rise that much)
Bake for 25 minutes until the tops are starting to brown and are firm to the touch, or until a skewer comes out clean.


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Have Courgettes – Will Bake (and make breakfast)

October 22, 2009
I’m not a fan of courgettes, they were a staple of my student years, added to every stir fry, pasta sauce or bake that a limited student budget could conceive. There was also a scrumptuous courgette cake, sweet and moist from sultanas, filled with tart lemon curd and topped with cream cheese this was oft requested for special occaisions, but I’d stopped making it years ago.
A trip to the monthly Moseley Farmer’s Market in late summer coincided with lots of inspiration from other blogs and I bought lots. Unfortunately having them in my fridge exerted some kind of pressure on my psyche and I couldn’t bring myself to bake that weekend. However, I did discover a recipe for Zucchini Bread Oatmeal from Diet Dessert and Dogs and gave that a try the next morning – what a revelation! I have porridge every morning, I make up my own mix using Rude Health fruity date porridge as a base and adding my own mix of seeds, a bit of extra oat bran and germ , a little more cinnamon with a mixture of water and semi-skimmed milk. I didn’t think some grated courgettes would add much to the flavour, but it really is delicious – go on, try it.

The addition of a bit of grated courgette in my breakfast wasn’t going to make much of a dent in the enormous specimens occupying the drawer at the bottom of my fridge so I went through the recipes I’d flagged and came up with two that I thought would put them to good use.
The Chocolate Zucchini cake from Simply Recipes is one Elise adapted from the appropriately named Chocolate and Zucchini and I toggled between the two recipes and mine is an amalgam of the two. It’s not the prettiest and is predominately a chocolate cake but with a lovely moistness that comes from all that veg. No one at work believed that there were courgettes in there, but all enjoyed it.
Chocolate Zucchini Cake
Adapted from Simply Recipes and Chocolate and Zucchini
Ingredients
  • 1 1/2 cups of plain flour
  • 1 cup wholemeal flour
  • 1/2 cup cocoa
  • 2 1/2 Tsp baking powder
  • 1 1/2 Tsp bicarbinate of soda
  • 1 Tsp salt
  • 1 Tsp cinnamon
  • 3/4 cup soft butter
  • 1/2 cup caster sugar
  • 1 cup soft brown sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 Tsp vanilla extract
  • Grated zest of one orange
  • 2 cups coarsely grated courgettes
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 100g chocolate chips (I used dark chocolate)

I didn’t bother with a glaze but there’s one should you wish to add it.

Method
  • Heat Oven to 350F
  • Mix the flours, cocoa, baking powder, bicarb, salt and cinnamon
  • Beat the butter and sugars until smooth
  • Add eggs to butter and sugar beating well
  • Stir in vanilla, orange zest and courgettes
  • Add the flour mixture and the buttermilk in three batches
  • Spoon into a greased and flour coated bundt pan and bake for 45 minutes until a skewer comes out clean – if you don’t have a bundt tin, firstly get one because they are great, secondly this mixture should make two loaf tins, check after 30 mins.
  • Cool for about 15 mins in the tin before turning out to cool completely on a rack
To contrast the safe, hidden (but delicious) use of the courgettes in chocolate cake recipe enough I also made Special Zucchini Bread from 101 Cookbooks. I adored this, the combination of spices, citrus, nuts and ginger was just delicious, the texture too was so moreish, a little something different in each mouthful. I used soft brown sugar I left out the poppy seeds as I didn’t have any but I did have a jar of Raz el Hanout so used that, as suggested, in place of the curry powder. The smells from the oven while this was baking were amazing, and whilst it was cooling I spent a fair amount of time picking off bits of toasted walnut to eat – just to check you inderstand. Pop over to the site for the recipe – you won’t regret it.