Vegetable cakes

As I’m away from home at the moment I’ve been enjoying going through daughter No 1’s cookery books – a change is as good as a rest and all that. Current bed time reading has been Harry Eastwood’s Red Velvet Chocolate Heartache (Bantam Press, 2009) and though her prose is ridiculous in the extreme ( cakes are shy and have to learn how to handle attention, while scones can be a gang of happy, tired children with wild crimson cheeks and coarse woollen socks and shorts or alternatively they have something helpful and tidy about them…) the recipes are fabulous. Very infrequently do I find myself following a recipe in semi disbelief that it will ever work and yet rather excited at the same time (I think her prose style is infectious). But here are blondies and a chocolate cake with NO FAT of any sort unless you count the buttermilk and the ground almonds (although not including the icing which does have butter). The ground almonds are also praised for contributing to “Excellent Crumb” which is self evidently a good thing.

Harry Eastwood: Red Velvet and Chocolate (Bantam, 2009)

Harry Eastwood: Red Velvet and Chocolate (Bantam, 2009)

In place of butter Harry uses finely grated vegetables (in the case of these cakes butternut squash) which also give the cakes extra ‘fluff and moisture’. In fact Harry says these cakes are MORE MOIST (this is true )than those made with butter as butter stiffens back to its natural solid form when cooled back down after cooking. You also use less sugar as most of the vegetables used come with their own sugar. Rice flour gives the cakes a fluffiness and lightness of touch that doesn’t apparently come with plain flour. The only slight complaint I might make is that all that grating of vegetables means you need to allow a bit more time for preparation.

White chocolate, cinnamon and raspberry blondie  (From Harry Eastwood's 'Red Velvet Chocolate Heartache', Bantam 2009_

White chocolate, cinnamon and raspberry blondie
(From Harry Eastwood’s ‘Red Velvet Chocolate Heartache’, Bantam 2009

White Chocolate, Cinnamon and Raspberry Blondie

3 eggs

120 g caster sugar

250 g peeled and grated butternut squash

50 g white rice flour

100 g ground almonds

1 tsp cinnamon

2 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp salt

150 g fresh raspberries

100 g white chocolate in small pieces

30 g flaked almonds for the top

a little icing sugar for dusting

Preheat oven to 200 degrees C/180 degrees C for a fan oven/ 400 degrees F/gas mark 6.

Line base and sides of a medium sized tin with baking parchment (use a little oil to help the parchment stick down) and then v. lightly oil the parchment.

Beat eggs and sugar in a large bowl for 5 mins until pale and fluffy (“and quadrupled in volume- I mean a big bouffant hairstyle for this one!”) Add the grated butternut squash and beat again. Add the remaining dry ingredients and beat well.

Pour half the mixture into the prepared tin and scatter over it the raspberries and chocolate chunks. Cover with the remaining mixture.

Sprinkle the flaked almonds over the cake and cook for 25 minutes.

Cool in the tin for about 25 minutes, then sieve a little icing sugar (I didn’t do this) over before cutting into individual squares .

Light Chocolate cake from Harry Eastwood's 'Red Velvet Chocolate Heartache' (Bantam Press, 2009)

Light Chocolate cake from Harry Eastwood’s ‘Red Velvet Chocolate Heartache’ (Bantam Press, 2009)

Light Chocolate cake

3 eggs

160 g caster sugar

200 g peeled and grated butternut squash

120 g white rice flour

3 tbsp cocoa powder

80g ground almonds

1 tsp baking powder

1 tsp bicarbonate of soda

1/4 teasp salt

125 ml buttermilk


50 g unsalted butter, softened

200 g icing sugar, sieved

50g mascarpone

4 tsp cocoa powder

small pinch of salt.

Preheat oven to 180 degrees C/160 degrees C for a fan oven/350 degrees F/ gas mark 4

Line 2 x 18cm/ 7 ” loose-bottomed cake tins with baking parchment and brush under and over the parchment v. lightly with oil.

Whisk eggs and sugar for 4 full minutes until pale and fluffy. Beat in the grated butternut squash followed by the remaining dry ingredients. Add the buttermilk and beat again.

Pour mixture into both tins and bake for 30 minutes.

Remove from oven, remove from tin, take parchment off and leave to cool completely on a wire rack.

For the icing:

Beat the butter with 100 g of the sugar (“You will need to work them together patiently using the back of a wooden spoon” – I didn’t and wasn’t and it was fine).  When you have “a lovely rich paste”, beat vigorously for 10 seconds to loosen the butter even further, then add the mascarpone, cocoa powder, salt and the rest of the sugar. Beat until all are combined. Refrigerate the icing for 15 minutes (I didn’t and it was fine) and then give it a final beating before spreading it over the middle and top of the cake.

Note: We had no cocoa so instead I used commercial finely grated chocolate intended to be used as a drink. This is why my icing looks like dirty snow rather than dark brown chocolate.  I used less salt, less bicarbonate of soda and less baking powder than the recipes specified as I find one or other or both of the latter two give things a soapy taste. My cake still rose and was extremely light and moist.

Both the cake and the brownies kept well for about 3 days and were still lovely and moist. They may potentially keep fresh for longer in a less greedy household.

I am about to make Parmesan and Paprika Scones (also with butternut squash) which daughter No 1 has had before and I’m desperate to try using aubergines and courgettes in her recipes. The Coffee and Walnut Courage Cake (a carrot cake) is also apparently fabulous.

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  1. Posted September 25, 2014 at 5:29 am | Permalink

    These bakes look really delicious Mary. I had the book but found the writing style so irritatingly fey that the book ended up at the charity shop. Perhaps I should have overlooked that and tried some of the recipes……!

    • Mary Addison
      Posted September 25, 2014 at 10:18 am | Permalink

      I know what you mean and I don’t know that I would have bothered in the ordinary way of things. But my daughter had been given the book by a friend who had loved the recipes, had tried one of cakes (Coffee and Walnut Courage Cake made by said friend) and said it was really quite something. On parallel lines, I’d been getting more interested in making cakes from vegetables, so when I saw the book on the shelves, it seemed inevitable…I was surprised how much the cakes rose and it is true the texture is lovely. The chocolate cake was very good, but strangely the taste of the white chocolate got a bit lost in the blondies.

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