Tuesday, 9 August 2011


What to do with your surplus courgettes? That was a problem that burdened our household year after year, when I was a lad. My dad truly had the green fingers and we were inundated with the blessed things each late-summer (courgettes that is, not fingers!). 
Instead of being a time to enjoy the summer break, each mid-August arrived as an oppressive and burdensome period where an over-production of courgettes caused problems in terms of their harvesting and storage. 
It particularly hit my mum hard each year – difficult for her to take – as she was more a cucumber, celery and cheese salad kind of person – with perhaps a few radishes thrown in for good measure. Then she had a brainwave to end all brainwaves! She loved to bake cakes – so why not a courgette chocolate cake? Sounds disgusting? – it tastes even worse!– but this is her recipé, according to her well-thumbed cookbook – owing more to Mrs. Beeton than Nigella Lawson...
  • 350g self-raising flour – gluten-free flour with 2tsp of baking powder is fine as an alternative
  • 50g cocoa powder (use a good quality cocoa powder)
  • 1tsp mixed spice
  • 175ml extra-virgin olive oil (or almond oil for a lighter flavour, if preferred)
  • 375g golden caster sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 2tsp vanilla extract
  • 500ml grated courgettes (roughly 2 medium sized courgettes / or one overgrown) – peeled and de-seeded. Do make sure that the courgettes are firm and therefore less likely to go mushy when cooking.
  • 140g toasted hazlenuts, coarsely chopped – or chopped walnuts / pecans if preferred.
  • 1.5tsp baking powder (optional)
  • 200g dark chocolate, chopped and 
  • 100ml double cream
1. Heat the oven to 160/180oC - equivalent to fan/gas mark 4 (moderate oven temperature). In a large bowl, combine the flour, cocoa powder, mixed spice and 1tsp 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 70-80mins (this depends on the wetness of the courgettes), or until a knife inserted into the middle comes out clean. Cool in the tin for 10mins, then turn out onto a wire rack and leave to cool.

2. 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.
Serve with a cup of tea or enjoy as a pudding with a spoonful of clotted or ice cream. Yummy!

Crown Inn
Church Street,
Nottingham, NG9 1FY
Tel. 0115 925 4738

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