Summer fruit bread
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Our American cousins have some odd culinary predilections. Take one of their best loved snacks — peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. The jelly in question is actually jam, but even so…
So it was with some scepticism, not to say trepidation, that I decided to try an equally popular and unlikely — if not downright weird-sounding — combination: courgette cake. Known in its home country as zucchini bread, it is actually a quick-bread. The courgettes (zucchini) are meant to play the same role as carrots do in carrot cake, adding little taste but plenty of moistness to an otherwise fairly ordinary batter that also happens to be nutritious.
Which brings me to my ten-year-old, and the reason for my interest in courgette cake. Like most little boys, he loves cake, of course, and like most little boys, he would rather endure three hours of Hebrew homework than eat a courgette.
Well, I’m happy to report that courgette cake (or summer fruit bread, as I now like to call it) is truly delicious. It’s moist, tender, and not the least “courgettey”. And my son adores it. I can’t but kvell as he wolfs down a snack that’s made with vegetables. Now, where did I put that recipe for turkish spinach cake?
Preparation: 15-20 minutes.
Cooking: 45-55 minutes.
Store at room temperature in a plastic container 3 days. Freeze 2 months.
Cook’s notes: If you have a particularly picky eater, peel the courgettes before grating so there are no tiny flecks of green in the finished bread. Instead of the demerara topping, you can cover the finished cake with cream cheese frosting à la carrot cake (add lime juice and soured cream for a delicious tang).
- 225g (8 oz) plain flour
- 85g (3 oz) white bread (strong) flour
- pinch salt
- 1 rounded teasp cinnamon
- ½ teasp mixed spice
- 1 teasp baking powder
- 1 teasp bicarbonate of soda
- 350g (12 oz) caster sugar
- 2 eggs
- 4 tbsp natural or apricot yoghurt
- 80g (3 oz) melted butter
- 1 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1 teasp vanilla extract
- 115g (4 oz) dried mixed fruit
- 450g (1 lb) courgettes
- 1-2 tbsp demerara sugar (optional)
- Preheat the oven to 190°C (375°F, gas 5). Oil a standard (23 cm long) loaf tin.
- Mix the dry ingredients together in a bowl.
- Whisk the eggs, yoghurt, melted butter and juice in a separate bowl.
- Grate the courgettes with a food processor or hand grater (see note about peeling).
- Squeeze as much liquid out of the grated courgette as you possibly can, either by twisting it in a cheesecloth or tea towel, or by pressing it in a sieve with the back of spoon (I find the first method easier.) Do this over a bowl if you want to use the vitamin-rich liquid which comes out for soup or stock.
- Add the courgette and dry ingredients to the egg mixture, mixing gently until just blended.
- Turn into the prepared tin and sprinkle with the optional demerara sugar.
- Bake for 45 minutes, then insert a skewer or cake tester into the centre. If the batter clings to it but the top of the cake is brown, reduce the heat to 180°C (350°F, gas 4) and bake for a further 10-15 minutes or until the centre is completely cooked.
- Transfer to a cooling rack. When the tin is cool enough to handle, loosen the sides of the cake and turn it out a on to cooling rack. Leave until cool before cutting.