I was at the BBC Good Food Show last week which in the summer runs alongside Gardeners World Live and it was in the Garden Talks tent that I met up with my old friend Jim Butress. We had spent many hours talking about every imaginable subject between takes on Big Allotment Challenge but one thing I could never explain to Jim was preserving. He just didn’t get it. And so whilst I learnt a great many things about gardening, cooking is still a mystery to Mr B.
We spoke, at the show, of gluts, that moment when you and all your friends, have vegetable plots burgeoning with produce and of how preserving those fruits and veg when they are young and fresh is a perfect way to store them for the coming winter.
So we moved on to courgettes, surely the most vexatious of plants as the more you cut, the more they come and when you have a superfluity you can bet your neighbour has one too. Jim asked what I’d do with too many courgettes and I suggested making a few jars of chutney and a batch of compost!
One other delicious way to use those extra courgettes is in this chocolate cake, where this somewhat watery, vegetable adds moistness.
This is a simple cake to make: weigh all the ingredients carefully, melt the chocolate then quickly combine everything making sure the batter is well mixed and bake.
At this time time of year, early June, I bake the mix as a loaf cake for picnics and packed lunches but it can be baked in sandwich tins and made into a layer cake, delicious filled with cream cheese frosting.
Chocolate and Courgette Cake
200g/7oz Plain Flour
1 tsp Baking powder
½ tsp Bicarbonate of soda
½ tsp salt
115g/4oz Caster sugar
170ml/6floz Vegetable oil
2 Large eggs, beaten
225g/8oz Firm young courgettes, peeled
170g/6oz Plain chocolate
60g/2oz Chopped walnuts
Grease and flour your chosen tins and preheat the oven to 180 C/360 F/Gas 4.
Sift all the dry ingredients into a large bowl. Beat the oil into the eggs.
Finely grate the courgettes, collecting any juice. Melt the chocolate in a bowl over simmering water. Mix the egg and the oil into the dry ingredients, and then add the chocolate and courgettes.
Stir to combine everything well, and then mix in the nuts.
Either divide the batter into two sandwich tins and bake for 25 – 30 minutes, or pour into a loaf tin and bake for 50 – 55 minutes.
The cake should be well risen and pulling from the sides of the tin. Remove from the oven, leave for 5 minutes, and then turn on to a wire rack to cool.