A few years ago, after admiring a tasty, moist cake made by a friend, I became the proud owner of a courgette cake recipe. I promptly filed it and never thought about it again.
This summer, at the end of an arduous(!) coastal hike, we stopped to buy refreshments from a small van in the harbour car park at Port Quinn. They were selling an eclectic variety of drinks and hot snacks, together with a selection of gluten-free cakes. One of these was a stunning looking ‘Courgette, Lemon and Poppy Seed’ cake. So I had some and it was heavenly. I love the rougher, heavier texture of gluten-free that alternatives like polenta and ground almond etc. give. The cake looked more complicated than I would typically make, but it seemed like a good thing to remember for entertaining.
Courgettes are wonderful. I grow a number of varieties every year and I love cooking them in just about any style you can think of, but now that I find myself stacking them high on the worktop (picked before they get too big for my liking), it occurred to me that I could give a courgette cake recipe a go.
I found a Riverford Organics recipe for precisely the Courgette, Lemon and Poppy Seed cake I enjoyed at Port Quinn, I think. I adapted it slightly, since I didn’t think the poppy seeds added that much (and I didn’t have any). Plus, since it already includes almonds giving it the texture I like, so I used ordinary self-raising flour here, not gluten-free. Otherwise, this cake was their recipe:
The almond and lemon flavours are wonderful together and the courgette makes the whole thing deliciously moist*. It got thumbs up all round with the family, so I will be making it again!
*One tip is to squeeze any excess water out of the grated courgette before adding it to the mixture to avoid the cake being too moist.
There are many alternative courgette cake recipes. I like the almonds in this, but if you aren’t considering the gluten-free aspect, then both Nigella Lawson and Nigel Slater have cool looking variations for courgette cakes that you could take a look at.
Here’s the Riverford recipe in case the link disappears:
Ingredients for the cake:
2 tbsp poppy seeds
Finely grated zest of 2 lemons
75ml whole milk
250g unsalted butter, plus a little extra for greasing the tin
250g light brown soft sugar
4 eggs, yolks & whites separated
½ tsp almond extract
200g gluten-free self-raising flour
75g ground almonds
250g grated weight of courgettes
Ingredients for the topping:
300g icing sugar
1½ tsp finely grated lemon zest
30g unsalted butter
2 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp poppy seeds
- Preheat your oven to 180˚C.
- Lightly grease a 23cm springform cake tin and line with baking parchment.
- Warm the milk, poppy seeds and lemon zest in a small pan for a couple of mins, then remove from the heat and leave to cool.
- Cream the butter and sugar in a large bowl until pale, light and fluffy. Beat in the egg yolks, one at a time.
- Stir in the almond extract, flour and ground almonds.
- Fold in the courgettes and cooled milk. Whisk the egg whites in a separate clean bowl to stiff peaks.
- Add a large spoonful to the courgette mixture and stir in, then gently fold in the rest, keeping as much air in the mixture as possible. Pour into the tin.
- Bake for approx 60 mins, depending on your oven, until firm to the touch; it should spring back when you lightly press the middle.
- Cool in the tin for 15 mins, then turn onto a wire rack to cool completely. To make the icing, sift the icing sugar into a bowl.
- Add the lemon zest. Melt the butter and pour over the icing sugar.
- Add the lemon juice and stir together quickly, adding a splash of cold water if needed, until you have a thick but spreadable icing.
- Use a pallet knife to spread over the cake.
- Leave for approx 30 mins if you can, so the icing can set a little, before serving sprinkled with poppy seeds.