Intro: Courgette & Chilli Chocolate Cake (with Carob & Blackberries)
It's that time of year when courgettes flow from the earth like a tide of bubbles from an acid sea...
That meets chalk cliffs... You know, calcium carbonate + acid makes carbon dioxide bubbles, or something.
Anyway, yeah, about now we tend to get lots of courgettes (or zucchini I believe many of you know them as) all ready to eat at the same time. This recipe for delicious cake has evolved as one of our many coping strategies during this courgette surplus period. It also stems from repeated, and bitter, disappointment at the unspeakable dryness of so many externally beautiful chocolate cakes, as well as their evil sugaryness.
The courgette adds a moistness to the cake but doesn't really change the taste.
In the chocolate cake recipe presented here we also add chilli, blackberry and carob for some extra excitement, but these are all optional, you can use the base to make plain straight up chocolate cake. The same mixture can also be used to make really good muffins.
Step 1: Amass Your Ingredients
As mentioned, some are optional. See notes on each.
300g (2.7cups) White Self Raising flour. We have also had success with standard wholemeal flour, but if you don't use self raising add some baking powder (1-2 teaspoons) so it rises.
80g (0.7cups) Coco/carob powder. This can be 100% coco powder (let's call that be beginner level cake). We like the additional complex complex flavour of carob so use about 60g coco to 20g carob powder.
125-175g (0.6cups) Sugar. So we have been trying to reduce this (you know sugar is the lord of pain right?). Our experiments put a bit of a limit on it at 100g, after which people don't tend to identify it as cake and there are structural issues (though I still like it). So yeah 140g or more of sugar for the beginners cake, we went with 100g.
2 tsp bi-carbonate of soda and a pinch of salt. To help with raising.
30g Dessicated coconut. Optional - make for interesting textural addition. They act like binding fibres.
Small handful of cocoa nibs. Optional, can also use nuts or just leave it out.
100ml (0.4cups) Whole organic milk. Lets not start the pasteurisation debate now.
3 free range eggs.
350ml (1.4cups) melted coconut oil. You can also use vegetable oil (but not sunflower oil, it tastes funny) but it's different
A dash (1tsp) of vinila. Optional, not necessary.
The Ambiguously Wet-dry
One average sized courgette. About 400g in weight.
One fiery chilli pepper, or some chilli powder to taste - this is optional if you hate spicy food leave it out, no probs.
Approximately 30 ripe blackberries. Another optional ingredient, You could also use blueberries (though I don't see the point as blueberries always seem to get lost in cakes and muffins, why are they such a popular choice???) or my favourite choice raspberries, or some other zingy fruit. Raisins work well too.
Step 2: Equipment Check
Two mixing vessels
A scales - or some cups or whatever witchcraft unit measuring system you go by.
Measuring jug for the milk
A cake tin (or muffin cases - the same mix can make muffins).
Step 3: Measure and Mix the Dry Ingredients
Concrete is easier to mix when you mix the ballast and cement dry before adding the water (well unless it is all very dry, then the dust is unmanageable). Anyway, same principal, mixing the dry ingredients first means no clumpying so you can get them together with ease.
Weigh them out. Put them in your big mixing bowl. If you are being pro you can sieve them in. Keen enthusiasts just shove it in there, it's just the same ;)
Step 4: Mix the Wet Ingredients
Melt the coconut oil (put the jar in hot water for a while) if it is solid, and mix it up with the milk, 3 eggs and vanilla.
A whisk can be used, as can a wide variety of food processors and diy drill powered devices. A lowly fork will do fine too.
Step 5: Add the Ambiguously Wet-dry Ingredients
Time to get your grating freak on!
We use the course side of the greater to great the courgette on top of the dry mix.
Then the fine side to do the fresh chilli (you could also use chilli powder - which also works great for baking).
Be sure to scrape the inside of the greater to get it all out, most of the chilli will cling there. Then rinse your hands before you touch eyes or nose with chilli hand.
Add your chosen fruit - in our case blackberries.
Step 6: Making the Meta Mix
We are going to mix all the mixes by adding the wet mix to the dry and stirring it up.
It shouldn't take long, and a sturdy spoon is all you need.
Now check your consistency. It is a fairly runny batter for a cake, think slightly too sloppy brick and block mortar. a viscosity similar to thick pouring cream, or quite stiff vomit.
Taste a little bit like a pro, and smile! (assuming your not the ocd hygiene type - in that case spit that back out!)
Step 7: Prep You Cake Tin.
Grease proof paper and grease your cake tin. Observe illustrations.
Avoid using petrochemical derived grease - coconut oil works well.
Step 8: Pour and Heat
Time to reap the rewards of your mixing. Pour the mix into the tin!
Lick the mixing bowl clean...
Put the cake in the pre heated oven at 180C, 357F, gas mark 4.
Set an alarm for one hour (or less - see next step).
Step 9: Read the Prodder
If you oven is like ours, and the chances are it's not, check the cake after one hour and follow testing procedure. If its a fan assisted oven, turn the fan off. If you can't turn it off, check the cake after 45 minutes instead of an hour.
If you went for the muffin option, they will be done a lot quicker, check after 30 mins.
Don ppe (oven gloves), stand back and open oven. Hold face away from initial vigorous gas exhausting.
After initial off-gassing peek inside. Shake the cake tin with with oven glove. If it wibbles like jelly, leave it in the oven and re-start the checking procedure in 20mins.
If it isn't over wibbly remove and place on heat resistant surface and continue with prod test.
Prod the centre of the cake with wooden prodder (or sharp knife), if it comes away clean, it is done, leave to cool. If uncooked cake mix remains on your prodder replace cake in oven and repeat prod test in 10mins.
If the surface shows signs of burning, remove cake from oven and consult a qualified professional. Steaming is normal, but if on fire and visible flames can be observed then call for assistance and raise the alarm.
Step 10: Serving
Leave to cool, The longer you leave the more likely the cake will retain a fine and sturdy structure when you remove the tin. That said, if you are getting desperate and this whole affair is taking longer that expected, it is edible as soon as you can bear the temperature.
Once cooled, test a portion of the cake to check it for taste and yummyness. Be sure to have a representative cross section. If deemed suitable, serve delicious chocolate cake to friends and family.
I recommend telling them it is courgette chocolate cake after they have tried some as imprecise expectations of the taste can colour participants enjoyment.
See photos for some serving suggestions, and please do add your own pics and modifications below. We'd love to hear about your twists on this one.