This summer my garden has been looking less than abundant. With this heatwave and ongoing draught I limited watering the plants to just the few that I’ve been eagerly expecting to yield fruits and vegetables: the wineberry bush, the orca beanstalk, the butternut squash plant and the courgette plant. Scorching temperatures or not, though, with a little help the last has been treating me all summer long to beautiful blossoms and one fruit after another.
Needless to say, we eat a lot of courgette these days. In savoury form, as in my much requested risotto stuffed courgette with fried basil and courgette flowers, as courgette ribbons with roasted red pepper sauce, or in oven-roasted veggie salads. But did you know it also works wonders in bread and sweet dishes? And one of my favourite ways to use up this garden glut is by turning it into yummy moist and crumbly lemon and courgette cake.
Before the start of the summer holidays I baked this cake as our contribution to the end of school picknick. When I asked my eldest to write on a card what it was, she hesitated. “Are you sure? Not everyone is all that adventurous when it comes to sweet treats and if you tell people there’s courgette in their cake, no one may want to eat it.” I told her to do it anyway, because people with a nut or dairy allergy should know they could safely take a piece. Ten minutes after the start of the picknick I discovered that every last crumb of the cake was gone, long before any of the other treats.
In all honesty, I could have seen that coming, because this courgette cake is just delicious. It’s sweet-but-not-too-sweet, gently spiced and citrussy, airy and nicely moist as a good cake should be. I may have gone a little overboard with the amount of raisins used. I soaked them in hot Earl Grey tea before baking, which made them so sweet and delicately bergamot flavoured I decided to just chuck them all in.
So if you have a garden glut that needs to be used up, this recipe’s for you. And if you don’t, it’s perfectly excusable to head to the store and pick up some courgettes especially for this one.
Happy summer baking!
Courgette cake with lemon and bergamot flavoured raisins – yields 9 generous and 16 small servings
- 140 g sultanas
- 2 tsp. Earl Grey tea leaves, or 1 tea bag
- 1 flax egg (1 tbsp. ground flax seeds + 2½ tbsp. cold water)
- 350 g courgette, coursely grated over a clean tea towel or a sheet of firm kitchen paper
- 4 tbsp./65 ml plantbased yogurt
- 130 ml rapeseed oil or sunflower oil
- zest of 1 lemon, finely grated
- 2 tbsp. lemon juice
- 300 g all-purpose flour
- 100 g dark muscovado sugar
- seeds from 1 vanilla pod
- 2 tsp. cinnamon
- ¼ tsp. nutmeg
- 1½ tsp. baking powder
- 1 tsp. baking soda
Put the kettle on. Put the sultanas in a bowl, together with a tea egg filled with the tea leaves, or the tea bag. Cover with water just off the boil and leave to infuse until using.
Heat the oven to 180°C/350°F/Gas 4.
Line a square 25×25 cm oven dish (or a round ∅20 cm cake tin) with baking parchment.
Prepare the flax egg by mixing the flax seeds with the cold water. Set aside for a few minutes until the water has taken on a gloopy, egg white-like consistency.
Wrap the tea towel or kitchen paper around the grated courgette. Close and gently squeeze to remove excess water.
Drain the sultanas, remove the tea leaves and gently pat dry the raisins.
In a large bowl, mix the flour with the sugar, vanilla seeds, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking powder and baking soda. Add the flax egg, courgette, yogurt, oil, lemon zest and lemon juice and stir to a thick batter. Carefully fold the raisins into the batter, then pour into the oven dish.
Bake for 30-40 minutes, until golden brown, springy to the touch and a skewer poked into the centre comes out clean. Leave to cool, then cut into squares and serve, or freeze for up to a month.