29 Nov 2011

Courgette, walnut and cinnamon layer cake

This cake is again from one of my new cook books the hummingbird bakery’s cake days. I made it for Eid. Having so many new cook books I was a bit spoilt for choice as to which cake to make as there were so many I wanted to try. I settled on this one as not everyone likes chocolate in the crowd that I was making it for (otherwise I would have gone for the Devil’s food cake from Nigellas kitchen which I have made loads of times-such a great cake-must manage to take pictures next time so can blog about it), um, anyway I digress, and also because it was quite straightforward to make but still quite celebratory. It’s quite a heavy rich cake so you definitely want to make it for a celebration when you have plenty of people to eat it. 

Some of you non-bakers probably made a face when you read courgette, but it’s similar to using carrots in carrot cake. The courgettes make the cake really soft and moist and you can’t taste them in the cooked cake (no one need know that it has courgettes in it at all). I found the recipe had far too much cinnamon and the icing was a bit too heavy despite having some Greek yoghurt in it. So I would add less cinnamon and loosen the icing with some milk. I give my recommendation in brackets below. I also found there was too much icing so would make ¾ the recommended amount next time. 

 The caramelised walnuts don’t really add much taste-wise but they do look pretty.

They have a short video of this cake on Amazon. It is quite straightforward to make and ice and looks very pretty. I did really like it but it’s not quite in the league of the above mentioned Devils food cake.

You will need three 20cm diameter loose-bottomed sandwich tins.
Serves 10-12 
3 large eggs
300ml sunflower oil
300g soft light brown sugar
½ tsp vanilla essence
300g plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
2 tsp ground cinnamon (reduce to ½ or 1)
½ tsp ground ginger
½ tsp ground nutmeg
300g peeled and grated courgettes
100g walnuts, roughly chopped, plus 10-12 extra halves (caramelised if you wish) to decorate
For the frosting 
240g unsalted butter, softened
1½ tsp ground cinnamon, plus extra for dusting (reduce to ½)
750g icing sugar
75g plain Greek yoghurt (taste and add milk as needed)

Preheat the oven to 170 degrees/gas mark 3, and line the bases of the sandwich tins with baking parchment.
Using a hand-held electric whisk or a freestanding electric mixer with the paddle attachment, mix together the eggs, sunflower oil, sugar and vanilla essence until they are all combined.
Sift together the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and the ground spices. With the mixer or electric whisk running on a low speed, add these to the eggs, sugar and sunflower oil in two batches, beating well after each addition until all the ingredients are incorporated. Lastly, add the courgettes and chopped walnuts to the batter, mixing them in thoroughly.
Divide the cake batter evenly between the three prepared cake tins and bake for 35-40 minutes or until golden on top and springy to the touch.
Allow the cakes to cool in the tins for a few minutes before carefully turning them out on to a wire rack to cool completely.
While the cakes are cooling, make the frosting. Mix together the butter, cinnamon and icing sugar using the electric whisk or freestanding mixer with the paddle attachment. Keep mixing until the butter is fully incorporated and the mixture is sandy in consistency.
Add the yoghurt and mix on a low speed until the ingredients are combined, then increase the speed and beat until the frosting is light and fluffy.
Once the cake layers have fully cooled, place the first layer of sponge on a plate or cake card and top with three to four tablespoons of the frosting, smoothing it out using a palette knife and adding a little more if needed.
Sandwich the second layer of cake on top and add another three to four tablespoons of the frosting, then add the final layer and use the remaining frosting to cover the top and sides of the cake.
To finish, you can make a swirled pattern in the frosting using the tip of your palette knife. Dust with a little ground cinnamon and decorate with walnut halves, caramelised if you wish.

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