Tuesday, 28 August 2007

Courgette Cake (egg-free, dairy-free, gluten-free)

I have written before about Bear Bear, my second daughter’s prized toy. However, I only found out recently that Bear Bear has a birthday.

A few weeks ago, in the crazed, tense half hour that precedes dinner arriving on the table, the children were circling around me in a hungry pack. I had assumed my usual fixed expression, intently stirring, gently pushing small people out of the way, trying not to get irritated, and struggling to work out how much spaghetti feeds a family of six.

My eldest was leaning on the edge of the work surface, drumming her fingers in boredom. Her eyes were casting around for something to amuse her, when she spotted it,
‘Mum, can I look at my baby journal?’
‘What? Ummm, err – so if 100g feeds a small child, how much do I need for an adult…yes, yes you can’.All the others looked up with interest and surprise,
‘Mum! Mum! Can I look at my baby journal?’

With a sigh, and the usual frustration of never being able to finish a job without interruptions, I handed them the baby journals, and they seated themselves around the kitchen table.

These journals came into being when I was pregnant with my first baby. She came late, so I had lots of time on my hands, and started writing the grandly named ‘Baby Journal’. I now struggle to keep the FOUR baby journals I have, up to date. Please don’t mistake me for a supermum at this point. I write them because I have many questions about my own childhood, and unfortunately there is no-one left to ask. I would have loved a little book that told me salient details about my early life.

The journals consist of photos, train tickets, hospital tags, plane tickets, sketches and writing. The writing is about their lives. When they were born, what they do, what they say, their personality traits, funny things that happen, long-drawn out apologies from me for not being as good as I’d like to be, that sort of thing.

Now, my children normally love the idea of being mentioned on my blog for ‘the whole world to read’ (bless their deluded hearts), but they have drawn the line when it comes to Baby Journals. They don’t mind me recounting anecdotes, ‘but no names Mum, no names’.

Suffice to say that they giggled heartily the other week when they read of how one constipated baby finally consented to poo – after a 10 day hiatus – at 3am one dark morning. They listened agog as the journal told them that Mummy ran out of nappies to catch all the poo. They heard how Daddy stumbled off to get another nappy, and still the baby wanted to poo. They filled the kitchen with cries of horror as they read that in her 3am state, whilst changing the baby on the marital bed, Mummy held out her hands to catch the poo rather than have to wash all the bedding.

They were literally rolling on the floor when they heard of how one cheeky minx ran to me when she was small, demanding scissors. After careful maternal questioning as to the proposed use of the scissors, she lied, and thus managed to procure a pair. She ran quickly from the room, with Mummy in silent, suspicious pursuit. They cackled and cackled when they heard that the cheeky girl was creeping, scissors aloft, towards an older child who was reading a comic. They were gleeful as they realised that the minx was going to cut through the comic, and they groaned when they learnt that Mummy spoiled the fun.

They thought it hilarious that one child’s first attempt at a sentence was,
‘Bash you on the head, shall I?’ and that one of them told me very seriously that Jesus was born in ‘Bethkneeheaven’ and that angels sang, ‘Hal-nay-nooonia’.

Perhaps the most important thing we learnt, however, is that Bear Bear has a birthday. I had not realised that I’d written down the day we bought her, but my little girl found this a very exciting fact. Especially when she realised that August 23rd is Bear Bear’s birthday, and ‘shouldn’t we have a party?’
 I drew the line at a party, but thought a cake might be in order. And why not a courgette cake? I have heard the cries from fellow bloggers who have a surfeit of courgettes and so providing a courgette recipe seemed a sensible thing to do.

So, for Bear Bear and for all those with too many courgettes, this cake is for you.

Bear Bear’s Courgette Cake (Click here for tips on how to avoid cross-contamination)

This is a babe of a cake, really moist and tasty, and a very good way to hide courgettes from children. I’ve made it with wheat flour and Gluten-free flour and it works a treat with both. There is no need to add eggs to this recipe.

For a gluten-free cake:
275g grated courgette
3tbsps ground linseeds mixed up with 4½ tbsps rice milk
195g sugar
0.5tsps nutmeg
1.5tsps mixed spice
105ml vegetable oil (I used Sunflower)
75g raisins
45g dried, sweetened cranberries
30g rice flour
¾ tsp xanthan gum
1.5tsps bicarbonate of soda
4 - 10 tbsps rice milk
For a wheat flour cake:
Use the first 8 ingredients above, then:
225g wholemeal wheat flour
2tsps baking powder
1½ tsps bicarbonate of soda
3-4 tbsps rice milk
For the icing and filling:
300g icing sugar
1 tbsps cornflour
zest of 1 orange
zest of 1 lemon 
  • Mix the ground linseeds with the rice milk and set aside
  • Heat oven to 160 degrees celsius, gas 4. Grease two 20cm round cake tins, and line the base with baking parchment
  • Grate the courgettes and squeeze them to remove the juice, you could do it in a tea towel if you can bear to wash it afterwards.  Set aside
  • In a large mixing bowl, put the sugar, oil, and linseed mix and stir. If making a gluten-free cake, add the xanthan gum
  • Add the dried fruit and grated courgettes
  • Add the flour (either wheat flour or gluten free flours), bicarbonate of soda, baking powder and spices. Mix well. Add the extra tbsps of rice milk, more or less as you see fit. You are aiming for a mix that will fall slowly from a wooden spoon
  • Divide the mix between the two cake tins, smooth the tops with the back of a wooden spoon, and place in the centre of the oven
  • Bake for about 25 minutes, but do keep checking (all ovens are different). The cake is done when it has risen, is golden and springy to touch. A skewer should come out clean
  • Allow the cakes to cool in the tins, then turn out onto a cooling rack. You can keep them overnight well wrapped up
  • To make the icing, put the dairy-free spread into a large mixing bowl. Add the zest from the orange and lemon
  • Seive in the icing sugar and cornflour and mix well to combine. Add more icing sugar if you like
  • Place one of the cakes, top down, onto your serving plate. Smear half of the icing over it, and sandwich the other cake on top
  • Cover the top of the cake with the rest of the icing, spread it out using a palette knife (or a regular knife will do).  Then use the back of a metal spoon to make little peaks, dab the spoon onto the icing then quickly pull it up and it should make a point 
  • Eat huge slices of it, it's yummy, and pretty healthy (ish) too

The pictured cakes are the gluten free versions
© Pig in the Kitchen 2007

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Akelamalu said...

What a great idea 'baby journals'. I wish I'd kept one for my boys - you can't remember all the 'gems' they come out with whilst they're growing up.

Stay at home dad said...

How lovely. And four too. Come on, you're a secret supermum, you know you are!

Silvana said...

Really cheered me up this morning, thank you. ‘Bethkneeheaven’ !

Potty Mummy said...

Fantastic - I am inspired by the baby journals and the cake (if you want a surfeit of courgettes try subscribing to an organic vegetable box scheme), and nostalgic regarding the scissor incident. Somehow my mother never did believe my explanation that it was moths that had cut the perfectly circular hole in the dining room curtains (of course it was in an invisble spot when the curtains were open and 'somebody' wanted to test out their new pair of folding scissors).

Mary said...

Your Courgette Cake looks wonderful, but I have a question: how can it be gluten-free when the "plain flour" is made from wheat?

Frog in the Field said...

I shall be baking this tomorrow, sounds fab!
A baby journal? I wish I'd done that, well done you.

farming-frenchstyle said...

I wish I, too, had dome Baby Journals. I was going to do one of those photo things for my youngest daughter's 18th this week - but couldn't find any baby photos of her or her elder brother. Had loads of the first born though! Hope the others don't get a complex.

Pig in the Kitchen said...

Akelamalu, they are good, but they take some writing! The gaps between entries are getting longer...

SAHD, welcome back. I think you couldn't find someone less like a supermum than me.

silvana, glad it made you smile :-)

PM, hello. Yes, i've heard the veg box scheme means you make lots of soup. It sounds as tho those curtains were asking to be cut, I bet they made a good sound when you cut them!

Mary, Mary, Mary, by now you should have received my email, but thank-you for pointing out the schoolgirl error. When I posted this recipe yesterday I added a link to Dove's Farm WHEAT Flour in error, whereas I used Doves Farm GF Plain flour...it's all fixed now. Feel free to point out any other glaring errors

FITF, bake and enjoy! It's not too late to start them, I still write them. I figure that when all my children hate me through their teenage years, i shall scribble away in their journals. When the mist clears and they love me again, they'll be heartened to read all the nice things i wrote about them when they were busy slamming doors. Hmmmm

Farming-frenchstyle, oh don't, i have hours of video footage of baby number 1...and err, that's about it! Lots of pix tho, when i die and they have to clear out the loft, they'll be able to sort thru them all!

lady macleod said...

I love the stories! brilliant stuff. I can envision your children sitting at the table and getting hysterical over the details. Q says she has heard all her baby stories so many times, there is not need for writing - the only child syndrome perhaps?

I found some wonderful books a few years back and gave them to her grandparents. They are just for this purpose - to jog the memory about important details and give children their history.

Lizzie said...

Pig, I think you are a total star! I wish I could have had a mummy like you. (I think my daughters would feel the same, too!)

Lizzie x

debio said...

Children never seem to tire of tales of when they were 'young'.

Four Bay Journals - qualifies for SuperMum award, I think!

mutterings and meanderings said...

Fab! One day you are going to be incredibly famous - a Martha Stewart without the jail sentence, or would you prefer Nigella Lawson?

Mya said...

Hi Pig,
Tasty courgette recipe - if only I had some left in the garden...I'll have to go and BUY some. Eek.

I have an award waiting for you chez moi...but, I think you already have it! Nevermind, you can never be too nice! Don't worry about displaying it again - it's such a palava.

I don't know how you manage 4 journals - that shows enormous devotion to duty, I'm sure your kids will appreciate it when they're older.

Mya x

dulwichmum said...

I am going to try this lovely chum. Wish me luck!

Alisa said...

Can I have a thick slice please? Right where that thicker layer or frosting is resting.

elizabethm said...

lovely blog and loved your baby journals. i am afraid I was rubbish at that and recording things and photos and keeping track generally (although my now adult children are frankly fantastic so must have done something right). And the courgette cake recipe is marvellous. I have a glut of courgettes right now and they are practically compulsory at all meals so there will be rejoicing in the house when I make the cake! thank you.

beta mum said...

I have a surfeit of courgettes, but unfortunately I also have a policy of never trying to cook anything with so many ingredients.
I guess that means more ratatouille... which Mike hates.
My kids spent a happy half hour listening to me reading out their reception class attempts at spelling and writing sentences. They rolled around the floor clutching themselves in an agony of hilarity.
Well done with the 4 baby journals.

Lucy said...

Loved the baby journal stories!

Funny, isn't it, how catching poo in your hands to save laundry seems like such a rational choice once you've had children - but wouldn't even have crossed my mind before (or only for a quick Yuck!).

Pig in the Kitchen said...

Lady M, thank-you Lady M, it's great that Q knows all the stories...saves your writer's cramp!

Aw Lizzie, you're lovely! I think your daughters have got their own 'star' mum...who drives a toilet bicycle, what more could you ask for?!

Debio, all supermum awards not appropriate on this blog, alas. Now if i could fly a plane like you, I could perhaps be deemed to be a supermum!

M&M, stop, I'm blushing. Martha's cash with Nigella's pout please.

MYA, many thanks for the award love! Now I was thinking of you when I came up with this recipe, and now you tell me you have none left?! The gaps between entries in the baby journals are becoming longer...my devotion is waning!

DM, go on, go on! Lots of cyber luck to you

Alisa, have parcelled the slice up, it's on its way...

elizabethM, it's so hard to keep track though isn't it? There seem to be so many hoops through which nmother's must jump. HOpe the courgette recipe is of use!

Beta Mum, yes, sorry for so many ingredients, but it does make a good cake! Will have to store up bad schoolwork for them to laugh at later!

Lucy, I'm glad you can see why I did it! And breastfed baby poo can't be THAT bad....!

thenewstead6 said...

would this mixture work, put into fairy cake papers/muffin tins, and made into small cakes? Also, does it keep to the next day just as well?

Pig in the Kitchen said...

Hello Newstead6, i think this would work as fairy cakes, the cooking time will be shorter though, around about 10 minutes? This and Bear BEar#s carrot cake keeps really well in a sealed container (standing on baking parchment to avoid any sticking). I think I'd be tempted to keep it in the fridge, perhaps with a sheet of kitchen towel over the top to absorb excess moisture.

thenewstead6 said...

hi, yes they worked as fairy cakes! Took about 20 minutes actually, but still lovely and moist. They kept overnight, as you suggested. Thanks!

Pig in the Kitchen said...

newstead6, hurrah!