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cover of veggie desserts + cakes cookbook by kate hackworthy

A delicate apple-flavoured sponge, topped with a zesty apple icing and, although there is quite a bit of kale, the flavour doesn’t overpower the other ingredients. From the debut cookbook by Kate Hackworthy.

A delicate apple-flavoured sponge, topped with a zesty apple icing and, although there is quite a bit of kale, the flavour doesn’t overpower the other ingredients. From the debut cookbook by Kate Hackworthy.

image courtesy of Pavilion Books

Veggie Desserts + Cakes, the debut baking cookbook by top UK food blogger, Kate Hackworthy, celebrates rather than hides vegetables. More than this, she confects the humblest roots and the greenest of greens into treats the whole family will enjoy.

So, is this is a super-healthy cookbook? Although she uses sugar, eggs and added fats, the texture and natural sweetness of many vegetables mean that she – and you – use less.

Vegetables also give fantastic moistness (think carrot cake), meaning the cakes and bakes last for days and still taste freshly baked. Obviously, the lasting for days bit is largely theoretical!

Kate’s passion for vegetables, married with her endless creativity and baking skills, results in enticing bakes for everyday eating as well as special occasions. Unlike myself, who will give you the occasional cake recipe but rarely an icing option, Kate gilds her cakes and cupcakes with properly decadent frosting. Duly noted. 🙂

cover of veggie desserts + cakes cookbook by kate hackworthy

image courtesy of Pavilion Books

Is it just cakes? This beautifully styled and photographed book is divided into chapters from cakes, cookies, cupcakes and traybakes, to pies, pastries, raw and frozen treats. So a lot of ideas for using the contents of your produce drawer, garden or allotment. Most of the vegetables will be common in the kitchens of those of us in the Western Hemisphere, and more especially those living in temperate climates.veggie desserts + cakes by kate hackworthy

Do I need to be a good baker? The recipes vary in skill level, with most being suitable for the averagely-competent baker – like me. The only one that slightly terrifies is her Vegetable-Dyed Rainbow Cake with Coconut Funfetti, which is definitely for the methodical and confident baker (it is just stunning). As a bonus, Kate’s use of raw and minimally cooked vegetables keeps most of the health benefits in tact, while also contributing to the amazing natural colour of the end result. veggie desserts + cakes by kate hackworthy

Okay, this sounds good. Tell me more about the veggies. If you thought carrot cake and chocolate-beetroot cake was as far as the vegetables-in-desserts craze could go, check these recipe names:

Chocolate Cauliflower Ice Lollies with Pistachio Crust

Spinach and Almond Shortbread

Swede, Nutmeg Cookies with Maple-Candied Seeds

Chocolate Mashed Potato Cupcakes with Espresso Icing (a great way to use leftover mash)

Pea and Vanilla Cake with Lemon Icing

Chocolate Aubergine Truffles

You get the idea…

avocado cupcakes from veggie desserts + cakes by kate hackworthyTesting, Testing… After making a long list of recipes to try out for you, I settled on two. And so confident was I in Kate that I made one of them for last week’s nutrition class without testing it on us first – the Avocado Chocolate Cupcakes with Cherry Icing. It was a huge hit, with one chap asking to take the leftovers home. I confess that I did my own icing, cashew based rather than her butter and icing sugar one, and it was really lovely this way (if not very elegant!). I’m sure she won’t mind that I made this tweak. 🙂 I also made her Sweet Potato and Salted Hazelnut Cookies with a number of changes but following her basic ratios. I will come back in a wee while to give you my version, with reference to Kate and her book, of course.sweet potato and salted hazelnut cookies from veggie desserts + cakes by kate hackworthy

In all, Veggie Desserts + Cakes, published by Pavillion Books, contains 60 sweet recipes, all highlighting one – and often more – vegetable. If you are as mad-keen on vegetables as I think you are, you must get a copy.

Declaring a bit of an interest, Kate is a blogging friend whose gorgeous and inspiring blog, Veggie Desserts, is one that I have been reading and ogling for years.

So, I guess you want a recipe? This one is probably her most famous – it certainly is the one that gets the most attention from her readers. She’s received such lovely feedback about it that I asked to be able to share it here. Now, if I can only stop eating kale in savoury recipes long enough to have some for this pretty cake!

What is your favourite vegetable? Have you ever made it into a cake?

A delicate apple-flavoured sponge, topped with a zesty apple icing and, although there is quite a bit of kale, the flavour doesn’t overpower the other ingredients. From the debut cookbook by Kate Hackworthy.

image courtesy of Pavilion Books

Kale and Apple Cake with Apple Icing

  • Servings: 12
  • Difficulty: moderately easy
  • Print

This is the most popular vegetable cake on Kate’s blog Veggie Desserts, with countless readers making it time and again. It has a delicate apple-flavoured sponge, topped with a zesty apple icing and, although there is quite a bit of kale, the flavour doesn’t overpower the other ingredients.

Kate notes that you shouldn’t be tempted to add more kale to make the colour brighter or its flavour will come through too much!

For the cake

200g/7oz/6½ packed cups fresh kale leaves, woody stalks discarded

3 large free-range eggs

100ml/3½fl oz/scant ½ cup vegetable oil

2 tsp vanilla extract

100g/3½oz/½ cup apple sauce (see tip on p.12)

175g/6¼oz/heaped ¾ cup granulated sugar

2 eating (dessert) apples, peeled and grated

250g/9oz/2 cups plain (all-purpose) flour

2 tsp baking powder

½ tsp salt

butter, or non-stick cooking spray, for greasing

For the apple icing

2 tbsp unsalted butter, softened

2 tbsp smooth apple sauce

250g/9oz/1¾ cups plus 1 tbsp icing (confectioners’) sugar

½ tsp vanilla extract

To decorate

1 handful of blueberries (optional)


To make the cake

Preheat the oven to 180°C/160°C fan/350°F/gas 4. Grease and line two 20cm/8in round cake pans.

Tear the kale leaves into bite-sized pieces and boil or steam them for a few minutes until tender. Refresh by running under cold water to cool, then drain, squeeze out any excess moisture and purée well with a hand blender. Kale is one of the more difficult vegetables to purée, since it’s quite fibrous, and I’ve found a hand blender works best. Persevere for a few minutes to blitz the fibrous leaves to a paste, though it will still be slightly stringy. Set aside.

In a large bowl, beat the eggs, oil, vanilla, apple sauce and sugar together with an electric mixer. Beat in the kale purée and grated apple. Sift in the flour, baking powder and salt, then gently combine.

Divide the mixture between the prepared pans and bake for 30 minutes, or until a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean.

Leave to cool in the pans for 5 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

To make the apple icing

In a large bowl, beat the butter and apple sauce with an electric mixer. Add the remaining icing ingredients and beat until smooth. If necessary, add a little more icing sugar or a teaspoon of milk to reach the consistency of thick frosting. Store in the fridge until ready to use.

Sandwich the cakes together with about a quarter of the icing, then spread the remaining icing over the top and sides of the cooled cake. Top with the blueberries to finish.


In both the icing and cake, apple sauce replaces some of the fat and sugar, lightening the texture. If your apple sauce has chunks, it’s fine for the cake, but is best completely smooth for the icing, so purée it with a hand blender. If you don’t have apple sauce, just peel, core and slice 4 apples, steam until soft, then purée with a hand blender, then measure out the amounts needed in the recipe.

If you fancy reading some more of her recipes, do check out the links from my fellow food bloggers. 



To get a copy of your own:

Book: veggie desserts + cake
Author: Kate Hackworthy
Publisher: Pavilion Books
ISBN: 978-1-91121-674-2
Publication Date: 3 August 2017
RRP: £14.99 (UK) $16.92 (CAN)

Find Kate on FacebookTwitter and Instagram


Many thanks to Kate and Pavilion Books for the review copy of the book and kind reproduction of the recipe.  All thoughts are my own. 

Note: Images are my own unless otherwise stated in the caption.

veggie desserts + cakes by kate hackworthy

Doesn’t everyone use kale as a bookmark? 😉


42 thoughts on “Kale and Apple Cake with Apple Icing from Veggie Desserts + Cakes {review and recipe}

  1. chelsielira says:

    Nice i will make sure to try this cake out

    1. Do! I want to try everything in Kate’s book. 😊

  2. I am blown away… I need to get myself a copy of this book. The pics look amazing and so original to use veggies like this. My fav is cauliflower and I never in my wildest dreams thought of making a cake with it!! Thank you so much for sharing. Food for thought for sure!

    1. You simply must get it, or see if your library can get a copy. It is fantastic, and borne from a true and longstanding passion for promoting vegetables 😊😊

  3. I’ve been seeing this new baking up pop-up this past week and wondered if It was something to add to my bookshelf. Your scrumptious review has me diving deeper into this fascinating book!

    1. Do get it, Deb. It is honestly right up your street. I can see you being very inspired by the recipes and coming up with your own California versions 🙂

  4. mistimaan says:

    The yummiest recipe made by you….love to taste it 🙂

  5. Janice Clyne says:

    I’ve just bought this lovely book and am tempted by so many of the recipes but I’m going to start with the Beetroot Seedy Squares and the Pea & Vanilla Cake with Lemon Icing!

    1. Have you made anything yet? Those beetroot seedy squares really appeal to me too 🙂

  6. Kate’s new book looks fantastic, I can’t wait to get a copy myself. 🙂

    1. I know you will love it, Julie. I highly recommend it 🙂

  7. A unique recipe. I can’t wait to try. Thanks for sharing!!

    1. It is unique. I hope you like it 🙂

  8. Megala says:

    Fantastic book !

  9. I love the sound of this cake. I just can’t imagine what it tastes like. I lOVE Kale 🙂

    1. I confess I haven’t made it yet as the baking I do for work are “smaller things” like biscuits, balls and traybakes. But I will try it for a special occasion when there is more than just the three of us.

  10. Janice @FarmersgirlCook says:

    ha ha, love your bookmark. I’ve used a lot of different things as bookmarks, but I don’t think I’ve ever used kale! It’s such a brilliant book and the Kale and Apple Cake looks amazing, so do the Avocado Chocolate Cherry Cupcakes, need to bake more from the book.

  11. Sounds amazing, how inventive and delicious sounding. Incredible images both yours and Kates.

    1. Kate’s book is fantastic. I’m posting my version of her sweet potato cookies very soon – a gluten-free version with a few other tweaks that I hope she approves of!

  12. Totally knew you’d be tempted by that kale cake, and look how stunning it looks! Very nice. I’m loving Kate’s book so much!

  13. Everything looks so delicious! I really need to try the kale cake! :O

    1. You do, Alisa! Do get the book as there are so many things for all tastes. OR click on the links at the bottom of my post to see recipes up on other blogs. Try before you buy kind of idea 🙂

  14. stateeats says:

    WOWWWW, that vibrant green from the kale is bonkers. Would love to taste that one. Will be waiting for your sweet potato cookie post -Kat

    1. Kate’s cake is stunning, isn’t it? Just a little goes a long way here though. As for the cookies – coming soon! 🙂

    2. You do, Alisa! Do get the book as there are so many things for all tastes. Or click on the links at the bottom of my post to see recipes up on other blogs. Try before you buy kind of idea 🙂

  15. choclette says:

    Oh sweet potato and salted hazelnut cookies for me please. They sound wonderful. If I’d had any pumpkin available I’d have surely made those. Lovely review Kellie and a wonderful book.

  16. Your pictures are so beautiful and pleasing! Lovely post!
    x Lysbeth

  17. Scrumptious Recipe and stunning pictures.

  18. Wow! I’ve never tried vegetable cake but I definitely try this one! Excellent recipe, Kellie!

  19. superfitbabe says:

    No way, now I NEED TO NEED TO try kale cake someday!

  20. Yana says:

    Lovely cake!! I have very similar cake in my ‘repertoire’, just with the spinach instead of kale and no apples. It is always a hit, even with the kids! I’d like to try your recipe, especially because of apple frosting 🙂 Thank you!

  21. Ashley V. says:

    This looks amazing!

  22. Do! I want to try everything in Kate’s book

  23. Royston .F says:

    This is an excellent blog post! Thank you for sharing with us!

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