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.
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. 🙂
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.
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.
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…
Testing, 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.
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?
Kale and Apple Cake with Apple Icing
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
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.
- Ceri shared Beetroot and Vanilla Sorbet
- Bintu shared Chocolate Cauliflower Ice Lollies
- Jane shared Cavolo Nero and Orange Cupcakes
- Janice and Ren both shared Carrot Gingerbread here & here
- Kate (another Kate) shared Avocado Lime Tarts
- Claire shared Spinach & Strawberry Swiss Roll
- Lisa shared Pumpkin Cupcakes with Avocado Icing
- Choclette also shared Kale and Apple Cake
- Kavita and Elizabeth both share Pea and Vanilla Cake with Lemon Icing
- and Helen and Lucy shared Courgette and Poppyseed Loaf
- Heidi shared Black Bean Chocolate Brownies
- aaand, Kate has published her post on the virtual launch of her book.
To get a copy of your own:
Book: veggie desserts + cake
Author: Kate Hackworthy
Publisher: Pavilion Books
Publication Date: 3 August 2017
RRP: £14.99 (UK) $16.92 (CAN)
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.