Eventually, the most dedicated zucchini-grower has to acknowledge when productivity has gone far enough.
Despite being pinged by a frost (par for the course here at altitude), my single plant is soldiered on, producing not only fruit but a wealth of flowers that, as we all know, will become little zucchinis in no time. What to do with them? Something different, I hear you say.
Using bland vegetables in cakes in nothing new. I am old enough to remember when carrot cake was a huge novelty and, despite challenges from all quarters over the years, it has remained a firm favourite.
Zucchinis are bland and moist, especially when harvested young and refrigerated. They make an excellent addition to this chocolate cake, which is quick and easy to make and has lots of possibilities for variation.
I had two willing helpers when trialling my effort - so willing in fact that most of the time I stood back and let them get on with it.
Teaching children to cook is less about the end product and more about the process: how to use kitchen equipment, how to measure accurately, how batters and doughs should look as well as feel, how to prepare tins and the importance of choosing the right oven temperature. That way, cooking becomes a brick-by- brick learning experience rather than a random act of hope.
CHOCOLATE ZUCCHINI CAKE
1 cup white flour
1/3 cup cocoa powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 cup wholemeal flour
2 cups raw sugar
4 medium eggs at room temperature
1 tsp vanilla essence
1 cup vegetable oil
1 cup chocolate chips or bits
1 cup chopped walnuts (optional)
2 cups grated zucchini, skin on
Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius.
Spray and line a 23cm cake tin.
Sift together white flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder and cinnamon.
Add wholemeal flour and toss through dry ingredients with a fork. Set aside.
Put sugar, eggs and vanilla into a processor bowl and blitz for 2 minutes.
With motor running, pour in oil in a steady stream through feed tube.
Process on high for a further 2 minutes.
Remove lid and add half of the dry ingredients. Pulse until just combined.
Add remaining dry ingredients plus zucchini. Pulse until just combined.
Scrape mixture into a large bowl.
Stir in chocolate chips and nuts, if using.
Spoon mixture into prepared tin and level with a knife.
Bake centre oven for about 45 minutes.
Cake is cooked when the centre is firm and springy.
Leave in tin until cool.
OPTIONAL CHOCOLATE ICING
100g very soft butter
1/2 tsp vanilla essence
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1 1/2 cups icing sugar
Put butter and vanilla in a bowl.
Sift over icing sugar and cocoa.
Beat together then add enough water to make a thinnish icing.
Pour over cake.
Decorate with chopped nuts if desired.
COOK'S NOTE: The little cooks divided the mixture between five small bundt tins so they could each take home two samples, leaving one for Grandma.
- The Southland Times