Courgette, Lime and Pistachio Cake
I have the honour of being the first guest writer on Martin’s blog. It is not easy for him to part so soon with his new creative venture but as I am his other, perhaps some would say ‘better’ half, he graciously conceded to my request to write about a recipe for a cake that attracted much praise by Snowdrop revellers during February this year with many requests for the recipe.
For those of you not in the know, I took on responsibility for running Snowdrop Sundays at Thorpe Market Church a few years ago, which is one of the local churches in our benefice and the event is the main fundraising initiative of the year. Suffice to say, February becomes a blur of baking, co-ordinating volunteers, stall holders and artists and makers who grace the church with their wonderful artworks. Every Sunday in February we welcome hundreds of visitors who come to see the beautiful carpets of snowdrops in the church yard and to sample the edible and visual offerings inside and outside the church, which of course includes cakes. So many bakers are involved, of which Martin and I are just two.
My foray into baking cakes with vegetables began when Martin and I went on a journey to Oswestry in Shropshire close to the Welsh border, having just been to visit Castle Fine Arts Foundry - http://www.bronzefoundry.co.uk/. I was having work cast in bronze at the time for a public art commission in Northwich. We found ourselves taking in the sights of Oswestry and were drawn to a delightful tea house. For those of you who know me well, I have a certain penchant for tea and cake, thanks to my grandmother who delighted in taking me with her to such temples of temptation as she also had this very English trait running through her veins, which she dutifully passed on to me, having missed a generation! (One of Katayoun's family names is 'Cake').
Back to Oswestry and this delightful tea shop, they served the most delicious cake I had the pleasure of consuming, Parsnip, Pecan and Maple Syrup cake, which I subsequently sourced a recipe for.
Since then I have experimented with vegetables, Martin even once made Beetroot cake (not my favourite), courgette came out as a close second to parsnip and I have since discovered the pleasure of combining parsnip with ginger, that deserves a blog of its own.
This courgette recipe has been adapted to suit my taste, almonds added to soak up some of the moisture that courgettes impart and pistachios because it is a fruit / nut made in heaven that compliments both the courgette and lime and is a tangible aide memoir of my childhood growing up in Iran.
I so fondly remember the nut sellers with their baskets of fruit and nuts overflowing with nature’s bounty. The greenest, freshest, largest and best tasting pistachios were reserved for the home market, beautifully assembled in trays.
A standing joke between Martin and me is how so many things were “invented” or “come from” Iran or more precisely the Persian Empire. Well Pistachios are! They originate in the Middle East, from Iran and Iraq on land formally known as Mesopotamia in the fertile valley’s between the Tigris and the Euphrates rivers - commonly thought of as the birthplace of civilisation.
Archaeologists have found evidence, that pistachio nuts were a common food as early as 6750 BCE, in a dig site at Jerome, near north-eastern Iraq. The fruit also makes an appearance in the bible and is an important ingredient in Persian cooking, along with saffron and other dried fruits. The most famous being the Persian jewelled rice, made with pistachios, almonds, barberries, orange peel, raisins and carrots. Well that is definitely worth another blog!
Do you think I am doing a good job of inviting myself back?
Courgette, Lime and Pistachio Cake
3 Free range eggs equivalent to 200g/6½oz in weight at room temperature
200g/6½oz butter at room temperature
200g/6½oz self-raising flour
200g/6½oz unrefined caster sugar (for the diabetics this can be substituted with 65g/2oz Stevia Leaf sweetner)
1 humble Courgette grated (medium)
50g/1½oz pistachio, chopped
75g/2½oz ground almond
Zest of 1 unwaxed lime
Juice from 1 lime
50g/1½oz unrefined caster sugar
Bake at 170°C (fan oven) 180°C (without fan) / Gasmark 4 / 350°F
1. Beat the butter and sugar in a warm bowl until white and fluffy.
2. Add the eggs. Continue to beat.
3. Add in the courgette, nuts, lime zest.
4. Prepare your tin.
5. Add your flour and almond meal to the mix but be careful not to overmix, only until the flour has been absorbed in the mix.
6. Decant the mixture into the tin and place in the hot oven for 40 minutes. You may need to add more time depending on your oven, but I check it and if still too wet, keep it in the oven for an extra 10 or 15 minutes.
7. Once out and whilst still warm, make up your glaze with lime and sugar over a medium heat then pour over the cake. Diabetics can omit this stage to keep the cake sugar free.
Robert Macfarlane's Word of the Day is ...
"thole" - as a noun, the ability to bear hardship. As a verb, to endure patiently, to slog through tough times; "to thole on" (Scots). Compare "sisu" (Finnish) & "ganbaru/gambaru (頑張る)" (Japanese, lit. "stand firm").
Photo: Ron Porter
"For all those people finding it difficult at the moment, the sun will shine again and the clouds will go away." - Capt Tom Moore.
“and I rose up, and knew that I was tired, and continued my journey” - Edward Thomas.
"Start by doing what’s necessary; then do what’s possible; and suddenly you are doing the impossible." - St. Francis of Assisi
“All shall be well and all shall be well and all manner of things shall be well”. - Julian of Norwich