Sticking with the winter vegetable theme before the Springtime produce comes along, I made these parsnip & blood orange cakes which are sweet from the parsnips with the sharpness of the orange and I have to say, delicious! As with the carrot and orange cake, I boiled the blood oranges and then whizzed them in a food processor until smooth and passed through a sieve to make an even smoother puree.
Boiling fruit for cakes is well worth a try and so easy. I have done it with clementines, blood oranges and lemons. It takes about an hour of simmering until they are soft, whizzing in a processor and passing through a sieve for a smoother texture. Gently stir in 2 or 3 tablespoons of the puree to the cake mix for a more intense flavour than just zesting or adding juice and it makes the cake really moist. I will also be trying it with limes and even a grapefruit, which may need some extra simmering time!
Another seasonal cake using up a vegetable that’s lurking at the bottom of the fridge and put together with some seasonal blood oranges. Carrot and blood orange, deliciously moist with a fruity citrus flavour. The icing drizzled on top is made with the blood orange juice, so it gives it a natural but subtle pink colour. While they are in season, the blood oranges are a good fruit to use to go with carrot, but this would go just as well with any orange or even limes for a sharper citrus flavour. Recipe to follow!
Pre-heat the oven to 180C/Fan 170C/gas mark 4 and line a 30x20cm cake tin or this will make 12 individual cakes.
Melt the butter on a low heat and set aside to cool slightly. In a large mixing bowl mix the dry ingredients – sugar, flour, baking powder, spices, walnuts & salt. Whisk the eggs into the melted butter and stir into the dry ingredients until just combined. Stir in the grated vegetables and spoon the mix into the prepared tins or cake cases. Bake the small cakes for 15 mins or 20-25 mins for larger cakes until springy to the touch. Drizzle with icing once cooled (optional).
The clementine & cranberry cakes I made for the Christmas markets were a big hit, so I wanted to do something similar with oranges. For the clementine cakes, I boiled the clementines for about an hour then blitzed them in a food processor with some sugar. This week we had some oranges in our fruit & veg box, so I boiled up a couple of them and then blitzed them in a food processor with a little bit of sugar – it really does give a lovely concentrated orange flavour with the orange bitterness too. Obviously the more sugar you add, the sweeter they will become. What goes with oranges? Any number of ingredients you can add to the oranges or just on their own in a cake! I was thinking along the lines of a jaffa cake type flavour so it had to be some good quality dark chocolate. I made a basic sponge mix and added some chocolate pieces. I made them into individual cakes, so I spooned in the mixture leaving enough room to pipe some dots of the orange pulp into the mix too. Baked in the usual way and the aroma that was filling the kitchen was delicious! To finish off I drizzled some melted dark chocolate over the cooled cakes.
Chocolate & orange is a really good match and put them into a cake can only be a really good tasty excuse for a treat. I think we will be seeing these at the Local Producers Market at Stanwick Lakes on Sunday 25th January to see how well they go down!
Now we’re in January and a lot of us are trying to lose that Christmas and New Year excess, I wanted to try and make something that’s a little more healthy than the usual vegetable & fresh fruit cakes I had been making before Christmas. Something that is healthy, but you think you’re being a bit naughty too! Flapjacks are one of my favourites things to make as well as eat and the flavourings you can add to the basic mix is endless, they always go down well at the markets with people of all ages. They taste so good because of the flavours you add, but also becuase of the butter, sugar and golden sytrup that goes into them as well. So although the oats are good for you for that slow release of energy, it’s not always the best thing to have if you’re trying to lose a few pounds.
I needed something to go with oats at the same time staying away from adding butter, sugar and syrup. Dried fruit without the flavourings and additives, gives you the natural sweetness and also the same with runny honey. Pumpkin, sunflower and sesame seeds all go well for a crunch and are naturally good for you. Nuts also go well in a flapjack – again without the extra salt, additives or flavourings, just the natural nut. Cashew nuts, hazelnuts, brazil nuts, almonds & peanuts. Now for something extra to help bind it all together, nut butters are readily available and there is a lot of choice too. The organic ones with nothing added – peanut, almond, hazelnut.
So, I chose a few ingredients I had in the cupboards and started putting them together. I blitzed some dates and dried apricots with some runny honey and peanut butter to get a sticky pulp. I added oats to a bowl along with sesame, pumpkin & sunflower seeds and some chopped up cashew nuts, sultanas & raisins. A little extra moisture came from a grated eating apple and thats all the ingredients – nothing else added. All mixed together by hand, pressed into a baking tin and left for a couple of hours in the fridge you have got a filling, healthy & energy boosting snack. Good for the morning or afternoon munchies or for lunch boxes. As with the other flapjacks, you can add and takeaway different ingredients of your choice or what you have available. These are delicious, and they are not just for January!
We have a fruit & veg box delivered to us every week from Riverford and the challenge is to test out some new recipes with the produce. In today’s delivery I have used some of the clementines to make these clementine & fresh cranberry cakes. I boiled the celemtines for 1 hour and then pulped them down to a smooth paste in the processor – skin as well (although I did check for pips). The fresh cranberrys are simmered in some sugar and water with a cinnamon stick, for about 10 mins and left to cool. The cake mix is less flour with ground almonds in it’s place. The cakes are lovely and light and you get the tartness of the clememtines with the sweetnes of the cranberries in a moist cake with the ground almonds adding a bit of texture.