It’s almost Christmas. I am soon to put down my German textbooks and head home to the UK for a few days. This December I’ve been busy in the kitchen crafting an array of spiced delights and Christmas gifts. Jars of homemade vanilla sugar, bottles of cinnamon-maple syrup and bags of caramelised spiced nuts have been distributed amongst friends and family. I experimented with a batch of gingerbread nussmakronen and my chunky, dark chocolate and ginger biscotti have gone down a treat. For my birthday I received the most beautiful Nordic Ware gugelhupf baking form and I’ve been eager to play with it. Gluten/wheat has become and increasing issue for my diet so I do try to bake gluten free as much as possible – whilst keeping the recipes flexible for the non-gluten-intolerant bakers reading this blog.
When baking cakes gluten-free I generally aim for a vegetable or fruit-based batter. Banana, beetroot, carrot and courgette are popular additions to cakes, adding subtle flavour and moisture. This is essential for gluten-free baking when starchy flour mixes have a tendency to leave the crumb dry and mealy. Courgette works well with cocoa, disappearing into the soft crumb with no lingering vegetal taste. The resulting sponge was light with a delicate chocolate scent. Adding spices such as ginger or cinnamon add a warmth to the cocoa to create depth of flavour. I topped this creation with melted white chocolate and a scattering of hazelnuts but it think this cake form is always at its most elegant with just a dusting of icing sugar. The baking form, if you’re interested, was a roaring success. Nordic Bakeware is heavy-based and cuts a beautiful, crisp shape. I have craved a pretty bundt-tin for some time and now I fear every cake I bake will be in this sweeping, spiral shape…
Cocoa-Courgette Cake (GF)
150g gluten free cake flour*
200g buckwheat flour
350g plain or self-raising flour (if non-gluten free)
4tsp baking powder**
½ tsp bicarb**
450g courgette (grated)
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp Arabisches Kaffeegewürz (or spice of your choice!)
150g plain chocolate chips
*I used a standard white ‘cake and cookie’ mix from my local supermarket in Germany. These mixes can be a little dry but the addition of courgette really helps the texture
** If using self-raising flour these two raising agents are not necessary.
1.Preheat oven to 180°C/160°C Fan/Gas mark 4 and line or grease your tin of choice (this mixture should fit a 24cm round cake tin or a large bundt tin)
2.Combine the flours, baking powder, baking soda and any chosen spices.
3.In a separate bowl beat together the eggs, oil, sugar and vanilla extract until well-combined with a pale colour.
4.Add the grated courgette to the egg mixture and mix well.
5.Combine the wet and dry ingredients together and stir until combined.
6.Add the chocolate chips to the batter and mix.
7.Pour the batter into the prepared tin and bake for 50-60 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean.
8.Allow the cake to cool complete before removing it from the tin.
9.Dust with icing sugar to finish or add a topping of melting white/dark chocolate. I used white chocolate cake covering and roasted hazelnuts but it would be equally as pretty with melted dark chocolate and chopped pistachios.
10.Serve to friends and family alongside a big pot of coffee.