Free weekends are basically unicorns. It was suggested that I fill my once-in-a-blue-moon free Sunday by baking something to blog. At first thought this sounded marvellous, then I remembered I hadn't blogged about the last two or three kinda cool things I'd made and taken nice photos of.
So here I am, writing about something I made two-ish weeks ago. It was a toss up between these or some delish hazelnut banana cakes with muscadavo cream cheese icing but I can't for the life of me remember how long I baked those for... Thats what happens when you procrastinate for like um, four months.
These were made as part of a dessert for The Supper Club. For those who don't know, Dylan and I often invite silly numbers of people around for dinner and then ply them with food and liquor until they have no choice but to roll home. Often a heavy desert is the last thing anyone wants at the end of one of these things so I opted for something lighter and less sweet than a typical stodgy pud. I took a recipe for a three layer cake I had written about previously and converted it into something a lot lower maintenance.
The sponge is lightly spiced with grated courgette and a hint of lemon. It is delicious but it it is the icing that is the real game changer. Instead of using cream cheese I used a small packet of goats cheese and mixed it in with the butter and icing sugar instead. It is very similar to feta but less salty and offers a unique tang to the icing, again helping to break up the sweetness. Vegetables and goats cheese in a cake sound rather weird but trust me, it's the tits.
I used a Texan sized muffin tin. Two of them to be exact. The trick to these being fool-proof is butter. All the butter. Get good knobs of softened butter in your fingers and smear it all about, don't be shy. Cut squares of baking paper to place at the bottom of each hole as well otherwise the bases will be a lost cause regardless of how much dairy fat you smother on. Not so much butter that you've got great big yellow streaks but enough so that the sides of the pan are super glossy. Do this even if you've got a so called non-stick muffin tin for extra safety.
Forage around for decorative flowers and foliage. Just be sure to google the flowers and greens first if you're not too sure if they're edible. It would be somewhat of a faux pas if you managed to give every cake recipient a crook belly. I used wee sprigs of thyme, some violas and dianthus for these ones here.
Lemon Courgette Cakes with Lemon Goat's Cheese Icing
Adapted from Layered by Tessa Huff.
Makes 12 small cakes
(For the three x 20cm layer cake version click here)
For the cakes:
315g plain flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon nutmeg
150ml sunflower oil
300g white sugar
Zest of 2 regular sized lemons
3 large eggs
350g fresh courgette, grated, then moisture removed by squeezing in a tea towel a couple of times
3 (45ml) tablespoons of milk
Juice of ½ a regular sized lemon
For the lemon goat’s cheese icing:
115g plain goats cheese (unsalted and ash free)
115g salted butter, softened
300g icing sugar
A squeeze of lemon to bring to desired consistency
Preheat the oven to 170 degrees Celsius on bake. Grease and line 12 holes worth of Texan muffin pan (see notes above re greasing these).
Mix together the oil, sugar and lemon zest using a standmixer or electric beater for two minutes. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well between each addition.
Sieve in the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and spices then slowly mix together until just combined.
Mix the milk and the lemon juice together. Next, take the freshly grated courgette, bundle it up in a clean tea towel and twist the towel, squeezing out as much moisture as you can; do this to the courgette a couple of times. Add both the courgette and the lemon-milk mix to the batter and gently mix through.
Divide the batter across the 12 pans, I used a big ice cream scoop to do this but a 1/3 cup measure will also do the trick.
Bake for 15-17 minutes until the tops are golden brown and a skewer or sharp knife comes out just clean (but still steams up when removed). Leave to cool fully before even thinking about icing.
To make the icing, cream together the goats cheese and the butter until smooth. Add in the icing sugar and beat a wee bit before adding in a small squeeze of lemon juice. Beat well and add the lemon juice bit by bit until you get a soft but still pipable icing (you don't want it to be sloppy).
Remove the cakes from the pan, worst case scenario carefully run a sharp knife around the edges of the pans to release the cakes. If they have developed domes on the top, take a serrated knife and level them out before placing upside down.
Fill a piping bag fitted with a large round tip nozzle and pipe large dollops on the tops of each cake. Decorate with a sprig of greenery, a thread of lemon zest and a wee flower or two.
Best eaten the day of making.