Wednesday, 1 May 2013

And the mystery ingredient is...

Swede. Honestly, it is. And it's really, really good - the cake I mean.

I've been very inspired since talking to the lovely lady who runs the Blackberry Cottage cake business - cakes with hidden ingredients - who I met at the Parsonage Farm Spring Market the other week. She'd sold out of her swede cake, but I was intrigued because I've had a swede pretty much every week in my veg box and frankly, it's getting a bit difficult to think of new and exciting ways to eat it. Yes, I raved about the soup, but  I'm only fasting on 2 days a week and I've only got so much space in the freezer. We've also had swede chips, as well as plenty of plain old mashed swede, and I've found an Ottolenghi recipe that I'll be trying out for a remoulade type salad, but cake? Really?

I turned for further inspiration to Harry Eastwood's gorgeous book Red Velvet & Chocolate Heartache. I have had it for a year or so, but - oh the shame - have not made anything out of it. It's a beautifully presented book, loads of wonderful cakes that you can almost smell off the pages, very pretty and evocative photography, and each cake has a little 'personality' which stays mostly on the cute side of twee. She also uses LOADS of veg in her creations. It's great bed time reading. Not only that, but 2 different cakes using swede. A lemon & lavender loaf, and an orange & rosemary drizzle cake.

I opted for the second, having lots of rosemary in the garden and no lavender as yet, and the results, well, see for yourself.

The addition of rosemary to the drizzle syrup adds extra interest but the flavour works really well with the orange, and I promise, there's not even a hint of swede. The idea of using swede puree instead of butter is a brilliant one, and based on the success of this, I will be trying it out in other things. We don't have intolerances in our house, but I can see that it would be fantastic for anyone with a dairy intolerance. Also, it uses rice flour which is gluten free. Marvellous.

Finally, I should just mention that while you can of course chop your swede with a knife, I used my Tefal Fresh Express Max which I have received as part of my membership of the Tefal Innovation Panel. I have to say that of the 3 pieces of equipment I have received, this is the one I have been most ambivalent about. However, for this recipe, the chopping cone did the job, and made easy work of the swede.

Orange & Rosemary Drizzle Cake

400g peeled swede, chopped quite small
4 medium eggs (or 2 largish ones and 2 smallish ones, our chickens not laying to conform with Government standards)
50g clear honey
150g caster sugar
finely grated zest of 4 oranges
125g white rice flour
200g ground almonds
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt

plus (for the drizzle):

6 tbsp granulated sugar plus 1 for sprinkling
250ml water
8 tbsp freshly squeezed orange juice
6 sprigs rosemary

You will also need a lined tray bake tin

First deal with the swede - cover it with water, bring to the boil and cook for 7 minutes or so, till cooked. Drain, then blitz to a puree.

Combine the rice flour, ground almonds, salt and baking powder in a bowl and set aside. In another, larger bowl, whisk together the honey, sugar and eggs for a good couple of minutes, till frothy. Stir in the orange zest, the flour & almond mixture, and finally whisk in the swede puree till it's all combined. Scrape into the tin, smooth, and bake for about 20-25 minutes, turning once during cooking if necessary.

While the cake is cooking, prepare the drizzle by putting the 6tbsp of granulated sugar, water, orange juice and rosemary into a small pan. Bring it gently to the boil, and when the water is bubbling so you can't see the rosemary, remove the pan from the heat, and leave for the rosemary to infuse into the liquid.

Once the cake is baked, take it out of the oven, and still in the tin, prick holes all over the cake using your preferred cake pricking implement. Carefully drizzle the rosemary-scented syrup all over the cake (you may have too much - use your judgement) then sprinkle the final tablespoon of granulated over the top and leave to cool.

Although Harry Eastwood thinks her orange & rosemary drizzle cake is "... that moment when a white hot sunbeam inches over your cheek, and wakes you up with a smile...", suggesting a morning type of cake (breakfast, even??), having smelt it coming out of the oven, I think mine has great possibilities as a warm pudding type cake - I think it's the almonds - served with some mascarpone. I'll leave that thought with you.

I'll be adding this to the lovely Karen's Herbs on Saturday once May's challenge is open, for the rosemary of course, and also to Ren's Simple and in Season which looks like it's still open on her blog for April.


  1. This looks really lovely. The cake seems beautifully light. I've been a bit sceptical about veggie cakes but I might give this one a go!

    1. Thanks Pippa. To be honest, I wasn't' sure, but I am totally convinced - lovely cake and very light too.

  2. I'm very curious about this RJ. I too have been dealing with a lot of swede at the moment.. This looks really lovely. I'm impressed, I would never have thought of swede in a cake. I would have to keep schtum about it though..

  3. Replies
    1. I know! quite amazing really. I still can't get over how good it turned out.

  4. Good old swede! Almost picked one up during my shop the other day - will now I know it's perfect for soup AND cake :)

  5. I have tried courgettes, carrots and beets in cakes, but I don'tthink I hav ever heard of a swede cake. Usually I just tick it off in the veg box, or just add to the soups, but not the biggest fan of it. Great idea!

  6. That sounds delicious! I have never heard of Swede in a cake, but I can see that it would work! :) I love swede with plenty of butter and black pepper, but this sounds equally good! :)

    1. Well it's definitely a good way of using swede up!

  7. Hm interesting! Got a nice big swede in my last box! It seems that almost any veg can be made in a cake...

  8. Looks fab - I'm a big fan of vegetable cakes (carrot, courgette, parsnip, squash) but swede is a new one on me. I have this book too, but do wish I'd looked more closely at it before buying it given the preponderance of ground almond recipes (useless to me due to allergy!). Glad you're finding it a good book.


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