Tuesday, 2 September 2014

Courgette and Hazelnut Loaf

This is another recipe suitable for the unseasonable dull weather that has characterised most of August - this cake, from the BBC Good Food website, made from an over-grown courgette and some foraged fresh hazelnuts, has warmth from nutmeg and cinnamon, and sweetness from sultanas rather than a lot of sugar.

I haven't had a particularly good year in the vegetable garden. What was once a triangle of land which received sunlight in the afternoon is now a dark and cold corner of the garden which receives much less light, as our neighbours trees are getting so large. However, the courgettes have produced enough fruit to keep us well supplied, although it's nowhere near the excess we've had in previous years. The courgette I used for this recipe is one which hid under a leaf until it was too big to be called a courgette. After taking out the seeds and wringing out any excess moisture in a tea-towel there was just the right amount needed for the recipe (350g).

Fresh Cobnuts

Hazelnut Thief!
Although I moan about the shade from our neighbours trees, and blame them for our poor harvest, they have provided some of the hazelnuts used in this recipe. We also managed to get a few from the small twisted hazel tree in our garden, before this squirrel took them all, and my husband has been coming back from his morning walk with pockets full of what look like cobnuts, found in a local park.

Shelled Fresh Nuts
One advantage of really fresh hazelnuts is that they don't have the thick brown skin which needs removing before use. Once I'd shelled the nuts for the recipe, I chopped them roughly, then roasted them for 10 minutes to accentuate the flavour. I then used them in place of the walnuts in the recipe. This was the only change I made, apart from squeezing out some of the moisture from the coarsely grated courgettes. Even after this, I found the cake took 75 minutes to cook, rather than the hour suggested in the recipe.

Any cake containing grated fresh fruit or vegetables runs the risk of turning out too dense and very close-textured because of the extra moisture, but this cake turned out very well. It wasn't as light as the Courgette and Lemon Cake I made back in May, but I think it's the next best attempt at getting a light-textured cake, so far. The cake crumb still had a springy texture, and the fruit and nuts were well dispersed. Green flecks from the courgette skin could still be seen in places, which I always like to see! I also liked the large pieces of hazelnut - I usually chop nuts a little finer than this, but here the crunch was a good contrast to the chewy sultanas.


Alicia Foodycat said...

You are lucky! I grabbed some of our hazelnuts when the squirrels started to hit the trees and none of them had a properly-formed nut inside! We've had them before and they have been fine but this year the squirrels were over-eager.

snowy said...

How lucky to find cobnuts. I love hazelnuts too, so this cake sounds ideal and looks very tasty. A great way of using courgettes.

Phil in the Kitchen said...

I like that combination of nuts and courgettes. Courgettes are wonderful plants - they seem to try hard even if the conditions are against them. In my case neglect has led to a few marrows and I should have made some cakes rather than stuffing them all. I came across some fine cobnuts this morning, but sadly it was in the local supermarket and not the park.

Karen S Booth said...

Oh yes, what a great combination as Phil has already said - a great cake for the courgettes glut too! Karen