Friday, 15 April 2016

Cauliflower and Apple Cake

If your first thought on reading this post title is 'Why?', then I have to say that was my reaction too! Why use cauliflower in a cake?  The recipe featured in April's edition of Waitrose Food magazine as 'Dish of the Month' and comes from award-winning patissier and chocolatier Will Torrent. The introduction says that although baking with cauliflower may seem unusual, it works well with the flavours of apple, white chocolate and coconut. I discussed the recipe with a group of internet friends and the general opinion was that, although the photo of the cake looked attractive, using cauliflower in a sweet cake didn't sound very pleasant. I decided to take up the challenge!

The recipe is based on using a food processor, which I don't have, so I had to adapt the method a little. I also didn't want a layer cake, so baked the cake in a larger tin, and used 2/3 of the buttercream in the recipe, just as a topping

150g unsalted butter, softened, plus a little extra for greasing
150g cauliflower, in small florets
150g caster sugar
2 small braeburn apples, grated (I used 1 1/2 large apples and peeled and cored them, although the recipe doesn't specify peeling.)
2 eggs (mine were large)
175g plain flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
50g sultanas
50g desiccated coconut

*Buttercream (the amounts I used):
50g white chocolate, chopped
100g unsalted butter, softened
110g icing sugar, sifted
1 tablespoon milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
extra cinnamon (optional)
25g toasted desiccated coconut optional)

**My Method
Grease and base line a 20cm springform tin.
Simmer the cauliflower in boiling water for 16 minutes until very soft, cool under a running tap then drain, and dry on layers of kitchen towel.
Pre-heat oven to 180C, gas 4.
Sift together the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and cinnamon.
Process the cauliflower and grated apple in a small food processor to make a purée.
In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat the butter and sugar until well combined, then beat in the eggs, one at a time, with a tablespoonful of the flour mixture.
On the slowest mixer speed (or by hand) mix in the cauliflower and apple purée and the rest of the flour mixture.
Lastly, fold in the sultanas and coconut by hand.
Transfer the batter to the baking tin, level the surface and bake for about 45 minutes, until a test probe comes out clean. Cover after 35 minutes if it's getting too brown.
Cool in the tin for 15 minutes then transfer to a wire rack.
For the buttercream, melt the white chocolate with 25g of the butter and the milk, in a bowl over a pan of barely simmering water, stirring occasionally until smooth, then cool slightly. Meanwhile beat the rest of the butter, the icing sugar and the vanilla extract together until light and fluffy. Beat in the chocolate mixture, then spread the frosting over the cake. Decorate, if desired, with a light dusting of cinnamon and some toasted coconut.

**The food processor method was to first chop the cauliflower into small pieces, then pulse in the butter, sugar and apple. Gradually add the beaten eggs before sifting in the flour, cinnamon and raising agents. Pulse to combine, then fold in the sultanas and coconut. 
The original cake was baked in a 18cm tin for 45-55 minutes, then split in half when cooled. 

*A larger amount of frosting was made by melting the 75g white chocolate on it's own and stirring it into a buttercream made from 150g butter, 175g icing sugar, 1 1/2 tablespoons milk and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract, and used to sandwich and top the cake layers. I couldn't bring myself to melt the chocolate on it's own as I always have trouble melting white chocolate - hence my method of adding some of the butter and the milk to stop it getting too hot and seizing.

The result really surprised me! This odd assortment of ingredients produced a delicious, moist and incredibly light textured cake with a delicate cinnamon flavour. I couldn't taste either the apples or the cauliflower at all (fortunately, perhaps!) and even the coconut didn't come through strongly. The cake wasn't over-sweet, which meant that the very sweet white chocolate and vanilla frosting was a nice counterbalance to the cake. The one disconcerting note about the cake was that although I couldn't taste it in the raw batter or finished cake, there was a strong smell of cauliflower while the cake was baking!

Perhaps it was the subtle blending of all the ingredients which produced such a surprisingly tasty cake, but I think I'm still asking the question of why the cauliflower was used at all? Apart from the novelty value of telling people that there's cauliflower in the cake (and I didn't tell my husband until after he'd eaten it) the only reason I can come up with it that the apples and cauliflower add bulk, and perhaps moisture, but not so many calories. A similar sized cake would normally use more sugar, butter and egg.

1 comment:

Snowy said...

What an intriguing cake; cauliflower seems to be much in favour these days, being used instead of rice, as pizza bases etc, but I haven't heard of it in a cake before. It looks very good, and I'm glad it tasted good too.