entertainingfoodFood & Drinkin the kitchen withkristina gillrecipes

in the kitchen with: matt and kristina

by Grace Bonney

I can’t decide which season is best to make this cake—summer for the zucchini or autumn for the apples, but I can tell you that it is one of my absolute favorite cakes to make. I came across the recipe in the Observer Food Monthly in 2007 in an article that Nigel Slater wrote about a visit to biodynamic farm, Fern Verrow*, in the Black Mountains in England. It is so easy and so good, for most of the winter I make it almost every Saturday when I get back from weekly shopping at the market and the farm. It is the staple for my sidekick’s breakfast each week. (Alternating between Lena Corwin’s pumpkin cranberry loaf and sometimes Denyse Schmidt’s Cranberry Scones) I’ve never tried any variations, but I am sure it lends itself well to experiments with carrots and/or other dried fruits. –Kristina

About the Author, Nigel Slater: I was first introduced to Nigel Slater when I read an in-depth chapter about him in Neale Whitaker’s book, The Accidental Foodie. So eloquent was the conversation, I went right out and bought Toast, Slater’s autobiography. I also bought the Kitchen Diaries and a handful of his other cookbooks—because I’m that kind of person. It is a pure joy to read and cook from his books. Slater is a cook who writes. Author of seven cookery books, an autobiography and presenter of the BBC television series A Taste of my Life, his latest book is Eating for England. You can read his weekly column in the Observer, where he has been food columnist for sixteen years.

Nigel Slater very kindly granted his permission for me to share this recipe here. (This is another shoot from the series done in the studio of Matt Armendariz. Vintage props, styling, photography, and Christmas iPod playlist all thanks to Matt!).

CLICK HERE for Nigel’s Courgette Cake Recipe or just click “read more” below…

Courgette Cake

200g butter, softened at room temperature (1 ¾ stick)
200g caster sugar (1 cup)
2 eggs
150g zucchini (about 2 small ones)
1 small apple
200g plain flour (1.6 cups)
Large pinch salt
½ teaspoon baking powder
Large pinch cinnamon
60g pecans (half cup, chopped)
80g sultanas (half cup, packed)

Preheat oven at 180°C (fan-forced 160°C). Grease and line the base of a loaf tin measuring 20cm x 12cm x 9cm deep. Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat eggs and mix them in, one at a time, making sure each is fully incorporated before adding the next. Meanwhile, coarsely grate zucchini and apple. Squeeze them with your hands to remove any excess moisture, then add to mixture. Mix flour, salt, baking powder and cinnamon, and gently fold into mixture. Stir in nuts and fruit. Transfer to lined loaf tin and bake for 60-65 minutes or until golden and firm to the touch. Allow to cool in tin before turning out.

Note: to keep the apples from turning dark and therefore keeping the crumb from turning too dark, use the apples immediately after using. Your cake will remain more golden. Walnuts may be used in place of pecans. Golden raisins are also a nice touch, as is an extra huge addition of cinnamon, if that’s what you like.

*Fern Verrow has a stand at London’s fantastic Borough Market each week.

Suggested For You


  • 1 cup of sugar for such a small loaf is a little crazy! I wonder if you could cut it by half? I did that with my favorite muffin recipe and it worked fine.

  • Ooooh! Now I know what I need to shop for tonight. This looks scrumptious and like an excellent companion for a pot of tea. Now I just need to order up a good book and a rainy day…


  • That moody cast-iron photo is gorgeous. I love how the styling/photography of this column has fit in so well with the rest of design-sponge’s content.
    I do have to sheepishly admit, however, that I don’t have a clue what sultanas are – can someone help me out here?

  • Oooh, the photo styling and the recipe look so yummy. I think I might have to try this out this weekend. It’s been cold and rainy. I think sultanas are raisins?

  • Hi Amy,

    200g actually comes out to be 1 1/8 cup of sugar, so if you use 1 cup, you’d be using less than what the recipe calls for anyway. With the apple included you could probably get away with using less. Make a note of how much sugar you use and let us know how it comes out!


  • Ah, raisins. I narrowed it down to the dark things in the top corner, but still wondered if it was some sort of clove or something, it was hard to see. Thanks.

  • I found a similar recipe online last summer for “zucchini bread” with candied ginger, poppy seeds, dates, figs and a pinch of harissa. (I usually add more stuff than the recipe calls for.) It was a hit with everyone! Now I’ve got to try it with apples.

  • The top photo is beautiful, thank you! I love the sounds of the recipe…how can you go wrong with fruit AND veg in a tea loaf, I will certainly try it out soon,
    PS I have found an excellent source for converting ingredient measures from UK to US at http://www.tafn.org.uk

  • This is one of those “smack myself on the forehead” moments.
    I’ve always felt sort of luke warm towards zucchini bread but, the addition of apples etc and I’m getting that giddy, excited feeling I get in anticipation of a new recipe! Yea!

  • Hi Victoria! Thanks for explaining about the sultanas! I just try to use golden raisins because I never remember to look for sultanas when I’m out.

    For anyone inclined to visit, you can read more about Fern Verrow, the biodynamic farm that’s made quite a name for itself, you can click here.

  • I just made this recipe. Very delicious and buttery (just the way I love everything to be). I did have to make some minor adjustments though because I spontaneously decided to bake after seeing your pretty pictures.
    I only had one small zucchini, so I grated a carrot and some fresh ginger with it. I didn’t have pecans, so I added walnuts. I also have crystallized ginger in my cupboard and don’t know what to do with it, so I chopped some up and threw it in. I didn’t have raisins, but I had cranberries. This is still your recipe, I assure you. I just changed all the ingredients! I will definitely make it again.

  • I tried substituting flax seed meal and water for the eggs, and the results were wonderful! The flax gave the bread a lovely earthy flavor and aroma, and also makes the recipe a little more Vegan friendly! (One egg= 3 tbsp of water with 1 tbsp of flax, beaten until it maintains and egg white-like consistency).

  • I made this recipe last night, and it’s marvelous! I used golden raisins and two pinches of cinnamon, and the bread came out perfectly – great texture, subtle flavors – it’s great with a cup of english breakfast tea.

  • I made this recipe twice now, and I halved the sugar and used whole wheat flour instead of white. It is the BEST breakfast cake I’ve ever had, and so easy and quick to make. You definitely don’t need all the sugar.

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