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…
200g butter, softened at room temperature (1 ¾ stick)
200g caster sugar (1 cup)
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.