Yes. Spinach. Now, before you go “Ugh!” or roll your eyes, just remember back to when carrot cake was seen as something weird and possibly icky.
Cakes made with vegetables are really not new, and they can be incredibly tasty. Chocolate and beetroot, parsnip and walnut, courgette bread, sweet potato brownies and, of course, the carrot cake.
For many ideas, it’s worth while buying Harry Eastwood’s book Red Velvet and Chocolate Heartache. Lovingly written, and with excellent recipes. Her butternut squash, chocolate and peanut muffins were fabulous.
People are always wondering how to get more veggies into people who allegedly hate them, and so cake is a grand idea. Plus, if they don’t like it, then you have more cake. Win win, right?
I admit, I’m not a great fan of spinach, unless it’s mixed with either feta or paneer, so when I first tasted spinach cake at the fabulous Tas (warning: site has music when it opens) in Waterloo, I was incredulous. This sweet, light, lovely cake, made from spinach? I had to find the recipe.
Then I promptly forgot all about it.
This week, I found a recipe online at the fabulous Binnur’s Kitchen. My mum lives in Turkish Cyprus now, and when she lived in the UK she dated a Turkish Cypriot man who owned a restaurant, and so I have sampled the cuisine a lot. Turkish and Cypriot cuisines have a lot in common (yes, really, get over it) and I’m always on the lookout for new recipes to try and recreate at home.
I gave it a go.
500g of spinach leaves is a lot. It’s about three bunches of the broad leafed variety, stalks cut off. It also takes a long time to properly clean it. The bunches from the Turkish grocers always have a lot of sand on them, but it is worth it. I far prefer it to the smaller leaf variety that we generally get in the shops here.
So. After a mammoth washing of spinach, into the food processor it went. Halfway through the blending, the lid of the processor cracked! It was well over 25 years old, but seriously Braun, timing?
Cue a pause in cake making as we went off to buy a new one.
Once we got the new one set up, and I had stopped being scared of it*, I decanted the spinach and tried again.
500g spinach, pureed
3 medium eggs
1/2 cup olive oil (I’m tempted to use lemon olive oil next time)
1 1/2 cups caster sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tbs lemon juice**
2 1/2 cups plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
I whisked the eggs, sugar and vanilla together by hand, then mixed in the flour, spinach and baking powder.
It smelled lovely, and what a colour!
Poured it into a tin lined with non stick foil (oh I do love that stuff) and baked for 30 minutes at Fan 170C.
Eh voila! Cake.
I turned it out, and let it cool. It does sink a little, and it does discolour a little too.
It is a very dense cake. I suspect that there was too much olive oil, and possibly too much water from the washing.
It is, however, very tasty. It reminds me of matcha green tea ice cream. Next time, BUY LEMONS! I think I might add more vanilla and some nutmeg too.
* This is the first new electrical kitchen gadget I’ve bought in years. I’m used to knowing how everything in my kitchen works, and this new shiny thing threw me a loop.
**The recipe asked for lemon juice but *HORROR* I had no lemons! I added 2 tbs lemon olive oil to the spinach, to see if that would work.