This is possibly the quickest easiest chocolate cake ever, and it’s so Moorish – which is not good news in our household. You see, I’m crazy about cake. I wish I wasn’t, but I am. On the other hand, I like tasty food but I’m not prepared to spend most of my life in the kitchen. Ah, and I’m not very patient. So, when I get my sugary hands on an easy and quick recipe, that tastes this good, I go fanatical about it.
Why I’m fanatical about this cake
- Reasonably healthy, compared with most other cakes. Spelt flour + courgette – I mean, how virtuous is that!?
- Child-friendly: it has ‘invisible’ vegetable in it (courgette), protein from nuts (if you chose to include nuts), uses Spelt flour (the original recipe has plain flour but I prefer to cook with spelt) and it’s not too sweet. Yes, the recipe has 375g of sugar, but this is a very BIG cake.
- It makes me look like a domestic goddess: it’s big enough for a party cake or a dinner party show stopper (just add some fancy decoration), but with very little effort. And it’s not too expensive to make
- It’s easy and quick. Other than grating the courgette (which by the way is much softer than carrot and therefore easier to do a carrot cake), you could potentially put it all in in one go, which is what I do with most cakes. With this one you can put it all in the bowl except the oil at the end and then the nuts and courgette, and you’re good to go.
- The nuts are optional. If there are nut allergy concerns, just leave it out, it’s still an excellent cake.
- It uses everyday ingredients. No fancy expensive obscure ingredients you need to go on a treasure hunt to find, and that you’ll never use again. Even most supermarkets have spelt flour these days.
- It’s a generously sized cake. Many recipes I’ve tried produce disappointingly small cakes. This one has a respectable size serving 24 if done as a tray bake. Last time I baked it I made two separate cakes from it: as small round two tier one, as well as a small single round cake
- Freezes well. I froze it with chocolate ganache on top and, I tell ya, it was darn good when I had to ‘break into the freezer in case of emergency’.
375g caster sugar
65g good quality cocoa powder
250g Spelt flour or Plain flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 teaspoons bicarbonate of soda
A pinch of salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
350ml vegetable oil
350g grated courgette
80g chopped nuts (walnuts, pecans or cashew for example)
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A note on the ingredients
I like baking with Spelt flour because of its health benefits over wheat, plus it has a slightly nutty flavour and add a little texture to cakes.
I often add 30% less of the sugar specified in recipes but this one is not too sweet as is.
You don’t need to include nuts but it’s rather nice if you do. I used roasted cashew nuts which is what I had last time, but I like it better with walnuts, as it complements nicely the chocolate flavour.
I love cinnamon and always go crazy with it. The original recipe said one teaspoon so I kept that. Because I always put too much, there’s usually more of a spices aroma than a clear chocolate flavour, though it certainly looks it and the eyes also ‘eat’. So you can use your discretion there.
Prep: 15min Cook: 20-50min (see below)
I broke this recipe down into every single step but don’t be fooled by the number of bullet points – it’s really easy and quick!
- Preheat oven to 180 C / Gas 4
- Grease and flour a 20 x 30 cm baking tin
This is for guidance as it was in the original recipe. I don’t have such a big tin, but I have 3 small round cake tins so that’s what I use.
- In a big bowl, stir together the eggs, sugar, flour, cocoa, bicarbonate of soda, baking powder, salt and cinnamon
- Then add the oil and mix well
- Finally, fold in the nuts and grated courgette until they are evenly distributed
- Pour into the prepared tin.
- If using the 20 x 30 cm tin, bake for 50 to 60 minutes in the preheated oven, until a knife inserted into the centre comes out clean. When I use my small round cake tins in a fan assisted oven, usually it’s ready after 20-30 minutes.
- Let the cake (or cakes) cool completely before decorating. I know it’s hard. I don’t practice what I preach either but I feel I must be responsible here and tell you to let it cool down
I first tried it with cream cheese frosting in the middle and all over it, with decorations on top, which for a gorgeous birthday cake.
Last time, I didn’t have all the ingredients to do this so, with the leftover cream cheese I had, I made some icing for the filling between the two round cakes. I also had around 140 ml leftover cream and lots (I mean, tons!) of Easter chocolate, and no other quality or cooking chocolate, so I used it to make a chocolate ganache and poured it over the cake. Just warm the cream with the same quantity if broken chocolate until it starts thickening.
Mind you, this moisty beauty of a cake would be equally edible on its own, with no frills but a little frosting or ganache certainly adds that little ‘oomph’!
Ah! One more step…