THE BLOG

Eat Your Greens - in Cake!

13/02/2014 12:31 GMT | Updated 14/04/2014 10:59 BST

Kale in a cupcake? Before you start backing out of the room, remember that carrot cake doesn't cause concern and there was a time when your smoothies were any colour but green.

By now we've all heard, ad nauseam, about the health benefits of superfood-of-the-moment, kale. Well, if it's good for you in dinner, why not add it to desserts? They'll make those empty cake calories a little less empty and brighten up your cake stand.

You can't taste carrot in the ubiquitous carrot cake, and similarly other vegetables in cakes normally can't be tasted. Vegetables bulk out cakes, provide natural sugars and nutrients to desserts and mean that less fat and refined sugar has to be added. The high moisture content of the vegetables also means that cakes with them last ages without drying out, and they often add amazing colours without any need for food dyes. With so many benefits, vegetables should now become an essential part of baking.

Vibrant green kale cupcakes. They make vanilla cupcakes seem so... vanilla.

Kale and Orange Cupcakes with Orange icing (10-12 servings)

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For the cupcakes:

100g (2 cups, packed) raw kale leaves

150g ( ½ cup) unsalted butter, softened

150g (3/4 cup) granulated sugar

2 eggs

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 orange, zest and juice

200g (1 ½ cups) plain flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

½ teaspoon salt

For the icing:

75g ( 1/3 cup) unsalted butter, softened

250g (2 cups) powdered icing sugar

2-3 tablespoons orange juice

  • Preheat oven to 170C/325F. Line or grease a muffin tray.
  • Discard the woody stalks and tear the kale leaves into bite-sized pieces. Simmer or steam for a few minutes until tender. Run under cold water to refresh, then drain well and puree the kale - it will still be a bit stringy.
  • In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugar with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs one at a time, and then add in the kale, vanilla, zest and orange juice and continue to beat until well combined.
  • Sift the flour, baking powder and salt into the kale mixture and stir to mix.
  • Fill the muffin cups ¾ full and bake for 15-20 minutes or until an inserted skewer comes out clean. Cool in the tins for 10 minutes then remove to a wire rack to cool completely on a wire rack. Frost with the buttercream when cold.

For the icing:

  • Cream the butter in a large bowl until fluffy. Sift in the powdered icing sugar and beat with an electric mixer until thick. Add enough orange juice to make it a thick frosting consistency. Store in the fridge until ready to use.

Spinach and Vanilla Cake (serves 10)

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200g (1 ¼ cups) spinach (raw or frozen)

3 eggs

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

175g (¾ cup) sugar

100g (½ cup) applesauce

100ml (½ cup) rapeseed or vegetable oil

250g (2 cups) plain flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

½ teaspoon salt

  • Preheat oven to 180C/350F. Grease and line a round cake tin.
  • Puree the fresh spinach, or thaw the frozen spinach and squeeze out any excess water then puree finer.
  • In a large bowl, beat the eggs, oil, vanilla, applesauce and sugar together. Beat in the spinach puree. Sift in the flour, baking powder and salt into the bowl and gently stir to combine.
  • Pour the batter into the prepared cake tins and bake for 45 minutes or until an inserted skewer comes out clean. Allow the cake to cool for 2 minutes in the tin, then turn onto a wire rack to cool completely. Frost as desired.

Kale and Apple Cake with Apple Icing (serves 10)

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200g (2 cups, packed) fresh kale leaves

3 eggs

100ml (½ cup) rapeseed or vegetable oil

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

100g (½ cup) applesauce

175g (¾ cup) sugar

2 regular eating apples, peeled and grated

250g (2 cups) plain flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

½ teaspoon salt

For the icing:

250g (1 ¼ cups) powdered icing sugar

2 tablespoons butter, softened

2 tablespoons smooth applesauce

½ teaspoon vanilla extract

  • Preheat oven to 180C/350F. Grease and line 2 x 9" cake pans.
  • Discard any woody stalks and tear the kale leaves into bite-sized pieces. Simmer or steam for a few minutes until tender, then refresh under cold water, drain well and puree (it will still be a bit stringy).
  • In a large bowl, beat the eggs, oil, vanilla, applesauce and sugar together well. Add in the kale puree and grated apple and beat. Sift in the flour, baking powder and salt and gently stir to combine.
  • Pour the batter into the prepared cake pans and bake for 30 minutes or until an inserted skewer comes out clean. Allow the cake to cool for 2 minutes in the pans and then turn onto a wire rack to cool completely before icing.

For the icing:

  • Sift the icing sugar into a large bowl, add the other ingredients and beat with an electric mixer until smooth. Refrigerate until ready to use.

For more vegetable cake recipes, check out Veggie Desserts.