Real Men Sow is one year old on Thursday. To celebrate this landmark, I’d planned many exciting events and ideas, like sister sites and world allotment domination. In the end, real-life got in the way so instead, I’m going to bake a birthday cake.
But what cake to bake? Obviously, it’s got to have an allotment connection, and this is my shortlist:
Jamie Oliver’s Beetroot Surprise Cake (pictured, © David Loftus)
I first tried this recipe at my family’s annual Winter Solstice dinner a couple of years back. We try to make a dinner using as much of our own grown, caught or foraged produce as possible, and after the sloe ice cream experiment hadn’t quite come off as planned, I was struggling for a dessert.
Luckily, I still had a few straggler baby beets left in the ground from summer that were just about on their last legs. Not all that desirable fresh in a salad, but were a whole different proposition grated into a cake.
The thing I like about the Beetroot Surprise cake is its earthiness. The beets give it that taste of the ground that sounds like it might be horrendous but is actually rather pleasant.
Carl Legge’s Rhubarb and Polenta Cake
I made this after seeing it on Carl’s excellent blog, Llyn Lines. When he posted the recipe, someone commented that it looked so good, they wanted to lick the screen. The vanilla essence, crystallized ginger, and rhubarb combine delightfully to produce a genuine indulgence. Particularly good with a large dollop of custard.
Upside Down Greengage Cake
Although not strictly allotment fare, the greengages I got this year didn’t come from very far away. I’d recommend using more gages than the recipe does, especially to get the cake moister.
Still, it’s a deliciously different thing to do with greengages, and as the recipe says, you can use a whole multitude of fruit if you’d prefer.
River Cottage Apple and Almond Pudding Cake
We had a funny morning at work eating this. I made it for my birthday but didn’t read the recipe properly. Only once we cut the cake did I realize that the ‘pudding’ in the title means stodgy, soft, and to be eaten in a bowl, not in hands like a traditional coffee shop slice.
I substituted half the almonds for walnuts, which gave the cake a crunchier texture (this wasn’t me being clever, I’d just run out of almonds).
Butternut Squash Cake
I (probably incorrectly!) call this is a ‘healthy’ cake, on the basis that it comes from Go Faster Food, by Kate Percy. I borrowed my much faster, fitter brother-in-law’s copy which he used a lot when training for an ironman this year, and given that this book is essentially about fuelling your body better, I decided this cake must be good for me.
It’s full of good stuff, and I convince myself that this cake is guilt-free, although I suppose the idea is that you do follow the cake with some exercise later in the day…
I’m not sure you can call a crumble a cake, but this traditional classic is my favourite thing to do with allotment fruit, whether it be apples, pears, plums, or rhubarb. I make a crumble in a ramekin dish – it’s dead easy, but the best part is that this is like a snack-size cake. The trouble with making cakes is that you end up eating the whole thing, a ramekin is just the right size to reduce a treat to the not-too-naughty level…
And one to try?
Gooseberry and Almond Cake
Not made this one before, and I’ve got some of this year’s harvest in the freezer. I really like the concept of sinking gooseberries, and there is the last of the elderflower cordial ready and waiting in the fridge…