July 16, 2018

COURGETTE CAKE - ways of using a glut of courgettes #1 and the tale of things that go bump in the night.

courgette cake

Our courgette plants are doing really well at the moment, to the extent that we can hardly keep up with the supply of them.  We have been giving them away (as you do) and eating loads in the usual favourite recipes.  In an effort to avoid temptation to put them on the compost heap, I have been looking for other ways of using them.

courgette cake2

A courgette cake is hardly a radical concept these days and I remember taking my first chocolate courgette cake to work and feeding it to my astonished colleagues at least fifteen years ago.  None of them guessed that the “mystery ingredient” contained therein was courgette, despite the flecks of green in the cake!

This time I was looking for a recipe that used more than just one or two skinny little courgettes and when consulting the internet, Nigella’s recipe was alluded to as a good one more than once.  Luckily I had availed myself of a copy of her relevant cookbook, “How to be a domestic goddess” in a local charity shop only recently so was able to follow the recipe on paper – so much easier than on my iPad where I keep having to reload it at crucial moments – goodness only knows how anyone manages to cook from their mobile phone.

courgette cake3

As usual I had to adapt the recipe a bit for what I had in stock.  I used her tip on using shop bought lemon or lime curd and sharpening it with a dash of lime juice.  I didn’t have any raisins to hand (they were a casualty of the “things that go bump in the night” incident recently) so used a tablespoon of home made mincemeat that I had in the fridge.  I had no pistachios so decorated the top with slivers of lime zest.  Last but not least, I found the quantity of cream cheese icing to be rather a lot so didn’t put all of it on the cake.  About two thirds of the stated amount would have been enough.

After adding the flour the mixture was rather stiff and my instinct was to add a splash of milk to loosen it a bit.  But I have found that Nigella’s recipes always work so soldiered on and hey presto – once the courgettes are added the mixture becomes sensible again.  I should never have doubted…….

courgette cake4

So there we are, one courgette cake, or in my case, courgette, lemon, lime and mincemeat cake, but that is rather a mouthful.

It was delicious.  Thinking about it, there was no actual flavouring in the cake.  Courgettes have no flavour and there was no vanilla, spice or zest of any kind.  It was all in the filling and topping.  However, it had a lovely moist texture and went down really well at a gathering where the boys watched France win the World Cup on TV and the girls sat on the terrace sipping chilled rosé wine.  Some say the French won the day but personally I think it was us girls…….

As for the “bump in the night” incident, we were watching TV late one evening and got to a tense action part of “Designated Survivor” when there was an almighty crash and the sound of breaking glass coming from the other end of the house. 

All four of us (me, Nick, our visitor and Hugo) dashed to see what was going on and peered cautiously round the door of the utility room, fearing – who knows what.

The tiled floor was covered in a sea of broken glass, jam, olives, gherkins and other miscellaneous contents of the wall cupboard.  Including, as it turns out, my packet of raisins.  The doors of the cupboard were still closed.

The culprit was not Daisy this time, or even a burglar, but the two little front top shelf supports that had broken, tipping the shelf and its contents out of the cupboard and onto the floor with such force that the doors having been flung open bounced back again and remained closed.



250g courgettes, weighed before grating

2 large eggs

125ml vegetable oil

150g caster sugar

225g self raising flour

1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda

1/2 tsp baking powder

1 large tblsp mincemeat

For the topping and filling

2 tblsp home made lime or lemon curd OR shop bought lemon curd sharpened with a little lime juice

200g cream cheese*

100g icing sugar*

juice and zest of 1 lime


Preheat the oven to 180°C / 160° fan / gas mk 4.  Grease and line the bases of two 20cm sponge tins.

Wipe the courgettes clean but do not peel them.  Grate them using the course side of a box grater.  Squeeze small handfuls and place in a sieve over a bowl to allow any more liquid to drip out.

Beat together the eggs, oil and sugar with an electric whisk until light and creamy.  Sieve in the flour, baking powder and bicarb and beat again to combine.  Stir in the courgettes and mincemeat until combined. 

Divide evenly between the two tins and level the tops.  Bake for 30 minutes until firm and golden brown.  Cool in the tin for a few minutes then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

For the filling, take two tblsp of shop bought lemon curd and add a dash or two of lime juice to sharpen it to taste, mixing well.

In a small bowl, beat the cream cheese until smooth and sift in the icing sugar, beating well.  Add lime juice to taste.

When the cakes are cold, sandwich the two together with the lemon curd.  Spread the cream cheese on top and scatter a few slivers of lime zest over to decorate.

*consider using about a third less cream cheese and icing sugar for the topping as I found the above quantity too much.

Cuts into 8-10 slices.


  1. I tell myself every year to cut down on the number of courgette plants that I grow - just one would probably be enough, to be honest - but I don't listen. So, of course, I have a glut and baking a fine courgette cake such as this sounds like an excellent notion around about now. I'm very sorry to hear about your cupboard incident but I'm relieved to hear that it was just shelf supports that were to blame. I was starting to imagine paranormal events.

    1. Phil, I did have reservations about living in an ancient French farmhouse, where I'm sure there must have been many a trauma over the centuries, in case there were reminders of such things lurking in the corners and waiting to scare us. Especially as we live in the middle of a field where the nights are pitch dark in the way that we no longer experience darkness in most of the UK, the only light coming from the moon or stars. (And the occasional glow worm.)
      However, we need not have worried. The place is calm and tranquil at night, the only rustling noises coming from the deer in the field at the back of the house and even the hooting of the owls no longer sounds even the slightest bit "Midsomer Murders".

  2. Yikes, the bump in the night sounds pretty freaky! Your courgette cake sounds lovely though, even if the raisins never made it. I like your idea of adding the mincemeat instead - inspired! I've never tried a courgette cake but have always felt intrigued by them.