When we are on holiday in France the generosity of our friends and neighbours never ceases to amaze and delight us. After five years of having our holiday home you would think it should no longer surprise us, but it always does, and it’s such a complete joy.
Our friends will bring us the surplus from their vegetable gardens when they come to visit, we come away from their homes with armfuls of fruit and veg, and our neighbour just leaves little parcels of it on the doorstep for us to find. This holiday has been no exception and although gardening has been challenging in France this year, just like it has at home, our friends have still been kind to us and passed on some of their goodies.
So, with a basketful of beautiful tomatoes and squash in our cellar, I was looking through my folder of recipes for something to make with courgettes and came across a recipe for courgette and lemon cake. I first saw the recipe on my friend Diane’s blog, so printed it out from the website – you can see the original here.
However, I was rummaging through the cupboards in my little French kitchen to see whether I had all of the ingredients and found this part used packet of poppy seeds lurking at the back:
Which reminded me of this month’s Random Recipe Challenge, “store cupboard finds” – the brainchild of the lovely Dom at Bellau Kitchen, which was to cook with some long forgotten ingredient found at the back of the cupboard.
I had actually already done this rummaging exercise in my English kitchen before we came on holiday and brought some ancient tins of foodstuffs on holiday with me, knowing I would have more time to do something with them on holiday than at home. But somehow I never got around to using them. No doubt they will be returned to the back of the same cupboard, having crossed the English Channel in both directions !! But I certainly did not want to waste my lovely round courgette so I walked down the hill from our little cottage to the Thursday morning market in the village to buy a lemon. Poppy seeds often appear teamed with lemons in a cake so I thought I would add some to this recipe and see what happened.
The cake was really easy to make, the flavour of the lemon and cinnamon were lovely and it was not too sweet. The courgettes made it nice and moist and the poppy seeds made the texture more interesting. It was not the most glamorous looking cake I have ever made but I will definitely be making it again. It’s a great way to use up a glut of courgettes too.
Here’s my version of the recipe:
200g grated courgette
150g caster sugar
125 ml vegetable oil
200g plain flour
½ tsp salt
½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
¼ tsp baking powder
1 tsp ground cinnamon
the finely grated zest of one lemon
1 tblsp poppy seeds
Preheat the oven to 160°C/150°fan/gas mk 3. Grease a small loaf tin and line with a strip of baking paper that goes along the bottom and up both sides (this helps you to lift the cake out when it is cooked). If you are using a fan oven it may help to fix the paper to the ends of the tin with paper clips or bulldog clips, to stop it wafting onto the top of the cake.
In a large bowl, beat the courgette, sugar, egg and oil together.
Sift in the flour, salt, bicarb and baking powder. Add the lemon zest, poppy seeds and cinnamon. Stir together until just combined. Pour the mixture into the tin.
Bake for 45-50 minutes until firm and golden and the cake passes the skewer test. Cool in the tin for ten minutes then remove and place on a wire rack to cool completely.
When cold cut into thick slices.