Category: loaf

Living With Less (Zucchini Loaf)

What is the most logical thing to do after making a vow to eat healthier? Bake a zucchini cake loaf, obviously. Because, hey! Zucchini is green, and it’s a vegetable, and I’m supposed to eat more green vegetables, right? Thought so. So, what inspired me to make such a loaf today? Alas, I’ve been living in this little town village in Australia for the past few weeks, and well, when I’m not working, there’s not much to do. To give you a general idea, I’ve compiled a list of my daily leisure activities…

Things To Do in the Outback
read my book.
curl my hair.
go running hide indoors to avoid getting attacked by the world’s most venomous snakes.
slingshot pebbles at a road sign.
take photos.
hold a flashlight while a drunk guy shoots kangaroos.
do 5 pushups
recover for a few days from those pushups.
discover that there is a bag of flour in the fridge.

The thing about working in exchange for food and accommodation is that the types of food and ingredients that are kept in stock are more limited than what I’m used to. As are the baking dishes. I’m learning to live with less: I’ve got access to a 9 x 9 pan, a roll of discount parchment paper, a few measuring cups and some mixing bowls. And as for ingredients, well there is definitely no cinnamon. Nor do they keep baking soda on hand. But, they do have self-raising flour, which by the way, is my new favourite discovery. And, there’s this giant container of shredded coconut. What’s more, like all good country folk, we’ve got 4 chickens (called chooks here!), and a whole lot of eggs. I’ve decided that this is plenty to work with, and that I’d make the most of it. I’ve decided even to be thankful for this, as I’ll surely come out of this experience an extremely resourceful baker! Oh… and did I mention that the temperatures on our oven dial have been completely worn away? Disclaimer: the temp that I suggest in this recipe is an estimate based on how far I’ve turned the dial.

Now, you may still be sitting there thinking, zucchini loaf? Why would you do that? Well, you might remember my butternut squash cake, which was a hit all around. So I think you’ve just got to trust me on this one. But, if you’re still thinking, nah, this can’t be good (which is pretty much the look everyone gave me when they saw me making it), hear me out! Zucchini is 95% water. Water = moisture. Moist cakes = delicious. Also, you can play around with this recipe and throw in some add-ins to suit your taste – my suggestions are any of the following: raisins, chopped dates, dried cranberries, lemon zest, cinnamon, or chocolate chips. Oh, and it’s delish with a dollop of yogourt on top (in the name of health, I chose yogourt over ice cream. But I’m sure ice cream would be even more equally as scrumptious.)

Outback Zucchini Loaf
original recipe by Allison Sklar

what you’ll need
2 eggs
1 tbsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup oil
1 cup white sugar
1 cup grated zucchini (squeeze out the excess water!)
1 3/4 cups self-raising flour, sifted
1/2 cup shredded coconut

how to do it
Preheat oven to 325C. In a medium sized bowl, combine eggs with sugar, vanilla and oil. Beat with a fork vigourously until well blended. Add zucchini & coconut, mixing briefly. Slowly incorporate flour, folding it into the wet ingredients. Line a 9” x 9” pan with parchment paper. Pour mixture into pan. Bake for 40 to 60 minutes (ovens differ, so check it frequently after 40 minutes. Once the top is golden and a cake tester or toothpick inserted in centre comes out clean, it’s done. Do not over-bake!)


The Sweet Taste of Blood… Oranges

There is one fantastical creature in the world that has blood running throughout it’s body, and it is still considered to be vegetarian fare. Ah yes, the sweet, the juicy, the refreshing – blood orange. Blood oranges offer a magical pop of colour among the drab whites and greys of winter. They also offer superior antioxidant power compared to their plain orange counterparts, thanks to their anthocyanin content, which is the compound that is also responsible for their distinctive colouring. This peculiar citrus fruit is sweeter than a regular orange, and is about ten times as beautiful when you cut into it. It’s mystical crimson-coloured segments make for lovely dried pot-pourri, and it’s peachy marbled zest makes for an even lovelier olive oil cake!

Inspired by my one of my favorite food bloggers, and by the handful of blood oranges that I had in my fridge, I decided to have a date with my oven last night. I tried to follow the recipe as outlined on the blog that I was reading, however, I was missing one ingredient – yogourt. And, as you may recall from my previous post, I’m trying a buy-nothing week, I didn’t want to have to go get it. Rummaging through my fridge, I found a substitute – which also might just have been the magical ingredient that took this cake over the top – a tropical vanilla YOP! What does the YOP change, you ask? It makes the cake batter smell and taste like a creamsicle. Yeah. That’s right.
Childhood memories anyone?

Blood Orange YOP! Cake
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen

what you’ll need
2 blood oranges
1 cup white sugar
½  cup Vanilla YOP!
3 large eggs
2/3 cup light olive oil
¼ cup orange juice
1 ¾ cups all-purpose flour
1 ½ tsp baking powder
¼  tsp baking soda
½  tsp salt

how to do it
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter or line a 9-by-5-inch loaf pan.
Grate zest from 2 oranges and place in a bowl with sugar. Using your fingers, rub ingredients together until orange zest is evenly distributed in sugar.
Peel blood oranges with a knife, ensuring that there is no residue left. Peel away membranes. Break up segments with your fingers into small pieces.
Combine YOP! and orange juice. Pour mixture into bowl with sugar mixture and whisk well. Whisk in eggs and olive oil. In another bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Gently stir dry ingredients into wet ones. Fold in pieces of orange segments. Pour batter into prepared pan.
Bake cake for 50 to 55 minutes, or until it is golden and a knife inserted into center comes out clean.

Pomme Cannelle

The arrival of autumn comes hand in hand with the comforting aroma of cinnamon in my kitchen. Handfuls of freshly-picked apples are constantly baking in some form in my oven. My apples have taken many forms this season: apple pies, apple crisps, apple sauce, failed-apple-crumble-turned-discovery-of-gigantic-apple-cookie, and, my absolute favorite, apple cake. Other than it’s perfectly balanced taste, something else makes this cake my favorite: it’s simple. Now, I’m not a shortcut kind of girl. You’ll never see me with a cake (or heaven forbid muffin) mix in hand. Not that I’m a food snob, I just truly enjoy the satisfaction of making something entirely from scratch. That being said, I do enjoy a recipe that allows me to whip up something fabulous in a snap, then leaves me with very little to clean afterward. The toughest job here? Peeling the apples. Plus, I usually coax someone else into doing that part anyhow.

Two-Bowl Apple Cake
adapted from Second Helpings, Please! By Norene Gilletz.

what you’ll need 
• 1 1/2 cups flour
• 2 tsp baking powder
• 1 cup white sugar
• 2 eggs
• 1/2 cup vegetable oil (I used canola)
• 5 apples, peeled, cored, thinly sliced
• a few tbsp cinnamon
• 1/4 cup brown sugar
• dash lemon juice
• dash vanilla

how to do it (long version with all the details)
First, peel your apples. Slice them thinly, so that you have half-moon shapes. Now, halve your half-moons. See the photo above for what your apples should look like. Don’t worry about making them perfect, you won’t see them once they’re in the cake! Coat them immediately with lemon juice (orange or apple juice works just as well, but the acidity in the lemon keeps them from browning!), brown sugar and cinnamon. I’ll leave the amount of cinnamon that you use up to you. I just throw a few dashes in, about 3 tbsp. You can put more or less, depending on your taste. Now, wet your hands. Mix it all together, turning the apples well into the sugary cinnamon mixture. Make sure they’re all coated. Sometimes, I’ll add a dash of vanilla here, or, if I’m feeling nutty, a dash of amaretto. Now, put the mixture aside. (Put the bottle of amaretto aside too.)

In another bowl, combine eggs, sugar and another dash of vanilla. Beat with a fork just until blended. Pour the oil in. (Now, this part might be tricky if you haven’t blended oil much before – using your fork, beat the oil, like you’d beat an egg, spinning around the bowl. Start from the outer edges, and work your way into the middle. Beat vigorously, as you want to make sure that the oil doesn’t separate from the rest.) Once this is all done, add your flour and baking powder. Yes, into the same bowl. Mix it all together, again, folding the flour mixture into the wet ingredients. Once it’s blended, you’ve got your batter ready. Told you it was easy.

Now, time for the apples and batter to mate and make a beautiful cake baby. Preheat your oven to 350F. Spread half of the batter into the bottom of a 9×9” cake pan. I lined mine with parchment paper, but if you don’t have any on hand, grease the pan with spray or a very light coating of oil. Spread the apples over the top of this. Now, spread the rest of the batter on top. A tip – wet your hands and spread it by hand. Wet hands won’t stick to the batter, and it should spread perfectly. Don’t worry if an apple or two are peeking out. Your baby is ready for the oven.

Bake it for 45 to 60 minutes, or until the top is golden and your entire kitchen smells like heaven.