Courgette, Lime, & Coconut Cake

The courgette cake hasn’t yet taken off quite like the carrot cake. I’m not sure why. I think it’s a shame, really, because a good courgette cake is just as simple and delicious as a carrot cake. While the natural sweetness of carrots works wonderfully in desserts for obvious reasons, a courgette is a more neutral vegetable. The advantage of that is that it’s a great vehicle for all sorts of exciting flavours. Here, I’ve added lime and coconut to go for a kind of tropical vibe. Even though courgettes are possibly the least tropical vegetable ever.

I am good at looking after children and animals but, for some reason, totally useless at keeping plants alive. We don’t have a garden so I don’t have anywhere to practice. But really, that’s just an excuse: I’ve never been able to grow things anyway. I always get confused (too much water? not enough water? who knows?) and then forget about whatever plant I’m supposed to be tending to.


Luckily, we have plenty of lovely neighbours who are digging their way to victory, and occasionally we will receive donations of tasty home-grown vegetables. I say donations, but the neighbours from whom we got the magnificent courgettes that went into this cake were practically begging us to take them off their hands. They seemed slightly panicked about the sheet volume of courgette they had managed to produce. One of them was the size of my arm.

So anyway, obviously if you have an abundance of courgettes you could put them in a stir-fry, or on a savoury tart, or make courgette fritters. Or, you could add a load of sugar and make a courgette cake. I bet you can guess which direction I went in.



Adapted from this recipe.


I think this recipe would also work brilliantly well with lemon or orange, if you have them lying around. Or if you don’t like lime, I guess? I don’t think I have ever met anyone who doesn’t like lime though.

If you want a quicker or more simple courgette cake, you can leave all the stuff at the end and have it unadorned. It’s really easy though, and I promise it only takes five minutes.


for the cake

350g courgettes, unpeeled
150g soft brown sugar (or any brown sugar, or coconut sugar if you have it)
50g desiccated coconut
125ml sunflower oil, or other neutral oil such as vegetable or corn
3 large eggs
zest of 2 limes
100g sultanas, or raisins if you prefer
300g self raising flour
1 tsp baking powder

for icing and finishing

100g icing sugar
juice  and zest of 1 lime
handful of desiccated coconut


  1. Preheat your oven 180C/160C fan/gas 4, and lightly grease a large non-stick loaf tin. Grate your courgette, then pop it in a sieve and try to push and squeeze as much liquid as possible out of it, to stop your cake going soggy.
  2. Pop your courgette in a large bowl, then add your sugar, coconut, oil, eggs, lime zest, and sultanas, then give it all a good mix. Add your flour and baking powder, then quickly stir until just combined. Pour your mixture into your loaf tin, then bake for around 40-50 minutes, or until the cake is firm and well risen, and passes the skewer test.
  3. Mix your icing sugar with enough lime juice to make a thick icing. Let your cake cool, then zigzag it with your lime icing, and finish with a sprinkling of the lime zest and a bit more desiccated coconut.

Savse Smoothies: Super Orange Prawn and Quinoa Salad with Mango Salsa

Autumn seems to have come suddenly this year. Our lovely, unexpected Indian summer has made the sudden shortening of the days rather startling, and I was dismayed to wake up at my standard 6.30am last week to see darkness outside instead of the bright dawns to which I have become accustomed. I don’t know why, but this surprises me every year, and I can’t quite remember how I got through the darker days last time around. Although I’m generally cheered by the inevitable slide into autumnal crumbles and stews, I felt like having one last go at a bright and sunshiney recipe before succumbing. And here it is.


In case you missed my last blog post, I’ll explain that I am collaborating with Savse, who make delicious smoothies packed full of healthy treats. I’ve tried lots of their range over the past couple of weeks, and this Super Orange smoothie is one of my favourites. It’s got a great balance of sweetness from mango and sharpness from citrus, undercut by the earthiness of carrots. I thought this sunshine drink would be great in a loosely Mexican-inspired dish, with fresh fish, creamy avocados, bright limes, punchy red chillies, and plenty of coriander.


The sweetness of the smoothie is a great partner to the spicy chilli in this dish, and it’s wonderful with the flavours of coriander and lime. I keep glancing out of the window as I write this, and although the temperature has started to drop, everything’s still wildly green and the sky is bright and clear. This is the perfect light meal for these last days of sunshine, or a great healthy pick-me-up for when it gets grey.


Notes: You can use whatever grains you like here – I used a mixture of brown rice and quinoa because it was what I had on hand, but either of those alone would do, as would something like freekeh.

The quantities here feed two people, but the dish can easily be scaled up for a crowd and served as a sharing platter.


150g quinoa (or whatever grain you like)
1 ripe avocado

for the prawns

1/2 250ml bottle Savse Super Orange
1 clove garlic, crushed
180g raw prawns

for the mango salsa

1 small mango
1 small red chilli, de-seeded
1/2 bunch coriander, finely chopped
juice 1/2 lime
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper

for the dressing

1/2 250ml bottle Savse Super Orange
1 clove crushed garlic
1/2 bunch coriander, finely chopped
juice 1/2 lime
1 tbsp white wine vinegar
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper



  1. At least an hour before you want to eat, prep your prawns by removing their shells and digestive tracts, then put them in a bowl with your smoothie and garlic. Mix, cover, and refrigerate.
  2. When you’re ready to start preparing the rest of the dish, put your quinoa on to cook according to pack instructions – it should take around 20 minutes. While that’s cooking, heat a griddle pan with a glug of oil until it’s just smoking. Halve, peel, and de-stone your avocado, season, and then grill for about 1 minute per side, or until you have char-marks. Remove from pan, slice, and set aside.
  3. To make your salsa, peel and dice your mango, de-seed and dice your chilli, chop your coriander (chop the whole bunch because you need the rest for the dressing), juice your lime, and mix all these things together with the oil. Season to taste.
  4. To make your dressing, simply combine all your ingredients. I find the easiest way to do this is to put them all in a tupperware container or jar with a lid and shake. Taste and season. Drain your quinoa well, then mix in the dressing.
  5. To cook your prawns, remove from the marinade and season. Wipe out and reheat your grill pan with some new oil. When it’s just smoking, grill your prawns until gently charred on the outside and warm, pink, and opaque all the way through. Serve your quinoa topped with the avocado, mango salsa, and prawns.

Almond Citrus Drizzle Cake

A couple of months ago, Felicity Cloake reminded me of the existence of the humble choc ice, the prize and delight of children at my primary school: I daresay that these days they have been replaced by something actually resembling a legitimate foodstuff, but when I was eight that slightly soggy cardboard box of reassuringly rectangular ice cream bars covered in something roughly approximating chocolate was pretty much the best thing going.

My favourite (read: only significant) choc ice memory is of the day at primary school when I fell in the playground and sprained my wrist. For some reason there were no ice packs available – perhaps they had been dispatched to other clumsy children – and so the school receptionist sent me back to my classroom with two choc ices secured around my injured wrist with rubberbands.

Of course, like any reasonable child, I promptly ate them.


It was around this age that I started baking. I began with the basics, as I guess most kids do: my family’s chocolate fudge cake; cookies; and the much-loved standby that is lemon drizzle cake. I don’t quite know what it is about the humble lemon drizzle, but it seems to have almost magical properties. When I am going to visit someone and I ask what cake they would like me to bring, lemon drizzle is the most common answer. People request it even more than they request chocolate cake (which would be my choice, every time, if someone offered to bring me a cake. Just, you know, FYI).

So I’ve made many lemon drizzle cakes over the years, and for a while I stuck to a very standard loaf cake. Which was great, but not particularly special. Then I stumbled across a recipe from the wonderful Jane Hornby – my idol, the person I want to be when I grow up – and saw the potential for something much more exciting. I had a play around with it and this is the result. Now, if anyone asks me for a lemon drizzle cake, they are getting this.

Apologies for the awful photos. I had a five minute window in a morning of baking an excessive amount of cake for a tea party and had to abandon any aesthetic principles I may sometimes pretend to have.


Source: Adapted from this absolutely and completely excellent book: What to Bake & How to Bake It, by the wonderful Jane Hornby.

Notes: I have kept the base of the cake much the same, substituting ground almonds for polenta and specifying full fat Greek yoghurt, which I use all the time in baking and generally in life because it’s glorious. It’s the finishing that I’ve messed with here, adding the step of a soaking syrup to veer us into the traditional lemon drizzle territory and finishing with the much-beloved glaze.

I like to do this with a mixture of citrus fruits, partly to add interest and vary flavour but mostly, I must admit, because I think the sprinkling of orange, yellow, and green zest looks pretty. However, if you have a particular preference or are limited by what’s knocking about in the fridge, do feel free to go for all lemon or all lime.


2 lemons
2 limes
1 orange
225g butter
200g caster sugar
4 eggs
125g plain flour
125g ground almonds
pinch of salt
2 tsp baking powder
125g full fat Greek yoghurt

for the syrup

50g caster sugar
juice of 1 lemon, 1 lime, and 1 orange

for the drizzle

100g icing sugar
juice of 1 lemon


  1. Heat your oven to 180C/160C fan/gas 4, and grease and line a 22cm square tin. Zest the lemons, limes, and orange, then juice them. It’s fine to mix all the zests together, but keep the juices separate. Beat the butter and sugar with 2 teaspoons of the mixed zest, reserving the rest. Beat the eggs in a small bowl, then gradually add them to the butter and sugar, beating all the while.
  2. Mix the flour, ground almonds, salt, and baking powder together, then sift half of it over the butter, sugar, and egg mixture and fold it all together, tossing in any ground almonds left in the sieve. Fold in the yoghurt, then sift and fold in the remaining flour mixture. Scrape batter into tin, level surface, then bake for 20 minutes, or until golden and risen. Turn the oven down to 160C/140C fan/gas 3 and bake for 15 minutes more.
  3. While the cake is baking, make the syrup. Mix the citrus juice (feel free to adjust to take) and the sugar in a pan, then heat gently for a couple of minutes until the sugar has dissolved. When the cake comes out of the oven, leave it in the tin and poke around 20 holes in it with a skewer, then pour over the syrup and let it sink in.
  4. Leave the cake to cool completely. Make the drizzle by sifting the icing sugar into a bowl and gradually, a teaspoon at a time, whisking in the lemon juice. You want a thick icing that holds its shape, and it’s very easy to add too much liquid, so go slowly. When the cake is cool, chuck the drizzle on in an artistic manner and then sprinkle over your leftover zest.