When summer yields a bumper crop of vegetables, what are you going to make after you exhaust the tomato sauce and zucchini casserole recipes? (And how are you going to get the kids to eat it?) At this point in the summer, we usually say ‘Let them eat cake’ – as in vegetable cake. Of course you have to be OK with the extra sugar, but once you get past that, it’s a good way to use up your summer vegetable surplus and get the kids to eat it too.
Mention a cake made from vegetables and most people will think first of carrot cake, but what about the other vegetables that are growing in your garden? We started thinking beyond carrots earlier this week when we had a bumper crop of eggplant. We love the purple color of this eggplant cake from Examiner.com – it almost reminds us of a red velvet cake. It’s made with whole-wheat pastry flour, nuts, honey, and cinnamon. And the eggplant is grated – similar to carrots in carrot cake – and folded into the batter.
Also this week we saw this chocolate corn cake with the intriguing name of “Corny Corny Lena” from Napa Farmhouse 1885. The recipe calls for fresh corn that is liquefied in a food processor, so it really is a dessert cake as opposed to a cornbread or corn muffin. Author Diane Padoven writes, “When you puree fresh corn, it becomes this milky, frothy liquid that adds a moistness and a lightness that is hard to describe. I have never had anyone correctly guess the “secret” ingredient…but everyone that has ever tasted it, loves it.”
We can’t wait to try this heirloom tomato bundt cake with brown butter icing from La Cucina Laurenti. (Technically the tomato is a fruit, but let’s go with the general theme of putting an ingredient in the cake that you wouldn’t otherwise expect.) We love heirloom tomatoes so much it’s hard to imagine having any ‘left over’ that would force us to need to make this cake, but maybe we could be convinced to buy a few extra at the farmers’ market next time.
Last but not least, let’s not forget about the lowly beet. Its beautiful dark red hue adds deep color to any dish; why not a cake? This Purple Velvet Torte from Elana’s Pantry is a gluten-free chocolate cake made healthier and richer with 2 1/2 cups of grated beets. Should we tell the kids what’s really in it? Maybe not until after they’ve had their first piece.
Updated, Thursday 8/12: The Jolly Tomato’s mom is dismayed that we failed to include her zucchini chocolate cake on the list. How embarrassing. This is a cake that we loved when we were young and we now enjoy serving to our own kids. It’s moist and tasty – but be forewarned: You can see little shreds of green in it if you look hard enough. You can peel the zucchini if you think your picky eaters won’t touch it otherwise, but we think it adds a little more flavor (and character) if you keep the peel on. The original recipe was clipped from some unknown magazine at least 30 years ago and has been modified many times, but if anyone knows the original source let us know so we can give proper credit. And as always, thanks to Jolly Tomato dad for the photo. It was a true family effort.
Fun Food Saturday: Because food should be fun.