Thursday, 13 January 2011

Get Well Cakes

I have 2 two types of cake making books.

The type that contain thoroughly indulgent, hugely calorific "sweat across the nose" (as Annabel would say) kind of cakes.

And the type that have cakes and bakes that nod in the direction of healthy eating (as much as cakes can, anyway).

I am writing about the latter today. Partly because I am on a healthy eating roll for January (and hopefully beyond) and partly because I am taking some to Kellie tonight who has been really ill :(

I've lost count of the number of times I've made these cakes. Jeremy at work rolls his eyes in disbelief when Priya and I compare grades, colours and types of flour, seed choices and alternative fruit combinations. I would be offended, but Jeremy will never fall into my target audience 'cake-wise'; he makes the right noises when taking and eating of my cakes, that'll do.

2 muffins coming up, that are healthy because:

They have ground almonds as the 'fat' replacement (instead of butter or oil).
They have a vegetable in them.
They have fruit in them.
They have seeds in them.
I use 50/50 of a white/wholemeal flour.

Lemon, Sunflower seed and Blueberry Muffins

You may be slightly surprised to hear that a batch of these muffins contain 250grams of raw courgette.
Don't worry though, you can't taste it one bit and they keep the cake moist (much the same as carrot does in carrot cake.)

You will need:

2 large unwaxed lemons (I often only have one, it's fine)
3 medium free-range eggs
160g caster sugar
250g of topped, tailed and finely grated courgette.
180g rice flour (I adapt this to use 90g white spelt flour, 90g wholewheat flour)
160g ground almonds
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
60g sunflower seeds
150g fresh blueberries

A 12 hole muffin tin
12 muffin cases (Dr Oetker are a good size)


1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees and line the muffin tin with paper cases.

2. Finely grate the lemon zest onto a plate

3. Beat the eggs and sugar with an electric whisk for a full 3 minutes until pale and creamy coloured.
Add the grated courgette and lemon zest and beat again. Set beaters aside. With the help of a spatula beat in the flour, ground almonds, baking powder, bicarb and salt until they are all mixed in. Work quickly. Then, continue to work quickly to fold in the sunflower seeds and blueberries.

4. Spoon the mixture into paper cases, original recipe says makes 8, it always makes 12 for me though. Bake for 35 mins (until a toothpick comes out clean or they bounce back when gently pressed).

5. Remove tin from oven and leave to cool for just a minute or two to hold heir shape. Transfer to a wire cooling rack to allow them not to sweat in the tin.

Extra things to note: Because of the high water content in these they freeze brilliantly.
They can be soggy if you store in an airtight container so I would leave to rest in open air a few hours before eating (and similarly would allow them to defrost in the open air).


These are not the best ever blueberry muffins I've made (the struessel topping ones with cinnamon are) but these aren't too far behind. I love the texture that sunflower seeds add to the muffins too.
My slightly adapted "Plum, sunflower seed and cinnamon" variation that I invented was pretty nice too...

At the back of the cookbook I am using, the nutrition information is listed for items too, therefore if you make 12 cakes they are just 170 calories each... no guilt needed there!

Peach and Poppy Seed Muffins

So, the health benefits of these muffins are similar to the others but this time they have peach, poppy seed and... sweet potato! They are perfect for breakfast with the sweet potato (and wholewheat flour) providing slow-release energy. As mentioned in the book, the peach season is short but I use nectarines (and tinned peaches if I have to). I've given these out at tennis matches instead of biscuits and after their initial fear of a "sweet potato cake" they wolfed them down.

You will need:
2 medium free-range eggs
120g caster sugar
200g peeled and finely grated sweet potato
100g white rice flour (again I went 50/50 wholewheat)
100g ground almonds
1 tbsp poppy seeds
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1/4 tsp salt
3 small peaches cut into 1/2 cm cubes

A 12 hole muffin tin
12 muffin cases


1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees and line the muffin tin with paper cases.

2. Whisk the eggs and sugar for 3 minutes until fluffy. With the help of a wooden spoon, beat in the grated sweet potato, flour, ground almonds, poppy seeds, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and salt until well incorporated.

3. Fold in the cubes of peach, then fill the cases right up to the top.

4. Bake in the oven for 30 minutes until risen and golden.

5. Remove from the oven and cool on a wire rack.

Extra things to note: I always sift flour into baking recipes, even if the box says "no need to sieve" to put as much air in as possible, why take the chance? The wholewheat grains don't do through my sieve so I have to throw those in afterwards. Book says 176 calories in a batch of 9 muffins, therefore if you make 12 like I would... 132 calories per muffin (nothing!) :)

And now to stack them up...

...and bag them up!

A cake box seemed a bit try-hard for these modest muffins.
Me? try-hard? Don't know what you mean...!

Muffin recipes are adapted from:

"Red velvet Chocolate Heartache" by Harry Eastwood.

Harry Eastwood was one of the blond ones from Channel 4's "Cook yourself thin" if you ever saw it.

Her recipes are amazing, the food photography is some of the cutest you'll ever see and the recipes are also good for specific dietary requirements. If you can get past the fact that she gives each cake a bit of a cringing "personality" you'll be glad.

Book (hardback) looks like this:

I bought Pin-head a copy for her belated birthday present from Amazon...

Don't click on it if you're reading Pin-head, or you'll see how much I paid.

And an example of that cute photography I was on about:-

Strawberry and cream cupcake (also courgette based) on some doll's house furniture, adorable!

So, I'm off to deliver my cakes to the patient, in fact I used the ice-cream scoop she bought me for Xmas to portion out the mixture into cases. A release mechanism ice-cream scoop is perfect for this.

Get well soon Kel; enjoy the cakes!

J :)

1 comment:

  1. Awww Jo, only just read your blog. Im still getting over the cakes that made me worse ;))) Only joking, I couldnt eat them as I was on a chicken soup only diet for the next week. Mark tasted all but was unsure.
    Now Im back to full health Ill have to try them. Give me a shout when the next batch comes in.

    Happy baking, see you Thurs KX