August really is the month of garden glut. Currently, my three raised beds are producing a variety of veggies and I have been scrambling to either use them fresh or get them preserved for the winter months (see last week’s recipe for pickled beetroot).
This week, we have been all about the courgette. When I returned to the farm after spending the month of July in Canada, my garden was not only full of weeds – it was also full of courgette!
The thing about courgette is, if you keep it on the vine for too long it becomes a marrow. Now there’s nothing wrong with that – I love marrow – but it is a different type of beast and requires different cooking techniques.
I peel my marrows, as the skin can sometimes be tough. I also treat them more like a summer squash or pumpkin – I scrape out the seeds.
Younger, smaller courgettes have tender skin and the seeds haven’t really developed yet, which means you can use the whole thing.
I slice them thinly on a mandolin to make delicious marinated salads or add them to some pizza (courgette and St Tola goat cheese is a match made in heaven).
Sometimes, though, I like to bake with courgette. I’m not sure if these loaf cakes are traditional in Ireland, but back home in Canada, we eat it thickly sliced and smeared with soft, salted butter.
It’s a great loaf to have with a hot cup of tea. Alternately, courgette loaf can be made into muffins.
It freezes really well and can keep frozen for up to two months. I generally make two smaller loaves or a batch of muffins and freeze half.
If you’re thinking 'ew… courgette in a cake?!', I would humbly ask if you enjoy carrot cake. If you do, then you will probably love this courgette loaf just as much.
225g light brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla
175g melted butter
325g plain flour
½ tsp nutmeg
1 tsp cinnamon
¾ tsp baking soda
½ tsp baking powder
400g (one medium-sized) courgette, grated
150g chopped pecans (optional)
1-2 tbsp sugar, for sprinkling
1 Grate the courgette and let it sit in a bowl (keep all the juices that come with it) until you’re ready to use. Take one large loaf tin or two smaller ones and spray with baking spray before lining with parchment. Set aside.
2 Preheat the oven to 180°C.
3 In a large bowl, add the melted butter and brown sugar. Using a hand mixer or stand mixer (with the paddle attachment), cream the butter and sugar together. Add the eggs and vanilla. Beat until light, fluffy and increased slightly in volume; around five minutes.
4 Add the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, nutmeg and cinnamon. Mix the dry ingredients into the wet until just combined; do not over-mix.
5 Add the courgette and pecans to the batter and, using a spatula, gently fold them in until evenly combined.
6 Spoon the batter into the prepared tins; smooth the top slightly. Sprinkle the sugar over the top and bake in the preheated oven for roughly 25 to 30 minutes for muffins, 45 to 50 minutes for a regular-sized loaf and 60 to 65 minutes for an extra-large loaf - or until a skewer inserted into the centre of the loaf comes out clean.
7 Cool in the tin for 15 minutes, then carefully remove the loaf from the tin and cool completely on a wire rack. Eat right away or store in an airtight container for up to five days. Alternately, freeze for up to two months.