Who else has a ‘picky eater’ child? It’s been a constant battle for us for years with Miss ‘almost to be 9’ generally avoiding any ‘real’ food and having a definite liking for pies, nuggets and chips. Some years ago I invested in the ‘Deceptively Delicious’ and ‘Sneaky Chef’ books in order to incorporate the good stuff in a Ninja Stealth way. It wasn’t long though before I realised that it was a lot of effort for possibly no results. Sure, if I was a SAHM with a good stash of mash in the freezer and was able to sneak them in without Missy popping into the kitchen at the imperative time to say “What’s that?” as the mystery green, red or orange puree made it into dinner I probably would have been far more successful. Ultimately too, the kid needs to learn that eating vegetables is just something you need to do. She wasn’t looking like she was one meal away from the hospital, so we soldiered on with the evening meals of meat and 3 veg there blatantly sitting on the plate.
Having said that, there definitely is value in adding some veg to your baked goodies. First and foremost, it justifies what is otherwise an indulgence and turns it into a ‘healthy’ option “It DOES contain veges” 🙂 . Adding veges has other benefits too though including adding some great colour, texture and richness of flavour. I’m sure for most bakers out there, if you’re going to the trouble of making something ‘home-baked’, finding a few extra minutes to prep some veg to grate or cook and puree isn’t too much of a problem. Needless to say, when this month’s ‘Daring Baker’ challenge came up as ‘Hidden Veggies’ I was excited at some free reign of cake baking …as long as it contained a bit of veg.
Scrolling Pinterest I came across a picture of an Easter theme ‘Carrot Patch Cake’. Keen to add a bit of fun to the project I thought I’d give my own version a whirl. 2 criteria – some sort of ‘orange coloured’ and some sort of ‘brown coloured’ cake. I figured vanilla was probably a good start perhaps with some carrot added and possibly one of the most common ‘hidden veggie’ cakes – chocolate! Of course at this time of the term time is precious, so perhaps my brilliant idea wasn’t so great, but I went ahead anyway.
My first cake was a Simple Vanilla Cake comprising of:
1 ½ cups Self-Raising flour
½ cup Plain Flour
1 cup Caster Sugar
150g softened butter
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 Tablespoons carrot puree
Orange food colour
The recipe was an all-in-one mix-it-up method, poured into a greased and lined bar tin. Baked at 150°C for approximately 1 hour.
My second cake was a Beetroot Chocolate Cake Comprising of:
480g Self-Raising flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
240g caster sugar
180g dark chocolate, melted
180g melted butter
240g grated raw beetroot
Again a simple recipe of combing the dry ingredients before adding the wet ingredients then mixing well.
Of course, the ‘carrot’ cake needed to be cooked first and allowed to cool slightly before cutting a carrot-shaped wedge from it. This method has a lot of ‘wastage’ though in this house scraps of cake never go astray. The original uses a different method cutting shapes from a shallow tray.
When you have your wedge, it gets placed in the tin before filling with the chocolate mix, then baked for 50-60 minutes at 180°C.
Finishing the cake is easy with a simple chocolate ganache and chocolate cookie crumbs. If making carrot leaves from icing is a bit beyond you (or like me you just don’t have the time) simple leaf lollies or green fruit straps will do the job. It helped that this cake resembled dirt and the garden …a more ‘rustic’ finish didn’t really matter.
So what lay beneath? ‘Hidden Veggies’ of course!!!!