Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Daring Bakers: Hidden Veggies in Sweet Bakes

Ruth from Makey-Cakey was our March 2013 Daring Bakers' challenge host. She encouraged us all to get experimental in the kitchen and sneak some hidden veggies into our baking, with surprising and delicious results. I loved the idea of sneaking veggies into dessert - I especially like the reveal: you know, when you actually tell someone that the brownie they are savouring has actually more brinjal in it than chocolate or that the cheesecake they had two slices of has tofu (god forbid!) in it and not Mascarpone cheese. 

Yes, you guessed it. I'm a prankster. I'm one of those people who look forward to April Fool's day every year. I used to play a prank on my poor, dear mother every year. Now that she's not around any more, it is my doomed-to-be-long suffering husband has to bear my (often not well-thought out) pranks.

This month's challenge was the perfect pre-cursor to April Fool's Day (which is in five days! Can't wait!).

Ruth gave us several recipes to try out and they all looked extremely interesting but I had one recipe that I had thought up a while ago and was dying to try. I wanted to use spinach in a sweet cake. I've made a savoury spinach cheesecake before but never a sweet dessert cake. 

I must admit, the idea of spinach in a dessert cake was a little off-putting.I love spinach and I eat a helluva lot of it: but it's always seasoned with salt and pepper and never sugar. I was a little apprehensive and was prepared to think of creative ways of disposing the cake if it tasted ghastly (by creative I meant feeding it to Mojo, my dachshund who would gobble up anything!).

As it turned out, the spinach cake (an adaptation from the Turkish Ispanakli kek) turned out delicious. It tastes better once it has been chilled. The spinach is not discernible at all (unless you fail to puree the leaves properly and leave the evidence in the cake!) and most of the folks I offered the cake assumed the green colour was green tea/macha, pistachios or pandan leaves. I frosted the cake with some light cream cheese frosting which went really well with the cake.

I only revealed what the main ingredient of the cake was well after they'd had a couple of bites and expressed appreciation for the flavour and texture (for it is a very soft, moist cake) of the cake. The look on their faces though as they were eating a spinach cake was. quite frankly, priceless.

Would they eat it again? Most said yes. Some urged me to delude them into believing it was pistachio or green tea the next time for though they loved the flavour, they needed time to get comfortable with the idea of a spinach cake.

It was a fun challenge overall and I am amazed at the creative efforts of my fellow Daring Bakers: Chickpea White Chocolate Brownies? Edamame Whoopie Pies? Kidney Bean Chocolate Cakes? Whoa. Looks like I'll have a lot of ammunition come April Fools Day!

Spinach Cake With Cream Cheese Frosting

1 cup pureed spinach (leaves only: should get this from 300g spinach or so)
3 eggs
2 tbsp lime juice
225g sugar (+ 1/4 cup more if you prefer a your cakes sweet)
250g all purpose flour
3 tsp baking powder
pinch of salt
3/4 cup canola/vegetable oil

Preheat the oven to 180C.

Whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt.

Beat the eggs and sugar until pale and smooth. Add oil, lemon juice and pureed spinach and mix until everything is well incorporated.

Fold in the flour.

Pour the batter into a greased 8-inch baking pan and bake for 30-35 mins or until a tester comes out clean.

Cool cake completely before frosting (which is optional. You can get the recipe for the frosting here).

Once frosted, chill cake for at least a couple of hours before devouring. Tastes best chilled!


  1. What an amazing colour! I just need to come up with a good cover story before I try feeding something that green to my kids *heehee* They still don't know about the veggies hidden in the treats I made - figured it was safer that way. ;)

  2. The colour is so amazing, I can't stop looking at that slice

  3. What a great colour! So green, that it doesn't look "healthy" any more. I love it!

  4. What a fantastic colour - so vibrant and zingy! I know what you mean about the reveal - I had so much fun telling my colleagues that the lemon polenta cake they had just demolished had half a swede 'hidden' in it! Thanks so much for taking part this month

  5. What a beautiful cake! I love the idea of using spinach in the cake, and it gave it such a fantastic color!

  6. I love the color of the cake, and would try it even knowing there is spinach in it! ;)

  7. I made a spinach cake, too! Told my kids it was a leprechaun cake for St. Patrick's Day :) Yours looks beautiful and I bet it was great with the cream cheese frosting.


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