I love cake. I love baking it, eating it, sharing it with friends and loved-ones, trying to be better at making it, and trying to making people smile with it.
But, like a tumultuous literary love story, my affair with cake is dangerous. I pore, obsessively, over cookbooks, agonising at what to bake – which springy sponge will bring me closer to baking perfection. Essentially, I try to find the Platonic form of the cupcake. I bake. And then – inevitably – I eat.
I joined Weight Watchers 8 weeks ago, and – for obvious reasons – was forced to put my affair on hold. That is, until this week.
I recently nominated Bristol-based One25 – a wonderful organisation which helps women trapped in street sex work to build new lives – as our office’s Dress-Down Friday charity for the next few months. Last Friday, we started our office fundraising. Clearly, this was the perfect occasion for cake; cake for a great cause; awareness-raising cake; cake to celebrate transforming the lives of women. But….Weight Watchers?
At this point, some of you might say ‘but you don’t have to eat any of the cakes?’. To you, I say, ‘get a grip, you utter buffoon. Of COURSE I’m going to eat the cakes. Not all of them, but at least two, JEEZ!’
But have no fear – waistlines and worries were saved thanks to cakes made with…vegetables?!?
Yep, you heard me right, vegetables. In this instance, courgettes. A little while ago, while perusing cake books on Amazon, I stumbled accross a book with endless (110 to be precise) 5-star reviews. Finger poised to order, I spotted a mention of grating butternut squash and scattering ground almonds which stopped me in my tracks.
This was Harry Eastwood’s first book, packed to the rafters with gluten-free, guilt-free, bakes, written with love and made by lovingly grating many, many vegetables.
Most of the recipes use no butter, making them deliciously low in fat, and the calorie and fat content for each is listed in the back. Perfect for the intrepid cake-explorer who wants to avoid developing their own ‘cake shelf’, these bakes have been some of the best ones I’ve made, and although it may seem utterly bonkers, I thoroughly recommend it.
This week, I went for American Vanilla Cupcakes, so-called because of their supreme, L.A-esque, lightness and low saturated fat content – only 1 gram per cake!
These cupcakes are really some of the lightest, fluffiest, and most delicious I’ve ever eaten. The grated courgettes puff them up like little white clouds, and the absence of butter makes them seem vaguely saintly.
Harry recommends that these are topped with her ‘snow meringue icing’ – a tooth-achingly sweet, marshmallowy frosting, which looks simply beautiful.
But, despite its wonderful texture, I found it a little too sickly for my taste. This time, I went with a basic buttercream.
Sadly, at the time of making said buttercream, I had enjoyed several large glasses of wine, and it all went a bit Pete Tong.
Too emotionally exhausted (read pissed) from the late-night frosting debacle, the cakes were iced at 7.30am, bleary-eyed and mildly hungover. The end result, as you’ll see, was far from professsional, but the cakes
were enjoyed with ‘ooh’s and ‘aaaah’s and cries of ‘courgette?! Really?!’ by colleagues.
Having totted up their Weight Watchers points like a massive saddo (7, if you’re interested), I gleefully enjoyed one (and a half) guilt-free.
Lessons learned: always, always have your butter at room temperature when making frosting, and never, ever, try to make frosting after a bottle of red wine.