As this was the final cake to be made with my lovely vegetables from Riverford, I was glad to have the opportunity to take a couple of slices to Lynn and Steve, the couple who run the Cornwall Home Delivery franchise, so they could see what I’d been doing with their produce.
I was a little nervous, as when I was making this it seemed impossible that I would end up with anything even half resembling a cake .
It may well be the strangest recipe I’ve ever tried – when I was at the point of having a mixing bowl filled with what was essentially sweet green water, that apparently was going to become a beautiful sponge cake, it was quite hard to keep the faith, but by some sort of magical baking chemistry it actually worked!
The sponge was a little different in texture to a regular sponge, slightly more chewy, but definitely edible and for my first vegan sponge I was very happy. The icing was a revelation – swapping butter for avocado creates an incredibly rich, fudgy, almost saucy chocolate icing that I’m sure is healthy enough to just eat by the spoonful…
Lynn and Steve seemed to like the cake, and I definitely think we should strike some sort of deal where they give me vegetables and I return with cake – that’s a fair swap I think?!
Lynn very kindly agreed to a short Q&A so I could find out more about the home delivery service, and her own experiences of baking with vegetables. This is how it went…
Q. So, you’re from Nottingham originally – what made you decide to up sticks to Cornwall? (Other than it being the best county in the UK of course…)
A. We moved here to take on the business, but we did already have a love for Cornwall as we both used to holiday here every year.
Q. How did you first discover Riverford, were you a customer before you took on the business?
A. Yes, we were Riverford customers for about 8 years and we were really interested in their business, so it was a natural choice to choose Riverford when we were thinking of running our own business.
Q. Have you ever had veg boxes from any other companies, and if you have how do you think Riverford compares?
A. We tried a few other box schemes local to where we used to live, but found that the breadth of choice of produce was extremely limited and the quality just wasn’t as good.
Q. And how does the home delivery service in Cornwall differ to a regular order from Riverford?
A. We’re extremely lucky, as we’re be based so close to our head office and main growing farm in Devon so have access to all of the produce from there, but we are also able to supply both veg and meat directly from Cornish farmers, so our customers are getting more very local produce.
Q. Ok, let’s talk veg – what’s in season right now, what should people expect to see in their boxes in July?
A. Over the next couple of months we’ve got strawberries, kohl rabi, Cornish new potatoes, UK salads, and homegrown herbs – lots to look forward to!
Q. And have you done any baking with vegetables, or do you tend to stick savoury dishes?
A. I use beetroot for beetroot brownies, the Riverford recipe is my favourite (and I’ve tried a few, including Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall and BBC Good Food), I’ve also made lots of different carrot cakes, and chocolate courgette cake in the past. That’s probably as far as my baking skills go, but it does surprise me how many sweet recipes there are using veg. It can make something a little bit naughty into something a little more healthy – great for kids.
So thanks once again to Lynn and Steve for my lovely box of veg, and I hope you enjoyed the cake!
- 90g avocado (approximately 1 medium)
- 300g caster sugar
- 20ml white vinegar
- 30ml vegetable oil
- 375ml water
- 35g natural yoghurt (edit: soy yoghurt if you need it to be vegan!)
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 270g plain flour
- 35g cocoa powder
- 1.5 tsp baking powder
- 1.5 tsp bicarbonate of soda
For the icing:
- 90g avocado (approximately 1 medium)
- 225g icing sugar
- 50g cocoa powder
- 1 tbsp brandy (optional)
- pinch sea salt
Start by mashing the avocado into a smooth puree – I found a stick blender was the best for this. Whisk the sugar, white vinegar, vegetable oil, water, yoghurt and vanilla extract into the avocado, until it’s well mixed and looks like slightly scary swamp water. Sift together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and bicarb and fold whisk this into the wet mixture, stopping when no lumps remain. Pour into two 7″ greased and lined cake tins and bake at 180 degrees for 30-40 minutes, or until risen and a skewer comes out clean.
To make the icing, puree the avocado as with the cake, then gradually sift in the icing sugar and cocoa powder, beating until smooth. Add the brandy when the mixture starts to get too thick to beat, then continue adding the sugar and cocoa powder – you should end up with a thick, fudgy frosting. Add salt to taste, then spread a thick layer of icing onto the top of one of the cakes, then sandwich with the other. Finish with a dusting of cocoa, then slice and serve.