Back in Belfast

After an uneventful flight from Boston and an exhausting day spent sorting immigration/visa stuff in Dublin - the joys of being an American, cross-border worker! - I'm back in Belfast now, immensely enjoying the terrific weather... obviously, I brought it back with me from New Hampshire! I'm also battling a tiny bit of jetlag and homesickness, alleviated in large part yesterday by this fantastic delivery sent to me by friends to welcome me back.

The unexpected arrival of this beautiful arrangement totally lifted my spirits just when I was feeling a little bit blue and missing my family and friends back home. So, too, did a little baking project I undertook this morning. Hubby's garden has produced a couple of lovely (if very odd-looking!) courgettes.

Not exactly a bumper crop, but these two courgettes immediately made me think of zucchini bread (it doesn't sound right if I call it courgette bread!) This is something we used to make when I was a kid to use up all the extra courgettes that abound in the summer months, though I can't say that I've ever seen it here in the island of Ireland. I'm not sure why, as it's absolutely delicious - a close kin to banana bread and carrot cake, with loads of variations - chocolate zucchini bread, frosted zucchini cake, zucchini and walnut bread, etc. I'm guessing the idea of vegetable cake puts a lot of people off, but really, the courgette just adds incredible moisture, not a distinct, vegetable taste!

I did a bit of googling to decide which recipe to follow but got a tad overwhelmed in my tiredness by the sheer number of options online. Ultimately, I came back to my tried and tested Bake book by Rachel Allen. I decided I'd try to make a slightly healthier version of her recipe, in homage to the bread's vegetable content, so I cut down on the sunflower oil, added some whole wheat flour, and also included a little extra moisture with a super ripe banana I happened to have on hand. I probably could've reduced the amount of sugar while I was at it, but I didn't want to change the texture of the batter too drastically. The result, I don't mind saying, was delicious!

You can just about see the little flecks of shredded courgette dotting the super moist, gently spicy cake. Seriously, though, don't be put off - you can't taste the courgette at all, just the fantastic combination of cinnamon, nutmeg, and vanilla. I also really liked the addition of the whole wheat flour, as it added a slight nutty overtone that complemented perfectly the two additions I made - a handful each of chopped walnuts and dark chocolate. Yum!!

Chocolate Chip Zucchini Bread
Adapted from Rachel Allen's Bake

200 g plain flour
200 g whole wheat flour
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1/2 tsp baking poder
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
300 g caster sugar
100 g soft brown sugar
3 eggs, beaten
100 ml sunflower oil
1 ripe banana, mashed
2 tsp vanilla extract
380 g courgettes, grated
A handful each of chopped walnuts and chocolate chips/dark chocolate chunks

Preheat the oven to 150°C. Grease and flour a bundt cake pan (or two loaf pans). Sift the plain flour, salt, bicarbonate of soda, baking powder and spices into a large bowl. Add the whole wheat flour and both sugars; stir well. Add the beaten eggs, oil, banana, vanilla extract, and grated courgette and stir well. Gently mix in the walnuts and chocolate chips and pour the batter into the prepared tin(s). 

Bake for about 1 1/4 hours or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Cool in the tin for about half and hour before gently turning the bread out onto a wire rack. Enjoy... I know I did!!

xx Tina


  1. The cake looks wonderful. Welcome home and give yourself a rest before you start sewing with all that fabric you bought!

  2. I love Zucchini bread, and you are right, courgette bread doesn't sound right. A lovely older lady who lived a few doors away from my aunt in Indiana baked it for me when I visited the US as a child. I had no idea what a zucchini was (nor a courgette) back then. I don't even think carrot cake had made it across the pond then! It's delicious and moist. I've made it a couple of times too, but I just don't think folks here get it.

    Glad you brought the weather back with you - can you make it hang around now?

  3. The only time I've eaten Zucchini bread was when Sarah made it - delicious! Glad you are home safe and sound. See you Mon. Jxo

  4. Great to meet you yesterday! Really enjoyed the chat, will have to do again!


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