Green Tomato CakePosted: September 1, 2012
How was your summer? Did you have fun or did you blink and miss it?
Had a great break in France – SEE my brocante treasures….GASP at my bargain, 8-euro vintage linen bedsheets! – </gloats>
But now I’m back with a vengeance with an absolute corker of a recipe, just right if your home-grown tomatoes are remaining stubbornly green.
Yes! Green Tomato Cake! Hey…where you going?….come baaaack! Did I scare you with the recipe? Fear not – trust me. *breaks into Ka’s song from the Jungle Book whilst doing the googley-eye thing* Trusssssssst in meeeeeeee………….jussssssssssssst in meeeeeee……
You trusted me with Russian Honey Cake and you remember how great THAT was. To be honest, I’m not sure whether Russian Honey Cake could beat this one in a fair fight – it’s seriously that good. I mean – this cake (technically) has FRUIT in it!
Last year I dragged this recipe out of my War and Peace sized BOOK of recipe clippings after Lorraine Stanton over at Vowley Farm got in touch, with a request for something to use up a glut of green tomatoes with something other than chutney. Along with a few other recipes (GT ketchup, GT mincemeat – both yum, by the way) I sent it off, with the caveat that (at the time) I hadn’t actually tried it myself, but would love to know how it worked out.
Suffice to say, based on Lorraine’s feedback I was hotfoot down to the farm shop for some green tomatoes! As per usual, I was unable to restrain myself from tweaking the recipe here and there, and kept sending MrB into work with the various versions in order to gather feedback from his colleagues. Long story short, by the time I was happy with the recipe, one of my husband’s colleagues actually ordered a Green Tomato Cake for his birthday! Huzzah! Alas, in the process, I had used up all but one tiny 300g bag of my green tomatoes – The Precious! – which has consequently been jealously hoarded in the freezer all winter.
And that put me in a dilemma – I really wanted to share this fab recipe, but it would have been too mean to do so when green tomatoes weren’t available. But now they’re here! Even if you don’t grow your own, you can ask around friends and neighbours or, like me, ask for them at a local farm shop – always ask, they might have a ton in the storeroom they think they can’t sell.
So – what’s it like? Well, if you’re a fan of carrot cake, but find that it can be a bit overly-sweet/heavy at times, then this is the recipe for you! Spicy, crunchy with walnuts, and sweet from the sultanas, the chopped green tomatoes keep it light and fresh-tasting. They don’t dissolve into a mush on cooking, but hold their shape and sharpness, whilst taking on the sweetness and aromas of the other ingredients. If you don’t tell people what’s in it, the look on their faces when they try some is priceless (in a good way!). They know that there is an awesome taste party going on in their mouths but they can’t quite put their finger on what it is.
I prefer to bake it as a tray-bake and slather on some lemony cream cheese icing – but again, this can all too easily slip into overly sweet, so in pondering the problem, I had a bit of a light-bulb moment and decided to try and combine the methodology for the light and silky-smooth Depression Era Buttercream to cream cheese icing. It took a few tries, but, to cut a long story short, it worked and its fab! Recipe below!
Convinced you yet? I hope so!
Green Tomato Cake
112g butter, softened
125g caster sugar
2 large eggs
190g plain flour
2 rounded tsp baking powder
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 nutmeg – grated
300g green tomatoes, chopped (not pureed) in a food processor
70g walnuts, roughly chopped
- Preheat the oven to 180°C, 160°C Fan.
- Line a baking tin with parchment. My favourite size is 25cm x 20cm, but any tin will do as long as the batter doesn’t end up being spread too thinly – no less than 4cm.
- Beat the butter and sugar with electric mixer until light and creamy (10 mins or so).
- Add eggs one at a time, mixing well after each one.
- Sift the flour, cinnamon, baking powder, salt and nutmeg into a bowl.
- Gradually add the flour mixture to the eggs/butter until well combined.
- Stir in the chopped tomatoes, sultanas and nuts.
- If the mixture is a bit firm, loosen it to ‘dropping consistency’ (i.e. a spoonful drops softly back into the bowl and doesn’t stick claggily to the spoon itself) with a little milk. It’ll make the difference between a moist cake and a dry/stodgy one.
- Spoon the mixture into the prepared tin.
- Bake for 25-30 minutes until firm-but-still-springy to the touch, a toothpick comes out clean of cake batter and the cake has slightly shrunken away from the sides of the tin.
- Let the cake stand in its tin for 10 minutes then remove and cool on a wire rack
Recession Cream Cheese Icing
This makes a modest, topping-only (or filling-only) amount. If you’re planning on using it as a filling as well as a topping, double these quantities.
300g cream cheese
3tbs plain flour
150ml whole milk
2-3tbs icing sugar (or to your taste)
zest of 1 lemon
lemon juice to taste
- Heat the milk with the flour, stirring with a whisk until the mixture thickens.
- Continue cooking and stirring for 1 minute after it boils. This extra bit of heating/stirring will ‘cook out’ the flour and ensure that the icing doesn’t taste floury.
- Pour the mixture onto a plate, cover with cling film, to prevent a skin forming and cool. NB Do NOT skip the cooling part – otherwise things will get messy. You can put the covered plate in the fridge for 30 minutes.
- When the flour mixture is cold, remove it from the plate and place it in a mixing bowl.
- Add the cream cheese and beat both together until smooth and thoroughly combined.
- Add icing sugar to taste – it really needs very little – no more than 2-3 tablespoons – and the lemon zest and mix thoroughly.
- Add lemon juice if required. NB Adding liquid will obviously make the icing less firm, so proceed carefully. I use the juice from just half of the lemon. If your hand slips and the icing is too soft for your liking, or even borderline runny, then panic not: Put the cake back into its tin (lined with foil so you can remove it easily later – plus, it helps keep the cake from drying out). Slather on the cream cheese icing, making sure you spread it right to the edge, so that no cake is visible (again, this will help prevent the cake from drying out). Put the iced cake into the fridge overnight, uncovered - this is important. The fridge will have a drying effect on the moisture in the icing and will firm it up beautifully by morning.
- When you’re happy with the taste, smooth the icing over the cooled cake and enjoy!
 If you don’t have a baking tray of roughly this size, I would strenuously recommend adding one to your collection – it is the one I use most: traybakes, shortbread, quiche, slab cakes, roasting joints of meat, roasting vegetables etc etc.