Marrows are undoubtedly the bland cousin of the courgette family. Their fairly plain taste, firm outer flesh and strange cotton wool core (which is discarded before cooking) leaves it decidedly lagging behind in the Vegetable Of The Year contest. However, for all that I’ve just disparaged the poor marrow, it acts extremely well as a carrier vegetable which can be stuffed with strong, well-flavoured fillings, allowing the flavours of your chosen stuffing to sing very loudly indeed.
I’ve always asserted that the manifesto of my website is to share my adventures in food therefore, when I spotted a small marrow for the reduced price of 15p in the supermarket the other day I thought I’d attempt to have a small adventure with the humble marrow. After looking on the internet for some advice as to how to approach cooking marrows to get the best results from them I decided to make two things with it. The first experiment was this marrow praline cake and the second is savoury stuffed marrow (a recipe which will be posted on the website soon).
Much like when I first made courgette cake, I was pretty unsure how the marrow praline cake would turn out. Would it have a strong flavour? Would the marrow flesh be too dry or even too wet for the cake batter to cook properly? And how would it work with the gluten-free flours I tend to bake with nowadays?
When I was preparing the marrow I was struck by the fact that it had a lovely fresh, grassy, peanut sort of smell and wasn’t overpowering at all. As a result, the grated marrow worked just like courgette does, adding no real vegetable flavour to the cake sponge, but still infusing it with a fantastic amount of moisture and texture. (I only used about half of my marrow for the cake. I reserved the other half to make stuffed marrow slices for dinner that night, so you probably won’t need to use the whole thing.)
This marrow praline cake is a delightfully moist chocolatey cake that’s dotted throughout with crunchy pieces of hazelnut and sandwiched and topped with a maple syrup-infused hazelnut buttercream. It’s a delight to serve, a pleasure to eat and most certainly elevates the Vegetable of the Year status of the plain old marrow.
300g grated marrow
2 large eggs
80ml vegetable oil
60ml coconut oil (melted)
2 tsps vanilla extract
80 ml rice milk
200g brown sugar
150g gluten-free flour (I use Dove’s Farm G/F flour because it’s made with low FODMAP ingredients whereas many other gluten-free flours are made with high FODMAP options.)
120g chopped hazelnuts (put 100g into the cake mix, but keep 20g aside to decorate the cake)
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 tsp xanthan gum
1/2 tsp salt
For the buttercream icing:
150g icing sugar
75g butter (or dairy-free butter)
1 tbsp maple syrup
1 tbsp of rice milk
Preheat your oven to 190C/170C Fan/375F/Gas mark 5.
Line two cake tins with greaseproof paper.
Prepare your marrow by washing it, cutting off the two ends, slicing it down the middle, removing the inner core with a spoon, and grating the remaining flesh. (I used my food processor for this job which made it a lot easier to grate the large amount of marrow.)
Measure all of your wet ingredients into a mixing bowl (the grated marrow, eggs, oils, vanilla and milk).
Measure all of the dry ingredients into another bowl and stir until combined.
Add the wet ingredients to the dry and mix well.
Divide the cake mix between the two cake tins equally and bake for 45 to 50 mins or until a skewer pushed into the middle of the cake comes out fairly clean. (It’s quite a moist cake anyway, so don’t worry too much if the skewer has a little moisture on it.)
Remove from the oven and leave to cool.
Once cool, blend the maple buttercream ingredients together and sandwich the cake together with half of the buttercream before topping the cake with the other half of the buttercream icing.
Decorate with the leftover chopped hazelnuts and serve.