This is one of those recipes where you just can't quite imagine the taste by hearing the title. My eyebrows lifted when I read the recipe for an asparagus cake but after preparing it twice, successfully, it turns out it's not a bad cake after all.
I'm fairly confident you can cover up the taste of just about any vegetable with copious amounts of sugar and turn it into a dessert. I now know this rule applies to asparagus as well.
I was asked to help prepare some dishes for the "May Flower Long Lunch" that took place at The Arts & Cookery Bank located in West Lorne, ON. The theme of the lunch was asparagus and every dish was made using the green vegetable as a component. It was simple enough to think of traditional, delicious menu ideas such as asparagus soup and asparagus quiche, but what about dessert?
No matter how much I tried to 'taste' the sweet indulgent side of asparagus, I just couldn't do it. Asparagus is so distinctive and savoury, similar to broccoli or artichokes, and although I know it can be paired with many other complementary flavours, using it as a finale to a meal was a challenging idea.
I would like to thank Grace at the cookery bank and Google image search because both of their recommendations to try an asparagus cake led me to a recipe for Asparagus Bundt Cake on The Taste of Home website.
With the addition of sugar, pineapple, cinnamon, and orange, the recipe sounded like a alternate version of a carrot or zucchini cake. With a few of my own tweaks, like the addition of local organic buckwheat honey and unsweetened coconut, it most certainly was. Dense, rich, filling, sweet-pretending-to-be-healthy, it's a cake I will prepare again, perhaps as soon as local beets make an appearance at the farmers' market.
If you have never made a carrot or zucchini cake before, most recipes rely on the use of a simple cooking technique called the 'quick-bread' method. Basically the idea is to mix dry ingredients together in one bowl, mix the wet together in another, then mix the wet into the dry. The method usually requires the use of a chemical leavener such as baking soda and/or eggs to help the batter or dough rise. Here is aprevious blog post I shared outlining the method (with a recipe for corn muffins).
Asparagus & Honey Cake - Recipe
Adapted from Taste of Home
In this recipe I substituted the white sugar with a blend of brown sugar and buckwheat honey (for a malted-like flavour) but you could use whatever sugar and honey you prefer. To grate the asparagus: cut off woody end pieces and use a cheese grater to shred the spears. Squeeze out excess water before adding to cake batter. I saved the tips of the spears for salad and only used the stalks for grating. The original recipe calls for a cream cheese frosting but the cake is plenty sweet without it. I have used both a square pan and a bundt pan to bake this cake and they work equally well. Adjust your baking times as necessary as it is a wet, dense cake. Muffins would bake much faster.
3 c all-purpose flour
1 c brown sugar
2 t baking soda
1 t ground cinnamon
1/2 t kosher salt
1 1/2 c sunflower oil (or olive oil)
1/2 c buckwheat honey
2 T orange juice
1 T orange zest
2 c grated asparagus, drained
1 can crushed pineapple, un-drained (8 oz)
3/4 c unsweetened shredded coconut
3/4 c golden raisins, rinsed and dried
Arts & Cookery Bank - Part II
In a previous post I shared a picture and recipe for Rhubarb Granita, the Italian ice I prepared and served for a reception held The Arts & Cookery Bank. A few more photos have surfaced via the bank's Facebook page which I am sharing below. (Just want to clarify I did not take these pictures but I did prepare the food.)
Eating. Drinking. Sharing.