A recipe for delicious lemon and spinach bars and a review of the Veggie Desserts and Cakes recipe book. Vegetables in cakes? Sounds good to me.
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Adding extra portions of vegetables to my food is nothing new to me. With a seven year old who eats no fresh fruit and vegetables I'd say that hidden vegetable recipes are pretty essential around here. Hey, I started a whole blog around the idea after all.
So when I saw that Kate Hackworthy had published a cookbook based around the idea of baking with vegetables I knew I had to try it. Read on for my review of Veggie Desserts and Cakes. Kate has also let me share her recipe for lemon and spinach bars.
What is the Veggie Desserts book like?
Veggie Desserts has taken the concept of using vegetables as an ingredient to a whole new level. Her recipes, both on her blog and now on her brand new cookbook, use all manner of vegetables to add vitamins, goodness and nutrients.
Veggie Desserts + Cakes*, which was published earlier this summer, isn't a book about hiding vegetables into cake for kids. Nor is it a healthy baking book. The recipes use butter and sugar. You'll find cheesecakes, cup cakes, muffins and layer cakes inside. What it is is a celebration of vegetables and proof that they can be used to add colour, flavour and taste to your baking.
The book isn't just carrot cake. You'll find peas, sweetcorn, kale, parsnip and courgettes used in the bakes and desserts in the book. There's even a rainbow layer cake which would be perfect for a kids birthday party. And why wouldn't you want to add a little bit of extra goodness to your bakes?
I love this book. I literally want to bake everything in it and struggled big time to choose a recipe to make to share here. However, every time I opened the book it fell open on the lemon and spinach bars page so it felt like I should start with that. Next on my list is mascarpone tart with beetroot pastry. I'm so intrigued by the idea of the beetroot pastry that I wouldn't be surprised if a savoury version appeared on Sneaky Veg soon.
Kate and her publishers, Pavilion Books, have kindly agreed to let me share the recipe for the spinach and lemon bars here with you.
My kids (and the grown ups) absolutely loved these bars. R, 7, was suspicious because they were green. I told a tiny white lie - that they were made from green biscuits - as I didn't want him to run away without even trying them.
However, I was honest afterwards and told him they were made with spinach. He's already asked me to make them again and I think next time I'll get him to help me.
Pin lemon and spinach bars for later
How to make the Veggie Desserts lemon and spinach bars:
Lemon and spinach bars
For the base
- 75 g spinach leaves
- 75 g unsalted butter softened, plus extra for greasing
- 2 tbsp caster sugar
- 115 g plain flour
For the lemon filling
- 4 large free-range eggs
- 200 g granulated sugar
- 150 ml lemon juice
- 3 tbsp lemon zest
- 40 g plain flour
- 1 tbsp butter
- 1 tbsp icing sugar
- Preheat the oven to 180°C/160°C fan/gas mark 4. Grease and line a 20cm square baking tin.
- Wilt 75g spinach in a pan with a small amount of boiling water, then run under cold water to refresh, then squeeze out the moisture. Purée with a hand blender until smooth.
- In a large bowl, beat 75g unsalted butter and 2 tbsp caster sugar together with an electric mixer until smooth, but not too fluffy and aerated. Add the spinach purée and beat well. Sift in 115g plain flour and mix gently.
- Pour the mixture into the prepared pan, spread to the edges and press down firmly with the back of a damp spoon. Be sure that the mixture goes right into all the edges and there aren't any holes. Bake for 25 minutes, or until the edges begin to turn golden.
To make the lemon filling
- Meanwhile, in a saucepan, whisk 4 large eggs and 200g granulated sugar until well combined, then add the 150ml lemon juice and 3 tbsp lemon zest and gently whisk until completely combined. Gradually sift in 40g plain flour, whisking gently to combine, and add 1 tbsp butter. Heat the mixture, stirring constantly, until thick and the butter has melted.
- Spoon the mixture over the warm crust, spread evenly to the edges and bake for 25 minutes, or until the edges begin to turn golden. The filling will firm up as it cools. Leave to cool completely in the pan, then dust with 1 tbsp icing sugar and cut into squares to serve.
Want to read more reviews of Veggie Desserts and Cakes? Here's a few:
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