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Three healthy baking ideas full of seasonal goodies

Thursday 17 May 2018

Food and travel writer Georgina Ingham shares three delicious baking recipes that include garden-grown elements – so you can bake your own farm-to-table (or garden-to-table) goodies!

It’s baking season, folks! So, with Great Britain in the mood for cakes and sweet treats, we asked food and travel writer Georgina Ingham to work up three wonderful recipes with a healthy twist. And because it’s also the season for delicious fruit and root veg, each bake has something you can grow in your garden as the main ingredient.

As well as adding these nutritious fruits and vegetables, we’ve also substituted some of the ingredients for healthier alternatives. But if you can’t get your hands on agave syrup and coconut sugar, don’t worry – you can always switch back to plain old sugar.

Persian Carrot Cake


  • 300g self-raising flour
  • 225g plain flour
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon (ground)
  • 2 teaspoons cardamom (ground)
  • 200g light muscovado sugar
  • 50ml agave syrup
  • 300g carrots (grated)
  • 150g raisins
  • 100g pistachios (roughly chopped)
  • 280ml vegetable oil
  • 5 eggs (lightly beaten)
  • 350g Greek yoghurt (low fat)
  • 2 tablespoons orange-blossom water
  • 500g mascarpone (low fat)
  • 200g golden icing sugar (sifted)
  • 100g carrot jam
A persian carrot cake


  1. 1. Preheat the oven to 180°C/gas mark 4.
  2. 2. Grease and line a 25cm spring-form round cake tin with baking parchment. Sift the flours and spices into a large bowl and stir in the sugar, carrot, raisins and pistachios.
  3. 3. In a separate bowl whisk together the agave syrup, oil, eggs, yoghurt and one tablespoon of orange blossom water.
  4. 4. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir gently to just combine. Be careful not to overwork the mixture as it can make the cake heavy and dense.
  5. 5. Pour the mixture into the tin and smooth over the top.
  6. 6. Bake in the centre of the oven for 1.5 hours, or until a cake tester inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean.
  7. 7. Remove the cake from the oven and leave to cool in the tin on a wire rack for 15 minutes before turning out and allowing to cool completely.
  8. 8. When the cake is cool, make the icing by whisking the mascarpone, icing sugar and remaining tablespoon of orange blossom water together until smooth and fully combined.
  9. 9. Use a bread knife to carefully split the cake in half.
  10. 10. Spread the carrot jam over the bottom half of the cake and then spread a third of the mascarpone frosting over this.
  11. 11. Sandwich the cake halves together and ice the top of the cake with the remaining frosting, leaving the sides naked. Drizzle with a little extra carrot jam if wished.

Sweet & Spicy Chocolate Beetroot Brownies


  • 250g dark chocolate, chopped into small pieces
  • 500g beetroot, cooked and peeled
  • 100ml vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoon Camp coffee (or 1 teaspoon of instant coffee dissolved in 1 tablespoon boiling water)
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne chilli powder
  • 50ml agave syrup
  • 100g caster sugar
  • 100g cocoa powder
  • 50g plain flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 150g ground almonds
A tray of sweet & spicy beetroot brownies


  1. 1. Preheat oven to 180°C/gas mark 4. Use baking parchment to line a rectangular tin, roughly 25x25cm.
  2. 2. Put the chocolate in a large bowl and place it over a pan of simmering water, making sure the water doesn’t touch the base of the bowl. Leave to melt, then remove from the heat.
  3. 3. Purée the cooked beetroot in a food processor. Add the eggs one at a time, followed by the vegetable oil, Camp coffee, cayenne powder, agave syrup and sugar, and blitz until smooth.
  4. 4. Sift the cocoa powder, plain flour and baking powder into a bowl and stir in the ground almonds.
  5. 5. Stir the beetroot mixture into the melted chocolate and then fold in the dry ingredients.
  6. 6. Pour the mixture into the tin and bake in the oven for 30–35 minutes, until just firm to the touch. It’s important not to overcook brownies; a skewer inserted in the centre should come out slightly sticky.
  7. 7. Leave to cool in the tin and then cut into squares.

  8. Browned Butter Pear Crumble Traybake


For the crumble topping:

  • 50g plain flour
  • 25g rolled oats
  • 50g light muscovado sugar
  • 30g salted butter cut into cubes (kept cold)

For the cake base:

  • 100g salted butter cut into cubes (at room temperature)
  • 100g pear puree
  • 200g plain flour
  • 75g rolled oats
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice mix (or mixed spice)
  • 200g coconut sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 large pears, peeled, cored and cut into small chunks
  • Icing sugar (optional)

For the pear puree:

  • 4 pears peeled, cored and cut into small chunks
  • 100ml water
3 pears


  1. 1. Make the topping first by combining the flour, oats, sugar and salt in a medium bowl. Using your fingertips, rub in the butter until moist crumbs form and no dry flour remains. Cover and chill while you make the base.
  2. 2. Make the pear puree by simmering the pears in water until tender then blitzing in a food processor until smooth.
  3. 3. Preheat oven to 180°C/gas mark 4.
  4. 4. Line a rectangular baking tray roughly 25x25cm with baking paper.
  5. 5. Place the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat, swirling occasionally, until melted, deep golden brown, and dark brown bits form at the bottom of pan (do not burn); this will take 7-8 minutes. Pour into a medium bowl and let the browned butter cool slightly.
  6. 6. Stir the pear puree, flour, oats, baking powder, pumpkin pie spice, and salt in a large bowl; set aside.
  7. 7. Whisk the sugar, eggs, and vanilla in another large bowl until the batter is thick and smooth.
  8. 8. Slowly pour the browned butter into the brown sugar mixture, whisking constantly; whisk until well blended.
  9. 9. Add the pear chunks to the bowl of dry ingredients and toss to coat before stirring into the batter. Using a spatula, scrape the batter into the prepared baking tray and smooth the top.
  10. 10. Scatter the chilled topping over the batter.
  11. 11. Bake until golden brown, with the edges pulling away from sides of pan, and a tester inserted into the centre comes out almost clean, with a few moist crumbs attached; approximately 25-30 minutes.
  12. 12. Transfer to a wire rack and leave to cool completely in the tray.
  13. 13. Cut the traybake into squares and dust with icing sugar just before serving, if desired.

  14. Notes

  1. 1. The brownies and traybake can easily be made gluten free by swapping the plain flour for gluten-free flour (be sure to check the product packaging to ensure all your ingredients are labelled as ‘gluten free’ or ‘free from gluten’).
  2. 2. The butter in the recipes can be replaced with a vegetable fat or soya-based margarine, but check that the product is ‘suitable for baking’, as some spreads aren’t. Also ensure that the margarine doesn’t contain hydrogenated fats, as these are considered to have a negative effect on cholesterol and are now thought to be linked with heart disease*.
  3. 3. If you want to increase the fibre content of the bakes, you can replace up to half of the plain flour with wholemeal flour. This will result in a slightly heavier cake with a nutty flavour.

Georgina Ingham is a freelance writer and photographer with a specialist interest in food and travel. She blogs at Culinary Travels and you can follow her on Twitter @CulinaryTravels.


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