Michelle Darmody: 3 recipes for baking with vegetables

* Beetroot brownies
Courgette loaf
Parsnip buns 

Vegetables can add moisture, bulk and even nice flavours to a cake.

Beetroot adds a deep rich colour and earthy flavour that when paired with chocolate it makes for a nice treat. 

The beetroot recipe here is a soft smooth brownie, it can also be made with roughly grated beetroot instead of the puree if you prefer.

The courgette cake contains golden raisins. I sometimes substitute these for blueberries instead with adds a burst of colour and nice taste sensations. 

The water content of courgettes is very high and you want to trap all the liquid in your cake. 

Do not squeeze the grated courgette, but stir all moisture into the batter for succulence.

Other vegetables are sweeter so they make more sense in a sweet baked treat.

Sweet potatoes can be used as well as pumpkins which work well this time of year with warming spices such as cinnamon and nutmeg. Carrots have long been used to sweeten baking. 

There are records of carrot pudding from medieval times. Here I have included a recipe for parsnip buns with a nice cream cheese topping.

Beetroot brownies

Michelle Darmody: 3 recipes for baking with vegetables

  • 400g of boiled beetroot, topped and tailed and without the skin
  • 100g of butter, cubed
  • 200g of dark chocolate, broken into small pieces
  • 220g of caster sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 100g of plain flour
  • 25g of coco powder


Line a 10 x 10 inch baking tin with baking parchment and heat the oven to 180 degrees.

When the boiled beetroot is still warm add it with three quarters of the chocolate and the butter into a liquidser and blitz until it forms a paste. Beat the eggs and sugar in a large bowl until doubled in volume. Fold the beetroot paste into the egg mixture. Gently fold in the flour, coco and the rest of the chocolate chips.

Pour into the lined tray and bake at 180 degrees for 25 minutes.

Courgette loaf

Michelle Darmody: 3 recipes for baking with vegetables

  • 125 mls of light olive oil
  • 85 g of brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 350g of courgettes, roughly grated
  • 2 tsp of orange blossom water
  • the zest of 2 oranges
  • 300g of plain flour
  • ½ tsp of bread soda
  • ½ tsp of baking powder
  • 150g of golden raisins


Line a 2 lb loaf tin and pre heat the oven to 180 degrees.

Whisk the oil, sugar and eggs until a bit of volume is added. Add the courgettes, orange blossom water and orange zest.

Sieve the soda, powder and flour into the mixture and stir then in until combined. Stir in the raisins and scoop into the lined loaf tin.

Bake for an hour, test by sticking in a skewer and when it comes out clean you know the cake is cooked through.

Parsnip buns

Michelle Darmody: 3 recipes for baking with vegetables

  • 120g of flour
  • 1 tsp of ground nutmeg
  • 1 tsp of ground cardamom
  • 1 ½ tsp of baking powder
  • a pinch of sea salt
  • 150g of light brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 150 mls of light olive oil
  • 1 large parsnip, peeled and roughly grated
  • 220g of cream cheese
  • 1 tsp of vanilla essence
  • the zest of a lemon
  • 20 mls of honey
  • 20g of icing sugar


Line a bun tin with 12 cases and pre heat the oven to 180 degrees. Sieve the flour, nutmeg, cardamon and baking powder together and add in a pinch of salt.

Whisk together the sugar, eggs and oil and stir in the parsnip. Stir in the dry ingredients until completely combined.

Scoop into the bun cases and bake for about 18 minutes until they are cooked through. You can test the buns by sticking in a skewer and when it comes out clean you know the cake is cooked through.

Whisk together the cream cheese, vanilla, honey, lemon zest and icing sugar. When the buns are cool pallet the icing on with a knife.


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