Wednesday, March 27, 2013

March Daring Bakers' Challenge - Hidden Veggies

This month's Daring Bakers' Challenge was fun, daring and just a little bit sneaky.

Ruth from Makey-Cakey was our March 2013 Daring Bakers’ challenge host. She encouraged us all to get experimental in the kitchen and sneak some hidden veggies into our baking, with surprising and delicious results!

Believe it or not, there are countless ways to incorporate vegetables into sweet treats. I have made several before, from the obvious (like carrot cake and zucchini bread) to the slightly more obscure (like avocado pudding and black bean brownies).

The thought behind this challenge, though, was to go unexpected. And to try to incorporate a vegetable that you wouldn't expect into a true dessert - the sneakier the better!  And I had so many ideas. I actually wanted to make at least three different desserts incorporating three different vegetables.

But, as is becoming a theme in my posts lately, time totally ran away from me.

The good news is that I made the one dessert that I most wanted to, the one that I thought would be the most fun to make and to feed to my kids. And one that went with the holiday we celebrated earlier this month.

I told the kids that I was making them leprechaun cake.

What I didn't tell them was what was in it.

Yup - that's spinach. A big bowl of spinach. Which was pureed down (using a combination of my mini food processor, the immersion blender, and a lot of patience) into a cup of... green mush.

That spinach was then used to create a cake batter...

...that baked into this mostly innocuous looking cake.

And that's where my story to the ids came into play. I baked, cooled and frosted this cake while little miss was at school.  When I picked her up from school, I told her I baked a special leprechaun cake. That it was a "normal" cake, baked with magic and wishes. And that while I frosted the cake, I made special wishes for St. Patrick's Day luck and for the leprechauns to come visit us.

I then told her that we'd know if I did it right when we cut into it.

None of us could wait.

And the results were so worth it.

Vibrant green and super delicious. We could barely taste the spinach, too. And the little bit we could taste, little miss said she thought tasted like clover. You know, from the leprechauns.

And the cake was even better the next day. And with all the spinach goodness baked in, I had no problem letting the kids have it as an after school snack. Or, you know, sneaking fork-fulls here and there throughout the day.

So while I am disappointed in myself for not making the other two hidden-vegetable desserts I'd wanted to (which I will make and blog about - I promise!), I am super pleased with how this one came out, and with how fun it was to make, eat and share.

For additional inspiration and ideas as to how bake delicious sweet treats using a variety of vegetables, check out Ruth's challenge and also the amazing treats baked up by the other Daring Bakers.

Ruth, thank you so much for this delicious, fun and inspiring challenge. I can't wait to continue with some sneaky baking!

Spinach Cake
(from Mom! What's for dinner?)

3 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 cups of sugar
1- 6oz or 8oz bag of (big leaf) spinach, you need 1 cup puree, 3/4 cup is fine too (use fresh, not frozen)
3/4 cup of olive oil (light or extra light works best)
2 tbsp lemon juice
2 cups flour
3 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray 9" x 13" pyrex pan with non-stick cooking spray.
Remove stems from spinach if too thick or long. Puree spinach in food processor or blender until pureed and looks like baby food. This takes a few minutes, so be patient.
Beat eggs and sugar together until light and creamy. Add oil, lemon juice and 1 cup pureed spinach. Mix well.
In a separate bowl sift flour, baking powder, and salt (I use a whisk and blend in a bowl)  and blend into spinach mixture for 1 minute. Pour into prepared pan.
Bake at 350 for about 30 mins check with toothpick. Let cool in pan, when completely cool top with whipped cream.
If you like you can make it in 2- 9 inch pans and layer the cake, or make cupcakes.



  1. Hey Shelley! Love your leprechaun cake and all the magic involved :)
    I always enjoy your posts so much, the way your kids interact with all things foodie. Great job! Bet they will never forget that for the rest of their lives!!

  2. Oh these look stunning, great job at the challenge!!!

  3. I wanted to try to doing a spinach cake, since a sweet pea/basil cupcake that I did a while back came out so good. Can't wait to try out your recipe.

  4. Color is beautiful, great job on the challenge!

  5. Love it! The cake, the story you told your kids about baking it with magic and wishes, that your daughter thought it tasted like clover "from the leprechauns" (!!)... Too great. Can't wait for your other veggie-baking posts :)

  6. Lovely post - and a fantastic cake! The leprachaun story is just so cute to tell kids - good creative Mum thinking ;-)
    Thanks for taking part this month!

  7. What a beautiful cake! Somehow, I don't think my husband would buy into the magical leprechaun story though...

  8. I love it! A leprechaun cake! You are sooo clever! LOL And the cake turned out gorgeously! I LOVE that vibrant color! I need to make this cake!!!

  9. The colour is just stunning! It looks wonderful!

  10. Oh, I love the idea of working spinach into a cake. Love, love this!

  11. I love the story Shelley and love the color!
    I really had fun sneaking things past the kids this month :) I should have taken pictures of their expressions with each reveal lol

  12. I love it! Who could resist a naturally green cake?

  13. Cool. My daughter has a thing for leprechauns after we visited Ireland last year, might just have to give this a go [not a fan of spinach myself let alone Miss 8].

  14. I think this is pretty cool Shelley! Just beautiful! Love the green and the story. This was a fab challenge!

  15. Wow! I love the color of the cake, and the story that goes along with it. Wish I could grab a slice through the screen!

  16. Love the story! And the cake :) Can't wait to see what you do with the other two hidden veggie recipes..

  17. Great time to bake a green cake! Did the spinach taste lessen the longer it sat? For my black bean chocolate cake the recipe said the longer it sat the less it would taste like beans. Nice job on the challenge!

  18. The cake looks fabulous and I love the story too. :)

  19. I can't believe how green it looks! I love it. :)

  20. What a gorgeous green from the spinach! Popeye would be all over this cake, as would I! I know what I'm making for Irish friends next St. Paddy's Day! :) What a great idea to call it a Leprechaun cake! I'm not a kid and I'd buy it! lol


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