A bit like in the case of a carrot cake, the broccoli in this cake doesn’t necessarily add flavour (the parmigiano and lemon do the heavy lifting) but it does add vegetable substance in the place of extra carbs. And even though some of the nutrients have been lost in the boiling, the cake is still built with a veg component and as a consequence, less refined flour.

I developed this recipe as part of seasonal ingredients stories for Ci Piace Cucinare magazine, and based it on a basic ciambellone recipe which uses oil instead of butter and gives a nice moist elastic cake. A great way to use up that head of broccoli looking a bit sad in the crisper, it is fabulous for breakfast, sliced and toasted with a little butter.  Muffins would work well too.

Plumcake salata con broccoli, limone e parmigiano Broccoli cake with lemon and parmigiano

Ingredients for an approx 20 cm loaf tin

250 g plain flour
7 g baking powder
300 g broccoli – Sicilian or regular dark green broccoli
Pinch of salt
2 eggs
100 ml sunflower oil
120 g natural yogurt
100 g grated Parmigiano Reggiano – Grana Padano – or aged cow’s milk cheese for grating
1 untreated lemon
Ground black pepper

Wash the broccoli and cut off the tough end of the trunk.  Break the head into florets, peel and chop the trunk.  The tender leaves can be chopped, and the big tougher ones eliminated.  Boil the broccoli for 12-14 minutes in lightly salted water until it is nice and soft.  Drain really well, the broccoli should be collapsing.  (Next time I make this I will try steaming to help retain the B’s and the C’s, would love to hear if anyone tries this).

Preheat the oven to 180°C.

Finely grate 100g of Parmigiano Reggiano, Grana Padano or other aged cow’s milk cheese suited to grating.  Finely zest an untreated lemon using a fine grater or microplane.  Set aside about 10 g of cheese and mix with half the lemon zest and a good grind of pepper, for the top of the cake. 

Sift the flour, baking powder and a pinch of salt into a large bowl or stand mixer, and then add the yogurt, lightly beaten eggs, drained broccoli and then the oil, mixing well to incorporate ingredients.  Add the parmigiano and lemon zest and once the batter is evenly mixed pour into a buttered and floured loaf tin.  Sprinkle the lemon/parmigiano/pepper mix over the top of the batter and put into the preheated oven.

Cooking time will be around 50-55 minutes, the top should be golden and firm.  Use a skewer to test that the centre of the cake is well cooked.  Serve warm or at room temp.  Will keep happily in an airtight tin for several days.


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