Herb, cheese and vegetable torte

Photo: Christine O'Connor
Photo: Christine O'Connor
A cake with only one tablespoon of sugar and a lot of vegetables? Yes and it's truly scrumptious.

Warmly spiced and delectably moist it is a glorious mix of colours, flavours and textures. Everyone I have served it to asks for another slice and for the recipe.

Basil pesto adds an intensely piquant note and the sharp cheddar injects a little zing.

I don't apologise for using canned or frozen sweet corn, a speedy (no chopping required) and somewhat comforting addition.

I often serve this in place of bread to accompany soups, salads and other savoury dishes. It is also delicious sliced and served with a cup of tea or coffee.

Do, however, warn your guests this is not a sweet bite. It is also surprisingly good topped with a crumble of blue cheese and enjoyed with a glass of wine or port.

Cuts into 16-18 slices

280g standard flour
1 Tbsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp cayenne pepper
1 Tbsp sugar
1 Tbsp poppy seeds
100g grated tasty cheddar cheese
100g whole kernel corn, canned or frozen, if frozen thawed
½ medium onion (50g) finely chopped
3 Tbsp finely chopped mint leaves
50g sundried tomatoes, well drained and finely chopped
80g grated carrot
2 large eggs, size 7
½ cup plain unsweetened yoghurt
½ cup basil pesto
approx ⅓ cup milk to mix

To serve
a little melted butter and chopped fresh herbs

Heat the oven to 190degC.

Lightly oil a 20cm ring tin and line the base with non-stick baking paper.

Sift the flour, baking powder, salt and cayenne pepper into a large mixing bowl. Add the sugar, poppy seeds, cheese, whole kernel corn, onion, mint, sundried tomatoes and grated carrot. Toss together gently. Set aside.

In a medium mixing bowl combine the eggs, yoghurt, basil pesto and 3 Tbsp of milk. Whisk lightly together. Add this mixture to the dry ingredients and using a large metal spoon stir together until just folded in, adding a little more milk if needed.

Do not overmix.

Spoon the mixture into the prepared tin, smooth the top and bake for 35-40 minutes until golden, the top feels firm to touch and a skewer comes out clean when inserted in the centre. Leave in the tin for 10 minutes. Use a knife to loosen the sides before turning out on to a wire rack, remove baking paper, turn right way up and leave to cool.

Shortly before serving, brush the top of the cake lightly with melted butter and sprinkle with chopped fresh herbs.

This cake keeps for up to four days if stored in an airtight container in a cool place.


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