Food & Drink

Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s courgette, honey and lemon cake recipe

The vegetable cake trend isn’t going anywhere.

Courgette, honey and lemon cake
Courgette, honey and lemon cake Courgette, honey and lemon cake

“The mighty lemon drizzle cake is everyone’s favourite bake,” says Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall. “This spin on it has the unlikely inclusion of courgettes, which balances the sweetness and keeps the cake nice and moist too. It’s also a great way to make a dent in a glut of summer courgettes.

“The lemon drizzle topping makes it irresistibly zingy. You can also serve the cake as a dessert with crème fraîche, summer berries and an extra trickle of honey.”

Courgette, honey and lemon cake


(Makes 8–10 slices)

350g coarsely grated courgettes (about 2 medium)

½tsp fine salt

150g wholemeal spelt flour

100g fine plain wholemeal flour

100g ground almonds or hazelnuts

½tsp bicarbonate soda

1tsp baking powder

30g poppy seeds (optional)

125ml rapeseed or coconut oil

50g soft light brown sugar

30g honey

3 medium eggs

Finely grated zest and juice of 2 lemons

4 sprigs of thyme, leaves picked and chopped (optional)

50ml milk

For the lemon drizzle:

Finely grated zest and juice of 1 lemon

1tbsp honey

20g caster sugar

(Lizzie Mayson/PA)


1. Preheat the oven to 180°C/160°C Fan/Gas 4 and line a 1kg (2lb) loaf tin with baking paper.

2. Tip the grated courgettes into a fine-meshed sieve set over a bowl. Sprinkle with the salt and toss through (it will draw out moisture from the veg). Leave to drain for 20 minutes or so, then press the courgettes with the back of a spoon to get rid of a bit more water.

3. In a bowl, mix together the flours, ground nuts, bicarbonate of soda, baking powder and poppy seeds if using. Set aside.

4. In a large bowl, whisk together the oil, sugar and honey. Beat in the eggs, one by one, then stir in the grated courgettes, lemon zest and juice, and the thyme if using. Now gently fold in the flour mixture, alternately with the milk. Pour the mixture into the prepared loaf tin and bake for 45–50 minutes until golden and risen.

5. While the cake is in the oven, make the lemon drizzle. In a small bowl, lightly mix the lemon zest and juice with the honey and sugar to combine without dissolving the sugar.

6. To check the cake is cooked, insert a skewer into the middle – it should come out clean. As soon as you take the cake from the oven, spoon the lemon drizzle over the surface. Leave the cake in the tin for 10 minutes then transfer it to a wire rack and allow to cool completely before slicing and serving.

Swaps and additions:

Use grated squash or pumpkin instead of courgette. Or go 50:50 with courgette and a grated root, such as beetroot, carrot or parsnip. Just mix it with the courgette before salting. Beetroot, as you can imagine, makes a gorgeous pinky purple version.

How to Eat 30 Plants a Week by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall is published by Bloomsbury, priced £25. Photography by Lizzie Mayson. Available now.