Swapping butter for veges in cakes sounds a bit crazy but makes for a healthier treat.

Today it's time for cake, if you are anything like me, it doesn't take too long for your sweet tooth to begin niggling for a little attention. These are cake recipes with a bit of a difference though - none use butter, though it is used in two of the icing recipes. The theory is that when grated vegetables are used with ground almonds, a moist and fluffy texture results without having to use much sugar and no butter at all. I wrinkled my nose and was sceptical but curiosity got the better of me and I couldn't help having an experiment.

It's a great way to include pumpkin, carrot, beetroot, kumara and courgette without necessarily tasting the veges, but reaping the nutritional benefits. I have never been such a fan of overly sweet cakes where the icing dominates so these suit me fine. Ice with a slight swirl or pipe on a decadent amount - it's entirely up to you.

These cakes look gorgeous piled on to a cake stand. Vintage stands can be hired and are a charming idea for a special event such as a christening or a wedding.

The first cake uses grated pumpkin - ask your greengrocer for the sweetest available. Pumpkin is low in fat and high in fibre, plus it contributes a natural sweetness and attractive colour to the cakes. Grated courgette adds moisture, so the cake will be soft, as well as plenty of potassium and vitamin A.


Chef's tip

Don't limit yourself to muffin tins when making these cakes. Have a nosy around kitchen stores for different sizes and shapes as well as different paper cases. Baking moulds and trays from another era can often be found in second hand stores and only need a little love and a bit of elbow grease to return to their former glory.