september 15, 2017
You know who you are. You’re that coworker, that neighbor, that friend who pokes around in your late summer garden and notices that the zucchini are big like kiddie baseball bats, and also numerous. What to do? You give them away. Your recipients scratch their heads and murmur thanks, wondering what will become of this summer squash on steroids and how they can possibly transform it into something edible. Knock on my door and I’ll be your best buddy! And if I’m feeling particularly magnanimous I’ll give you a slice of this cake.
Ah, this cake. Moist, dense and crowned with cinnamon cream cheese frosting. Very much like a carrot cake and just as good for breakfast. Yes, I said it. Breakfast. I first had carrot cake in college at Mr. Henry’s on Pennsylvania Avenue and it was a revelation. Dark, heavy, just the right amount of spice and slathered with a generous layer of cream cheese icing. Heaven. Fluffy cake is nice, but I’m fond of dense and I adore loads of frosting. Cake is the vehicle for frosting, I always say.
This cake is close to the zucchini walnut spice bread I have been making for clients and the ease of its creation makes it a winner. Whisk wet, whisk dry and add the shredded zucchini, chopped walnuts and drained pineapple. Not much labor there, but you will need an electric mixer for the frosting. I barely mix the frosting ingredients because I like dense and creamy, not fluffy and airy.
This cake will keep in the fridge up to one week and freezes well. What else can you do with monster zucchini? Served chilled or hot, Zucchini Cilantro Soup is easy to make with your immersion blender. Shredded zucchini is the secret ingredient for Bittersweet Chocolate Almond Tart. Spiralized zucchini is a pretty component of Shrimp, Avocado and Vegetable Salad. And who says you can only make one cake? Time to make like the squirrels and hoard for chillier days.
Zucchini Walnut Spice Cake
makes 12 servings
3 cups flour (I use Bob’s Red Mill 1-for-1 gluten free, but all purpose wheat flour works well, too)
2 ½ teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon fine sea salt – I like La Baleine
¼ teaspoon baking powder
2 cups sugar
1 cup neutral oil like canola or avocado or grapeseed
3 large eggs, room temperature
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 cup chopped walnuts
20 ounce can crushed pineapple in juice, drained well (reserve juice for cocktails or other beverages)
generous packed 1 ½ cups shredded zucchini, about one pound
4 ounces (one stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
8 ounce brick of full fat cream cheese
pinch fine sea salt
1 ½ teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
4 cups/one pound of powdered sugar
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees (if using dark pans, heat oven to 325 degrees).
- Grease and flour two 9 inch heavy round cake pans.
- In small mixing bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda and powder, salt , cinnamon and nutmeg.
- In large mixing bowl, whisk oil and sugar with vanilla; add eggs, one at a time, whisking well after each addition.
- Pour dry ingredients on top of wet, but do not mix yet; add zucchini, drained pineapple and walnuts, then use spatula to mix together until just combined.
- Divide batter between pans and bake until cake begins to pull away from the edges and tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 40-45 minutes..
- Allow cake to cool in pans 10-15 minutes, then remove onto cake racks to cool completely.
- For frosting, in large mixing bowl, cream together butter, cream cheese, vanilla, cinnamon and salt until just blended.
- Add powered sugar one cup at a time until mixed in without lumps, using spatula to scrape down bowl as needed.
- Place one cake layer, shiny top side down, onto cake server and spread half of frosting onto this layer.
- Repeat with top layer (shiny side down so frosting adheres without pulling and tearing), using remainder of frosting.
- In a cool setting, cake may be stored at room temperature up to a couple of days, but will keep best in the fridge up to one week; servings are easiest cut in the chilled state, and served best if allowed to soften at room temp about 15-20 minutes.