Sunday, April 24, 2011

Eat your veggies ... in a cake

I wasn't surprised when I saw David Lebovitz's post about a zucchini cake. Zucchini, in the squash family of vegetables, is one of the most versatile vegetables/ingredients to cook with. Whether in a savoury tart, bread or dessert, the zucchini takes on and enhances flavours really, really well. So a zucchini cake? Sure, why not.

Over in these parts, Zucchinis are expensive but I pay the price because I love cooking/baking with zucchini.  This was my first zucchini cake, though and I was excited. I was sure it would taste good, but I wanted to know just how good.

So, apart from the usual ingredients required to bake a cake -- flour, baking powder/soda, sugar and eggs -- this cake used olive oil instead of butter, a bunch of spices (cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg) and grated lemon rind. Oh and toasted walnuts ... lots of walnuts.

It also has a glaze. A deliciously tangy glaze with lemon juice, granulated sugar and powdered sugar. Sounds like a whole lot of sugar, right? But the cake itself isn't too sweet so the glaze is just the perfect finish. The use of granulated sugar adds a crunch to the glaze which contrasts well with the moistness of the actual cake. 

And the lemon? It's not what I would have envisioned for the cake but what do I know? Turns out it is just what's needed to complement the spiciness of the cake.

So, back to the zucchini.

The high-moisture content of the zucchini helps make the cake moist, I think. The result? A lovely fluffy and moist cake.

Try it. You won't regret it. I promise.

Zucchini and walnut cake
adapted from David Lebovitz

1 cup walnuts, toasted and chopped fine.
2 cups flour
2/12 cups finely grated zucchini
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp sea salt
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground nutmeg
1 tsp ground ginger
3 large eggs (at room temp)
11/2 cup sugar
1 cup olive oil
2 tbsp grated lemon zest

For the glaze
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/3 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup icing sugar

Beat the sugar, eggs and oil in an electric mixer till light, about 3-5 mins; med speed. Add vanilla extract, mix for another 30 seconds.
Sift the flour, baking powder and soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and salt. Add to the egg mixture and beat till well incorporated.
Fold in the zucchini and nuts.
Pour batter into a greased baking pan and bake in  a preheated oven (180C) for 45-50 mins or till a cake tester comes out clean.

Remove and let cake cool for 10 mins. Meanwhile make glaze by whisking the juice and sugars till they're all well mixed. Drizzle generously on cake before the cake cools.

Eat warm. Or cold.

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