Although our garden is really small, we still have a surplus of zucchini. Sound familiar? I’ve grilled it, sauteed it, used it in gratins, have made fritters and shredded it for a frittata. Of course there’s always one zucchini that goes undetected, hiding under one of these gigantic leaves. It was just a matter of time until my thoughts turned to something sweet and this oversized squash was destined for dessert.
I have a great recipe for zucchini bread, but that makes me think of breakfast and I really wanted something to serve after dinner. When looking for inspiration I frequently grab one of my favorite books Dolce Italiano by the very talented Gina De Palma . Her desserts bring me right back to sitting in a cafe in Italy and if I can’t be there, I can certainly make believe. When I saw this cake using both zucchini and olive oil, I headed into the kitchen and got to work.
Gina’s recipe calls for a bundt pan and yields twelve servings. Since I was baking for a smaller audience, I cut the recipe in half and baked it in a 9″ cake pan. I’m giving you the recipe as printed in the book.
Zucchini-Olive Oil Cake With Lemon Crunch Glaze
For The Cake
1 cup walnut pieces
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
3 large eggs
1-3/4 cups granulated sugar
1 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2-1/2 cups grated zucchini
For The Lemon Crunch Glaze
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 cup confectioners’ sugar
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Position a rack in the center of the oven. Grease a 10″ bundt pan and then dust with flour to coat completely, tapping out the excess flour.
Place the walnuts in a single layer on a baking sheet and toast until they are brown, about 12 minutes. Cool the walnuts completely, then finely chop them in a food processor and set aside.
Sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and spices into a medium bowl and set aside. In an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the eggs, sugar and olive oil together on medium speed, until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes, then beat in the vanilla extract. Scrape down the sides of the bowl after each addition. Beat in the dry ingredients all at once on low speed until they are thoroughly combined, then turn to medium speed and mix for 30 seconds. Beat in the zucchini and walnuts on low speed until incorporated.
Pour the batter into the prepared pan, smoothing the top with a spatula. Bake the cake for 45-50 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through. The cake is done when a tester inserted in the center comes out clean and the cake has begun to pull away from the sides of the pan.
While the cake is baking, prepare the glaze. In a medium bowl whisk together the lemon juice and granulated sugar, then whisk in the confectioners’ sugar until completely smooth.
Allow the cake to cool in the pan for 10 minutes, the carefully invert it onto a wire rack. Using a pastry brush, immediately brush the glaze over the entire surface of the cake. Allow the cake to cool completely and for the glaze to dry.
The subtle tartness of the glaze was the perfect counterpoint to the spice of the cake. I think I’ll go and grab a piece of the leftovers to have with my morning cappuccino.