Zucchini Cake with Cream Cheese Icing
I am not sure of the origin of adding vegetables when baking sweet treats, but it probably stems from early colonial days when sugar was sparse and a luxury. The ingenuity of survival turned to using corn, squash, potatoes and carrots as a method to add texture and sweetness to pies, cakes and cookies. Thankfully our foraging only has to lead us to our local farmer's market to find the produce that helps us create delightful sweet treats. Today I am using zucchini to make cake.
I have served these two cakes to the most finicky eaters who claim they don't like zucchini; will not eat anything green, especially in a cake. But these cakes disappear like magic. The basic recipe will be familiar to those who enjoy carrot cake. Not a big stretch. You are replacing carrots with zucchini; using the same spices in the cake batter; and adding a cream cheese frosting. People who like carrot cake will enjoy this cake. It may even be more moist than a carrot cake due to the nature of zucchini.
I, for some reason, really had a notion to make a chocolate zucchini cake. I used this same recipe, but added a 1/2 cup of cocoa to the dry ingredients*. What a great disguise for zucchini. The chocolate color camouflaged the green zucchini, not that it needs to be hidden. But it stands out as a surprise ingredient when people learn of it. The recipe also uses cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg, which compliment the chocolate. The cinnamon lends towards thoughts of a Mexican chocolate dessert. I even add a pinch of cinnamon to the chocolate buttercream frosting to complete the cake.
The zucchini cake is made in a single 9-inch cake pan, and not a double layer cake. It's a humble, homestyle cake that can be served as an afternoon snack or after dinner as dessert.
Zucchini Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
3/4 cup canola oil
1 cup light brown sugar - packed
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups grated zucchini
1/2 cup currants
3/4 cup chopped walnuts
Position oven rack in center of the oven; preheat to 350 degrees. Line a 9-inch cake pan with 2-inch high sides with parchment paper; coat the parchment and the sides of the pan with nonstick oil spray.
Working with a large bowl, add the flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg to the bowl; whisk to combine. Set aside. Working with a mixing bowl, add the oil and brown sugar, with your mixer on low speed, combine. Add in the eggs one at a time, to incorporate into the oil/sugar mixture. Stir in the vanilla. Turn off the mixer, add the flour mixture to the egg mixture, stir to combine. Add in 2 cups of zucchini, combine well. Fold in the currants and walnuts. Transfer the cake batter to the prepared pan.
Bake in the center of the oven for 40 minutes. Cool completely in the pan on a baking rack. Turn out the cake; peel off the parchment paper. Frost as desired.
*for a chocolate zucchini cake, add 1/2 cup cocoa to the dry ingredients; mix to combine.
Cream Cheese Frosting
4 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
3/4 cup powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Working with a mixing bowl, add the softened cream cheese and butter to the bowl; stir to combine. Add in the sugar, vanilla and cinnamon, stir to combine well.