Sunday, June 29, 2014

Zucchini Cake with Honey Cream Cheese Frosting

Frosted Zucchini Cake Floating on White Plate
Squash Never Looked So Good

Recipe by Leslie and Robin

Anyone who has grown zucchini knows the agony and the ecstasy of a bountiful harvest. Even when planted near other squash or in a square foot garden, zucchini tends to entangle the entire area. It crowds out all other plants. Tiny zucchini hide beneath large leaves and become huge monsters in no time. That’s why this recipe was written. My beloved ex-roommate Leslie perfected it throughout two growing seasons—a number of decades ago—when our garden zukes were going crazy. I’ve enhanced the honey flavor by adding a bit of salt and sugar. The cake is extremely moist, without using a lot of oil. Maxing out the zucchini content does the moisture magic.

Cream Cheese, Butter, and Honey with Spatula
Easy Elegant Frosting
You may use any nuts that you prefer. I use almonds because although they’re as high in fat as walnuts and (almost as) pecans, they contain many times more protein. My natural foods store considers them a “Peak (nutritional) Food.” Leslie originally used corn oil, but because of the prevalence of genetically modified (GMO) corn as well as the flavor, I prefer walnut oil. Walnut oil is light is consistently delicious in baked goods. You may substitute any light oil that you like.

This cake is perfectly complete and delicious without the frosting. However, Leslie’s cream cheese frosting, with just a touch of honey for flavoring, adds savory contrast to the cake’s sweetness. I’ve seen more than one person—including those who claim not to like cream cheese—save the frosting bites for last. Of course, frosting adds a festive touch for birthdays, garden parties, potlucks, and other celebratory occasions. Now that we’re officially in summer here in the Northern Hemisphere, we’ll be entering the endless zucchini phase soon. I hope you’ll enjoy this recipe throughout the season. Happy Summer!

Slice Cut From Zucchini Cake
Slice of Heaven
Zucchini Cake with Honey Cream Cheese Frosting
serves 12 – 16

~ 1 ½ lbs. zucchini
3 cups whole wheat pastry or unbleached flour
½ cup sugar
2 tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. baking soda
1½ tsp. cinnamon
½ tsp. salt
1 cup chopped almonds
4 eggs
½ cup walnut oil
¾ cup honey
2 tsp. vanilla extract
12 oz. soft cream cheese
2 tbsp. butter, softened
1½ tbsp. butter

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour a 10-inch tube pan. Set aside.

Grate zucchini. Measure out 3 cups moderately packed. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt. Stir in chopped nuts. Set aside.

In another medium bowl, beat eggs until light. Beat in oil, ¾ cup honey, and vanilla.

If there is liquid in the zucchini, squeeze it out. Add zucchini to egg mixture, stirring to distribute evenly.

Pour dry ingredients into wet ingredients and stir gently with wooden spoon until mixture is consistent. Don’t beat.

Turn batter into greased and floured tube pan. Bake at 350 degrees F for about 60 – 65 minutes. Cake is done when toothpick or cake tester comes out clean.

Remove cake from oven and let cool in the pan on a rack. You may remove the outside of the tube pan when the cake is warm to facilitate cooling.

When cool, run knife between the bottom cake surface and the pan to loosen it. Flip cake onto serving platter. Brush off loose crumbs before frosting.

It’s easiest to frost cake if ingredients are at room temperature. Beat together cream cheese, softened butter, and 1½ tbsp. honey. Spread onto cool cake with small spatula. Allow frosting to set for an hour or two if possible. Frosting will bond better to the cake if you wait before serving it.

Basket Filled with Assorted Summer Squashes
Substitute Any Summer Squash for Zucchini in this Cake

Slice of Zucchini Cake on Plate with Fork
Celebrating Summer

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