Zucchini- Pecan Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting
Everyone I know keeps trying to give me zucchini.
My friends. My co-workers. My mom. I imagine that if I got out more, I might even be offered zucchini by total strangers. Because for some reason, everyone who has a zucchini garden (and that’s about every third person I talk to) suddenly has more zucchini than they know what to do with.
Are zucchinis, like, the Gremlins of the plant kingdom? You water them, and they spawn a bazillion others? Is that what’s going on here? What is with all this zucchini?
I’ve declined several generous offers of this ridiculously prolific summer squash on account of the fact that I don’t ever really eat any vegetables, which has probably occurred to you if you read this blog with any regularity.
But the other day I picked up the August issue of Bon Appétit and saw a spread on recipes that incorporate summer veggies. A few of those recipes were for zucchini. And one of those zucchini recipes was a cake.
Now, I realize zucchini cake doesn’t sound all that enticing, especially to people who, like me, think having lettuce on a cheeseburger once in a while satisfies the USDA’s dietary guidelines for good health.
But this cake is really just carrot cake minus the carrots, and plus zucchini. And that equals DELICIOUS.
It’s also not completely unhealthy! Besides zucchini and pecans — health food! — the recipe uses olive oil instead of butter. It also calls for brown sugar instead of white, and though I’m unable to back this up with any scientifically sound evidence, I’m pretty sure brown sugar is good for you. You know, like how brown bread is more nutritious than white bread. Same rules totally apply.
Anyway. My co-workers (the ones brave enough to try it, anyway) gobbled the cake up. Two of them came back for seconds. Another, after devouring his slice in record time, deemed the cake “exquisite.” (I’m sure he was at least partially serious.) So if you can persuade people to try it, they’ll like it.
Oh, and guess what? I had to go to the grocery store to buy zucchini for this cake. How’s that for irony.
- Nonstick vegetable oil spray
- 1½ cups all-purpose flour
- 1½ teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon coarse kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon ground ginger
- ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- ¾ cup olive oil (not extra-virgin)
- 1 cup (packed) golden brown sugar
- 3 large eggs
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1½ cups coarsely grated zucchini (about 8 ounces)
- ¾ cup chopped pecans (more for garnish, if desired)
For the frosting:
- 4 ounces cream cheese (do not use reduced-fat or fat-free), room temperature
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
- ¾ cup powdered sugar
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- Preheat your oven to 350°F. Line a 9-inch round cake pan with parchment paper, and coat it with nonstick cooking spray.
- In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg until well combined. In a large bowl, whisk together the oil, sugar, eggs and vanilla, then fold in flour the mixture. Stir in the grated zucchini and pecans, and pour the batter into the prepared pan.
- Bake until a cake tester inserted into center comes out clean — the original recipe said this would take about 45 minutes, but my cake was done after 35 minutes, so keep an eye on it. Once the cake is done, let it cool completely in the pan on a rack. When it’s cool, turn the cake out onto a platter and carefully peel off the parchment paper.
- To make the frosting, beat the cream cheese and butter in the bowl of a stand mixer until smooth. Add the sugar, vanilla and cinnamon, and mix until combined. Slather the frosting on the cake, and top with toasted pecans, if desired.