zucchini olive oil cake with lemon crunch glaze

September 6th, 2009 · 32 Comments

gina depalma would’ve been proud of my rendition. especially after my last fiasco. and mario batali would have happily served this at babbo with a scoop of their mascarpone gelato…

this cake was decided upon for a few reasons. but mainly it was the result of a "compromise". you see, the 13 year old, wanted chocolate. as in cake. or brownies. or perhaps a carrot cake. with cream cheese icing. and well, i didn’t. i wanted to make a galette. something rustic and simple with maybe some of the beautiful nectarines i’ve been seeing around. but she, the 13 year old, was so not interested. she was all like, "no thanks". so i seized the moment, approaching it as a learning opportunity and explained to her that seasonal mattered to me and that we could compromise. and when she looked at me quizically, i explained that a compromise basically would mean that neither one of us would get what we wanted… and she was all like "whatever", and went to watch the 12th season of the simpsons, now available on dvd.

and then while flipping through a few books i saw this. and it felt right. a perfect summer into fall cake. the tail end of the almost never ending zucchini, the brightness of lemon, along with the depth of toasted walnuts, cinnamon, ginger and clove – and olive oil – the clincher. i’m a big fan of cakes made with olive oil. the concept unleashes my inner italian-ness.

so i got right to it. and after the batter was prepared i called the 13 year old into the kitchen to lick the paddle, warning her it wouldn’t be your typical cakey/buttery/smooth batter – and she gave me the thumbs up. a good sign. but then i found myself looking down at the bowl and thinking, "there’s no way that this cake is going to set up", because the mixture appeared oddly thin. and yet through the nagic of HEAT, somehow after 45 minutes or so in the convection oven – suddenly i had perfection. and it was exactly as it should have been. and believe me when i tell you that no one is ever more surprised than i am when the cake turns out smashing… because the whole baking process ‘thing’ is always questionable around here. i’m not much of a baker, but i often bake very good things. and you know why? BECAUSE I CAREFULLY FOLLOW THE RECIPE. i know. imagine that…

but we’re talking bundt cake. and the glaze was nothing more than fresh lemon squeezed into sugar and whisked with a fork. so sure, this was easy as can be. but the final result was truly great. and the undeniable reason is merely the list of ingredients… thanks gina…

zucchini olive oil cake with lemon crunch glaze

dolce italiano – desserts from the babbo kitchen
gina depalma

1 cup walnut pieces
2 cups unbleached all purpose flour
1 teasppon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 teasppons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon grated nutmeg
3 large eggs
1 3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 cup GOOD extra virgin olive oil (i’m liking the ‘murray’s cheese’ oil a lot these days)
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups grated zucchini (about 2 medium zucchini)

for the glaze

1/4 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 cup confectioners sugar

preheat oven to 350 and position rack in the center.grease a bundt pan and then flour and tap out excess. you can also use that bakers spray that i always forget to buy.

place walnuts in a single layer and toast until golden brown and aromatic, 12-14 minutes. cool completely and finely chop in the food processor and set aside.

sift the flour baking soda, baking powder and salt and spices into a medium bowl. in an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment (have you seen these?), beat the eggs, sugar and olive oil until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes, then beat in the vanilla. scrape down the sides of the bowl after each addition (unless you have one of these). beat in the dry ingredients all at once until thoroughly combined, then switch to medium and beat 30 seconds. beat in the zucchini and walnuts on low speed until completely incorporated.

pour the batter into the pan and bake for 45 to 50 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through the baking time to ensure even browning. the cake is done when a tester inserted into the center comes out clean and the sides have begun to pull away from the pan.

when the cake is baking, prepare the glaze: in a medium bowl whisk together the lemon juice and granualted sugar, then whisk in the confectioner’s sugar until the glaze is completely smooth.

allow the cake to cool in the oan for 10 minutes then carefully invert onto a wire rack. using a pastry brush, immediately brush the glaze over the entire surface of the warm cake, using all of the glaze. it will adhere to the cake and set as the cake cools. allow the cake to cool completely and the glaze to dry completely.

transfer the cake to a stand or serving plate and if desired lightly dust with confectioners’ sugar. any leftover cake may be wrapped in plastic and served the following day.

oh and hey, i garnished with some chopped up basil. i had some and well, i must tell you that the addition of fresh herbs to olive oil cakes? a natural…

Tags: baking · dessert · vegetables

32 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Julia // Sep 7, 2009 at 5:48 am

    This does look great! I just wish I still had some zucchini in my garden to try this….Congrats on a baking success!

  • 2 maybelles mom // Sep 7, 2009 at 6:47 am

    i really need to learn how to follow baked goods recipes luckily J– and the babe are such sugar fiends they eat the failures too.

  • 3 Emily Walters // Sep 7, 2009 at 6:52 am

    I love this!

  • 4 Amy // Sep 7, 2009 at 7:26 am

    This looks heavenly. I have wanted to try to make an olive oil cake and I have a fridge and freezer full of zucchini. This just might be my recipe!

  • 5 Rebekka // Sep 7, 2009 at 8:09 am

    Lovely!!! This is so much like how I make my zucchini bread…with olive oil and lemon and walnuts. I can imagine it so perfectly as a cake, and the glaze sounds divine. The addition of basil…amazing.

  • 6 heather // Sep 7, 2009 at 8:29 am

    oooh does this sound tasty! i wish i had some fresh zucchini for this.



  • 7 Diana // Sep 7, 2009 at 12:22 pm

    Basil = genius move. Didn’t get much zuch this week, but enough for an excuse to make a cake. I have a lemon languishing on the counter that I need to use, some good olive oil in the pantry… yup, it’s time.

  • 8 Robert // Sep 7, 2009 at 12:45 pm


    Gramdma moans about the whole recipe thing………..But hey, if its workin for you.

    Not that there is any left, but would the kids eat it?

  • 9 claudia // Sep 7, 2009 at 12:52 pm

    robert – i just made a very french buttercream and without a seriously detailed recipe i’d have been in deep deep trouble… and elsa loved the finished product!

  • 10 Lesley // Sep 7, 2009 at 6:25 pm

    I have learned my lesson about following baking recipes…for the most part. This cake looks great, but I would have been tempted to put some lemon juice and extra ginger in it (and would have ruined it, I’m sure).

  • 11 lo // Sep 7, 2009 at 7:03 pm

    Love the look of that cake — and not just because olive oil cakes always seem to be so incredibly tasty… this one has great flavors going on. Isn’t it great when you can persuade a 13-yr old to try something new and wonderful? Truly the best compliment that she loved this cake…

  • 12 Lauren // Sep 7, 2009 at 7:06 pm


  • 13 denise (chez danisse) // Sep 7, 2009 at 7:46 pm

    I’m all over this!

  • 14 katiek @kitchensidecar // Sep 7, 2009 at 10:20 pm

    this so up my alley. i love moist quick breads.

    mario, gimme some!

  • 15 heidirobb // Sep 8, 2009 at 6:50 am

    Feels so good to have success in the baking kitchen.
    Love the basil.

  • 16 foodieatfifteen // Sep 8, 2009 at 8:39 am

    Had some awesome olive oil gelato a few weeks ago. I just love the thought of adding olive oil into desserts. The basil addition sounds great too.

    I’m writing you from homeroom and I’m wishing I had some in my lunch!

  • 17 nancy at goodfoodmatters // Sep 9, 2009 at 9:10 am

    aahhhh….a week for wonderful cakes…..thanks for sharing this recipe; I’ve been wanting to use olive oil in a sweet way—-this looks to be the perfect vehicle. love the seasonality of this dessert.

  • 18 Brooke // Sep 9, 2009 at 4:06 pm

    It really does help to follow the recipe when baking. It’s all science-y and stuff. At least that’s what we told ourselves in culinary school when we pastry people had to weigh everything accurately, and the food side got to just dump ingredients into a saute pan.

    This cake looks really good. I’m gonna try it.

  • 19 Kristie // Sep 10, 2009 at 7:14 am

    Of course they make a cake out of olive oil at Babbo…of course. Looks good, even though I think zucchini are mutant freak-veggies. And the glaze…beautiful.

  • 20 Becky and the Beanstock // Sep 10, 2009 at 7:57 am

    I know you have a lot of performance anxiety over baking (me too) and yet your baked goods — the ones you choose to show us, anyhow — always look amazing. LOVE olive oil in baked goods (lemon olive oil thyme cookies — yum!). I’m so excited about summer-into-fall food — so ready for cooler weather and warmer food!

    And, yeah. Long live the Simpsons!

  • 21 Mary // Sep 10, 2009 at 9:33 pm

    Cake!!! Gimme that cake!!!

  • 22 vicky, NYC // Sep 11, 2009 at 5:28 pm

    my goodness. that cake looks heavenly. i like everything about it which means i need to go buy some zucchini tomorrow at the market. my family thanks you! i may try it with ww pastry flour.

  • 23 chefectomy // Sep 12, 2009 at 11:42 am

    Don’t mess with a 13 year old…nice compromise.


  • 24 yveala // Sep 12, 2009 at 7:34 pm

    wow, i’m loosing the glaze and this baby is replacing a kugel and joining us for rosh hoshana..think it freezes well?
    (you know jews need to freeze)

  • 25 claudia (cook eat FRET) // Sep 12, 2009 at 7:39 pm

    yve – the glaze is GOOD. but even without it, it’s cakey not side dishey…

  • 26 Meg // Sep 12, 2009 at 9:09 pm

    Now this is the way to sneak some extra veggies in! What a great cake.

  • 27 Jen @ MaplenCornbread // Sep 13, 2009 at 1:57 pm

    This sounds amazing!!!! I love the CRUNCH glaze! mmmm

  • 28 Bren // Sep 15, 2009 at 9:17 pm

    crunch cake is right up my alley and mood! loooove it. get it girl. nice looking cake. trip is postponed, by the way. Spring. will email you. :)

  • 29 Mara // Sep 22, 2009 at 11:48 am

    what an interesting flavor combination! I will have to give this one a whirl. Thanks!

  • 30 mindy M // Sep 22, 2009 at 7:03 pm

    This is a great idea for a fantastic cake. I’m definitely going to give it a try. I think it’ll go over with a bang!

  • 31 Charles // Apr 26, 2010 at 8:34 pm

    Of course they make a cake out of olive oil at Babbo…of course. Looks good, even though I think zucchini are mutant freak-veggies. And the glaze…beautiful.

  • 32 C // Jun 4, 2010 at 7:37 pm

    I have always used olive oil in my cakes and recently found that canola oil is much less expensive…so I bought it… to my dismay, it isn’t even close to the quality of using olive oil. I never knew what a difference I was making by using the EVolive oil.

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