Sitting at the beach on Labor Day, I am pondering summer’s end. I don’t like the heat of summer, nor do I enjoy sitting in the sun. What I love about summer, as I’ve told you over and over again, are the local fresh fruits and vegetables that are available from June until September. Now, some may complain that they are getting tired of all of the zucchini and tomatoes that take over the farmer’s markets in July and August. But I’m still searching for ideas on how to incorporate these gems of summer into my repertoire….including desert.
Many of you have your own recipe for zucchini bread or have a neighbor that pawns it off on you this time of year. What I love about this zucchini cake is that is a lighter, more sophisticated cousin of zucchini bread. Topped with lightly sweetened whipped cream, it makes a perfect ending to an early September dinner party. Toasted the next morning, nothing could go better with a cup of latte. I found Pichet Ong’s recipe a few years ago in a magazine, and only had to tweak the recipe a bit. I added cardamon to the cinnamon and nutmeg, which adds light spice, but not as heavy as those wintery spice cakes that will make an appearance in just a few short months. I cut down on a step or two….as I think its always best to keep things simple when baking a cake.
Zucchini Cake (adapted from New York Magazine)
1/2 cup (1 stick) plus 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, room temperature
1/4 cup demerara sugar (you can also use “sugar in the raw” type of brown, granulated sugar)
4 cups zucchini, about 2 large, finely grated
2 1/2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 cup brown sugar, packed
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon cardamon, depending upon how much you like the flavor of cardamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 large eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 cup olive oil, use a light olive oil, not an extra virgin; alternatively, you can use canola oil
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a 10-inch springform pan with parchment and grease with 1 tablespoon of softened butter. Add 1/4 demerara sugar and turn pan until bottom and sides are coated.
Place the sugar-coated pan in the refrigerator while preparing the cake.
Place freshly grated zucchini on paper towels to drain (about 15 minutes should do the trick). While zucchini is draining, sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
In a large mixing bowl on medium-high speed, cream butter, white and brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cardamon until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. On low speed add flour mixture just until combined. Then add zucchini, mixing on low speed.
Whisk together eggs and oil, then mix in until just combined.
Pour into prepared pan, smoothing top if necessary.
Bake 45-55 minutes….a toothpick inserted in center should come out clean. Remove from oven and cool on a rack for 10 minutes. Carefully run a sharp knife around pan then remove sides to finish cooling.
To serve, dust cake with powdered sugar.
This cake is delicious on its own and even better with a dollop of lightly sweetened whipped cream. Cake lasts several days at room temperature covered with a cake dome or wrapped in plastic.