The Great Zucchini

Think of it as a versatile, delicious little black dress.

Only it’s very dark brown instead of black, and it’s not a dress, but a cake.  But otherwise…

This is week three of dispatches from my adventures when I joined Lisa Prince and WRAL’s Brian Shrader as they prepared and filmed four recipes for Local Dish, WRAL’s cooking segment that airs each Friday on the noon news.

This week’s chocolate cake, y’all.

In keeping with the summer produce theme, this is a zucchini cake.  And there are two really important things that I need you, Gentle Reader, to take from this essay.

The first is the importance of cooking time.  There is a little butter and four eggs in this cake, but no other fat.  So, most of the moisture comes from the grated zucchini and the applesauce in the recipe.    

Which means, if you overcook it, you will get a dry result that will stick in your throat and make you sad.  It cooks for 60-70 minutes, but you should start checking it at 55 minutes.  As soon as a toothpick comes out clean but moist, get it out of the oven.  And after it’s been out for 10 minutes, get it out of that pan.

The second thing is, once it’s cool you can top it with anything from powdered sugar to a decadent vanilla fudge icing topped with crushed Oreos.  You can go simple and use whipped cream or a couple scoops of vanilla ice cream.  Or let the ice cream melt.  It then becomes a fancy custard sauce called crème Anglaise.  Set the cake on a puddle of that (for crème Anglaise use an ice cream containing only milk, cream, eggs, sugar, vanilla, and maybe a pinch of salt).

Here are two of my favorite toppings.

Mama Cat’s Vanilla Fudge Icing

½ cup butter

1 cup granulated sugar

¼ cup milk

Heat ingredients in saucepan until it begins to boil.  Let cool slightly and mix in 1& 3/4 -2 cups sifted powdered sugar, and 2 teaspoons vanilla.

Pour over fully cooled cake and top with crushed Oreos (optional) or anything else you’d like.

Mom’s Fudge Glaze

6 tablespoons butter

4 tablespoons cocoa

3 cups powdered sugar

6 tablespoons milk

2 teaspoons vanilla

In saucepan, melt butter.  Stir in cocoa until dissolved.  Mix in sugar.  Add milk and vanilla; whisk until smooth. 

Pour over cooled cake and allow to set.

The cake calls for cinnamon, but you could also tweak it with things like cayenne or espresso powder.

 Chocolate Zucchini Bundt Cake  

2 ¼ cups all-purpose flour

¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder

2 ½ tsp. baking powder

1 ½ tsp. baking soda

1 tsp. salt

1 tsp. ground cinnamon

1 cup sugar

½ cup butter, room temperature

4 eggs

¾ cup unsweetened applesauce

1 Tbsp. vanilla

2 cups shredded zucchini

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Generously coat bottom and sides of 9 to 12 cup Bundt pan with cooking spray.

Mix flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon in bowl.  Set aside. Beat sugar and butter with mixer until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs, one at a time, applesauce then vanilla.

Reduce mixer to low. Beat in dry ingredients until blended. Fold in zucchini.

Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake for 60-70 minutes or until done. Cool on wire rack 10 minutes.  Remove from pan and allow to cool completely before topping.

This cake also travels really well for picnics and potlucks; or wrap a slice and tuck it into a bagged lunch.  With both zucchini and apple sauce in it, you could almost call it healthy with a straight face.

Thanks for your time.

Contact debbie at d@bullcity.mom.

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