Friday, March 18, 2011

warming trend









































I apologize for the radio silence here. I'm not really sure where the first two weeks of March went, but here we are, the middle of the month with spring very near. The weather is finally warming, reminding us that the long days of summer are ahead.

This week as I was putting away groceries, I made a chance discovery in the freezer. Hidden away in the corner were two forgotten bags of fresh, shredded zucchini. Pulling them out of the freezer I had flashbacks to August when I helped my Dad pull zucchinis as big as my arms from the garden. And after a whole summer spent sauteing, baking, and slicing the stuff, we needed a new way to utilize all of the zucchini. We decided to shred what we'd picked and after dividing most of it into freezer bags, we made this cake. It is a favorite in our house. It's perfect anytime of the day, with breakfast, lunch, or dinner and can be thrown together in a moment's notice. Baking this cake on an unseasonably warm March afternoon, I couldn't help but be swept up with spring fever.

There are many great days ahead. Happy weekend to you all.

Zucchini Cake with Crunchy Lemon Glaze
Serves 12-16
Adapted from Dolce Italiano: Desserts from the Babbo Kitchen by Gina DePalma via David Lebovitz

For the cake:
1 cup (135g) almonds, pecans, or walnuts, toasted
2 cups (280g) flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon kosher or sea salt
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon dried ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
3 large eggs, at room temperature
1 3/4 (350g) cups sugar
1 cup (250ml) extra-virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
zest of one lemon
2 1/2 cups (300g) finely grated zucchini*

For the lemon glaze:
1/4 cup (60ml) freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/3 cup (65g) granulated sugar
1 cup (140g) powdered (confectioner’s) sugar

1. Preheat the oven to 350ºF (180ºC). Grease a 10 cup (2.5l) bundt or tube cake pan** with non-stick spray or butter, dust with flour, then tap out any excess.

2. Pulse the nuts in a food processor until finely chopped.

3. In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg. Set aside.

4. In the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, beat the eggs, 1 3/4 cup (350g) sugar, and olive oil for 3 minutes on medium speed, until light and fluffy. Stop and scrape down the sides of the mixer, then add the lemon zest and vanilla.

5. Mix in the dry ingredients, scraping down the sides of the mixer bowl to make sure everything is mixed in well, then beat on medium speed for 30 seconds.

6. Stir in the chopped nuts and zucchini.

7. Scrape the batter into the prepared cake pan, smooth the top, then bake the cake for 45 to 50 minutes, until the toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean and the cake has begun to pull away from the sides of the pan.

8. During the last few minutes of the cake baking, make the glaze by whisking together the lemon juice, 1/3 cup (65g) granulated sugar, and powdered sugar.

9. Let the cake cool for 10 minutes, then carefully invert it onto a cooling rack.*** Brush the glaze over the cake with a pastry brush and let the cake cool completely.

Storage: The cake can be wrapped (or put under a cake dome) and will keep for a few days. You can freeze the unglazed cake. However to apply the glaze, you’ll need to defrost the cake then warm it so the glaze will adhere properly.

*I recommend using the fine grating disk for a food processor to shred your zucchini. You can also grate the zucchini by hand, use the fine holes on a box grater.

**If you don’t have a bundt or tube pan, you can make the cake in a regular round cake pan.

***The best way to invert the cake is to lay the cooling rack over the top of the cake pan, then grasping both the cake pan and the rack simultaneously (if it’s too hot, wear oven mitts), flip them both over at once. Lift off the cake pan, then liberally brush the glaze over the warm cake.

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