zucchini bread

© Nick Loven
© Lydia, punge.blogspot.co.uk

We've had a glut of courgettes (zucchini) at the allotment for the past month or so, and it's not stopping! Luckily, my all-time-favourite, absolute go-to recipe, is the courgette cake, based on a zucchini bread recipe I made 6 years ago for a thanksgiving pot-luck party at my postgrad (and thus largely international) halls of residence. I fell in love with the recipe as soon as I read it, having never heard of using vegetable matter in a cake, let alone something green. What I love about this recipe is how versatile it is - it's very very moist and comes out with a gorgeous crystallised crust, making it suitable for serving it in it's original, sans frosting form, yet has enough richness in flavour and isn't too sweet, meaning that frosting does work incredibly well with it, if that is what you should desire. And it frequently is what I desire. It also quite solid and stands up to weight well, meaning it can be used as a tier in a wedding cake, and the crust doesn't crumble too easily, meaning it can stand to be dressed up either with buttercream alone, or with fondant too. It's also perfect dressed up less formally, like here.

I've only ever tried this cake with white chocolate buttercream as it's frosting - it was the first one I made and I fell in love with it immediately, and it's been the most requested combination by friends and family ever since. I have a feeling it would also work incredibly well with orange buttercream if you find this just too sweet, and of course a cream cheese frosting would pair nicely too, given the courgette cake's proximity in flavour to a carrot cake.

© Nick Loven
© Lydia, punge.blogspot.co.uk
Lydia's Zucchini Bread/Cake
Cake Batter
3 eggs
235ml (1 cup) vegetable oil
400g (1¾ cups) caster sugar
2tsp vanilla extract
225g grated zucchini (8 oz, about 1 large zucchini)
60g (¹/3 to ½ cup) raisins
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
4 tsp cinnamon
375g (2½ cups) plain flour, of which 150g (1 cup) to be wholemeal, if possible

White Chocolate Buttercream
200g (7oz) white chocolate
280g (10 oz) unsalted butter
420g icing (2 ¹/3 cup confectioner's) sugar
4tsp vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 160°C (electric/fan, 180°C gas, gas mark 4, 320-350°F).
Line three 8 inch sandwich tins with baking parchment, or coat with butter/oil and flour if they are springform tins.

Beat the eggs until light and fluffy.
Add the oil, sugar, vanilla extract, zucchini and raisins, and stir until combined.
Fold in the flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda and cinnamon.

Divide the mixture between the three pans and bake for 40-45 minutes, until the centre is firm.
Cool in the tins for 5-10 minutes before turning out onto wire racks to complete cooling.

For the frosting, melt the chocolate in a bain marie / double boiler (or melt in a bowl above simmering water, being careful not to allow the bottom of the bowl to touch the water). Set aside to cool to body temperature.

Beat the butter and the sugar until light and fluffy, then beat in the vanilla extract and cooled chocolate. 

Assemble the cake by sandwiching the layers together, and topping off, with buttercream. If you want a smooth, totally covered cake, then create a crumb coating on the cake by smoothing the buttercream onto the outside in a thin layer. Refrigerate for 30 minutes before repeating with the final layer of buttercream (either smoothed on with a palette knife or piped on for texture). This two-stage icing process will ensure that no crumbs make it into the visible layers of frosting, giving you a perfect finish. The cake can now be topped off with your choice of decoration, fresh soft fruits help to cut through the sweetness, but in the past I've also gone on to cover this cake with a layer of fondant and made it a bottom tier of wedding and birthday cakes. Either way, I guarantee it won't last long!

© Nick Loven
© Lydia, punge.blogspot.co.uk

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