Recipe: Spicy Chocolate and Zucchini Cake

I can see you all looking at me rather oddly at this point, but zucchini cake is actually surprisingly good.  My Oma used to make one with nuts in it, which in fact I didn’t like, but that wasn’t the fault of the zucchini (I still detest walnuts).  Anyway, it isn’t something I make very often, but I accidentally ignored my zucchini patch for a week and when I went and had a look at it on Saturday, I found this:

Astonishingly, my zucchini plant had a zucchini on it…

Or, to be more precise, this:

Imperial marrow! (and yes, that really is to scale).

As the zucchini afficionados among you will be aware, zucchinis are not really at their best once they start getting big enough to be used as blunt instruments.  They get all mealy and lose what little flavour they had to start with.  There are basically two uses for them at that point – you can brandish them at people and make them giggle (this works surprisingly consistently), or you can grate them and make them into cakes, quickbreads, or muffins.

Today, I did both.  But I haven’t provided the recipe for the brandishing part, because I’m fairly sure you can figure that part out on your own.  Dirty jokes are optional (giant zucchinis are pretty inherently amusing even without a gutter mind, I find).  This recipe is adapted from one I found in an Australian Women’s Weekly recipe book, but it’s personality has changed a bit in the meantime, partly intentionally and partly because I was rather tired and forgot to add some ingredients and then added a whole bunch of others that I could have sworn were listed but in fact were not.  My version makes two very large loaf cakes, because I had a lot of zucchini, so you might want to divide this by 1/3 and make one medium loaf.  It all depends how out of hand your zucchinis are getting, really…

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270 g unsalted butter, softened
grated zest of one large orange
3 cups raw caster sugar, or half caster, half brown sugar
6 eggs
3 3/4 cups self raising flour
3/4 cups cocoa powder
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 1/2 tsp ginger
1 tsp cardamom
pinch nutmeg
3-4 cups grated zucchini
200 g dark chocolate, chopped

Now what will you do with it?

Line two large or 3 medium loaf tins with baking paper, and preheat the oven to 180°C.

Beat together butter, zest and sugar with a fork until well-combined.  Allegedly one should cream them, but I am far too lazy to bother.   Add eggs two by two, like the animals in the ark only with less flooding, unless you are in Melbourne, in which case you are probably feeling by now that Noah might have been onto something, especially if his ark didn’t have a skylight.

Once you’ve beaten in the eggs, add the zucchini, spices, cocoa and flour.  Mix well, then stir in the chopped dark chocolate.  Divide between your tins and bake for 45 minutes to an hour, until a skewer comes out clean when you insert it into the cake.

The original recipe suggests icing the cake with orange icing, but we still have a house full of Christmas goodies, so I’m leaving it plain.  Besides, this cake *obviously* deserves chocolate icing if it’s going to have any icing at all.


Making this dairy free is just a matter of substituting in nuttelex for butter, especially since I completely forgot to add milk to the recipe anyway.  Egg-free would be trickier, because there is a fair bit of egg here, and I think it’s holding the cake together rather.  I think I’d probably use a couple of flaxseed eggs, plus 1 cup of soy yoghurt and a teaspoon or two of baking powder, but I make no promises.  If you are just avoiding eggs and not dairy, I suspect dairy yoghurt would work better here.

I’m not sure about making this gluten-free, but something tells me that substituting in 1-2 cups of almond meal for flour would work really well here, taste and texture-wise.  Maybe use a gluten-free baking flour for the rest, remembering that if it is not self-raising, you will need to add a couple of teaspoons of baking powder per cup of plain flour?  I’m pretty sure that making this cake gluten-free would also magically make it low fructose, which is a bonus.

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7 comments for “Recipe: Spicy Chocolate and Zucchini Cake

  1. filkferengi
    December 28, 2011 at 1:24 am


  2. December 29, 2011 at 8:57 pm

    I love using vegetables in cakes and sweet things, so as long as I close my eyes and pretend I didn’t read the part about orange zest, I am alllll in for this! 😛

    • December 30, 2011 at 11:02 pm

      Are you anti-orangey things entirely, or is it just the context?

  3. Lirion
    December 31, 2011 at 8:59 am

    I just shared this with someone else who’s zucchinis had gotten out of control. He seems eager to try it, a win for all!

    • December 31, 2011 at 6:46 pm

      It freezes quite well, too, and everyone seems to like it.

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