Olive Oil Zucchini Nut Cake with Lemon Glaze

When I worked at Magnolia Bakery, my favorite cakes included the Hummingbird and Carrot Cake. (If you’re going there for cupcakes, you should opt for cake. Just my advice. Take it.) In case you’re not familiar with the Southern-origin Hummingbird Cake, it is a banana cake with pieces of pineapple and a cream cheese frosting. For one, both of these cakes have a great variety in texture from nuts, fruits, coconut, etc; two, they’re not overwhelmingly sweet; and three, they somehow get moister over time!?!?? YES. I actually preferred them old. Like Richard Gere. Or Chinese food. Reminiscing on those cakes, I decided to make this zucchini based dessert, which is..healthy? Almost. Ish. My friend at work ate this for breakfast. But we have also eaten chocolate truffles at 10AM.

The glaze has a fine crunch from the use of granulated sugar, and the olive oil/zucchini lend the cake it’s moistness in the place of butter. I personally love the tang of the lemon, despite my ambivalence towards lemons in general, but feel free to turn this into a carrot-cake wanna-be with a cream cheese frosting—throw in some raisins and coconut as well. Overall, a tame, tangy, tasty cake.

Olive Oil Zucchini Nut Cake with Lemon Glaze 

Adapted from Gina DePalma’s recipe, from Babbo in NYC

I dont own a bundt cake, so I divided the batter into one loaf cake and one square cake. The time was about halved, so check on it if you go that route.



The Cake:

1 cup (135g) almonds, pecans, or walnuts, toasted (I used pecans)
2 cups (280g) flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon sea salt
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon dried ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
Zest from one lemon
3 large eggs, at room temperature
1 3/4 (350g) cups sugar
1 cup (250ml) extra-virgin olive oil (I used non E-V)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups (300g) finely grated zucchini (used the fine holes on a box grater)

For the lemon glaze:

1/4 cup (60ml) freshly squeezed lemon juice (roughly one large lemon)
1/3 cup (65g) granulated sugar
1 cup (140g) powdered (confectioner’s) sugar
1 Tbsp olive oil

1. Preheat the oven to 350ºF (180ºC). Grease a 10 cup (2.5l) bundt or tube cake pan* with non-stick spray.

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

3. In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baki     ng 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 vanilla and lemon zest.


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.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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.