Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Zucchini Walnut Cake

I have found one more great zucchini recipe - this one actually came from our local paper, the Tribune. It was a pleasant surprise....in general I don't have the highest opinion of this newspaper, although we continue to get it, because I like to know what is going on around here. I just often find things in there that make me wonder about the editors, and make me dislike spellcheck, and our dependence on it. On Sunday, there was an article about the abundance of critters in our local tidepools with the headline "Tidepools Teaming With Life". Ouch. And about a month ago, for example, a headline on the second page read "Opera to get Award" (I am not making this up!!). When I started reading the article, I quickly realized that Oprah Winfrey was getting the award, not an opera. That seems like the kind of thing that should be caught and fixed before it goes to print. Otherwise it makes snobby people like me think that the nice people at the paper are really, really dumb. And that might not be true.
Anyway, every summer the food section will print a few zucchini recipes - because using up the squash from the garden is apparently a state-wide pursuit ; and since our garden provides us with both zucchini and walnuts (it calls for pecans, but I have a walnut tree, so I always use walnuts), I decided to try it out (once again, baking it early in the morning to avoid heating up our tiny house in the summer!). It is delicious! Actually, I've decided that cream cheese frosting can make many things delicious, and it's on this cake, which is an added bonus.
Note the glass of wine behind the cake in the photo. Wine is not part of the recipe, but I had just purchased a bottle and was trying it out (it's not very good - I suppose that's what happens when you get wine because the label has a cute picture of an old truck on it. But it's okay, now we have some cooking wine and a lovely bottle as well).

Recipe: Zucchini-pecan cake with cinnamon cream cheese frosting

Adapted from Bon Appetit, August 2010

Nonstick vegetable oil spray

1½ cups all-purpose flour

1½ teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon coarse kosher salt

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

½ teaspoon ground ginger

¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg

¾ cup olive oil (not extra-virgin)

1 cup (packed) golden brown sugar

3 large eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1½ cups coarsely grated zucchini (about 8 ounces)

¾ cup chopped pecans (more for garnish, if desired)

For the frosting:

4 ounces cream cheese (do not use reduced-fat or fat-free), room temperature

3 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature

¾ cup powdered sugar

½ teaspoon vanilla extract

½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

1. Preheat your oven to 350°F. Line a 9-inch round cake pan with parchment paper, and coat it with nonstick cooking spray.

2. In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg until well combined. In a large bowl, whisk together the oil, sugar, eggs and vanilla, then fold in flour the mixture. Stir in the grated zucchini and pecans, and pour the batter into the prepared pan.

3. Bake until a cake tester inserted into center comes out clean — the original recipe said this would take about 45 minutes, but my cake was done after 35 minutes, so keep an eye on it. Once the cake is done, let it cool completely in the pan on a rack. When it’s cool, turn the cake out onto a platter and carefully peel off the parchment paper.

4. To make the frosting, beat the cream cheese and butter in the bowl of a stand mixer until smooth. Add the sugar, vanilla and cinnamon, and mix until combined. Slather the frosting on the cake, and top with toasted pecans, if desired.

I will absolutely be making this one again.....after the heat wave is over.

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