I am sure that by now, if you don't have a garden of your own, your neighbours are stealing into your yard in the wee hours of the morning and leaving care packages of zucchini on your porch. August 8th is a day designated especially for this purpose being "Sneak Some Zucchini Onto Your Neighbours Porch Day." Or perhaps you are covertly picking the locks of your neighbours cars and leaving them in their baby car seats. This prolific vegetable deserves such special treatment. If this sounds all too true you have hit the mother load!!!People seem to have a love/hate relationship with this prolific summer squash. I am a lover of zucchini so am always looking for new ways to highlight it's delicate flavour.
This squash truly shines by mid-summer. As a home cook, I'm partial to the sweet, young version, whose delicate, creamy flesh lends itself well to both raw and cooked dishes. I avoid the large, mature zucchinis that haunt the stalls at many markets in late summer which have waterlogged, fibrous bodies and bitter seeds.
You know it had to happen when being overrun with copious amounts of zucchini that a cake would have to be in the line-up. If you are going to celebrate then your neighbours might not be upset if you leave this moist and delicious cake on their porch instead.
I have seen this recipe all over the blogosphere from Dolce Italiano by Gina De Palma. It lived up to all my expectations although it would be equally delicious without the lemon glaze. In warm-weather Mediterranean countries where olives grow, and where butter spoils quickly, sweets are more likely to be made with age-old olive oil. In Italy, bakers add olive oil to everything from biscotti to apple cakes. In Spain and Morocco, the zesty character of orange semolina cake is enhanced with fruity-flavoured olive oil. The tender, crumbly Greek cookies kourambiedes, too, are made with olive oil. Oil will tenderize your cake batter and help keep it moist. So it is often used in fruity, dense quick breads and muffins that are leavened with baking powder and baking soda. The trick is keeping mixing to a minimum to prevent developing tough strands of gluten.
Whenever I post a recipe for olive oil cake there is always someone who will comment that they feel the olive oil would over power the flavour of the cake. I assure you that if you use a good quality virgin olive oil the light, fruity flavour will only compliment your cake and create a delicate crumb that can not be compared.
After my successes with olive oil cakes made with blood oranges,clementines, Meyer lemon and poppy seed, banana and pumpkin I thought that the next innovative idea would be zucchini. You can recreate this showstopping, and yet simple cake, to win rave reviews of your own. In this cake recipe Gina uses a bundt pan to bake her cake, but, I wanted to share with L'il Burnt Toast this weekend and used 2 loaf pans instead. Adjust your cooking times accordingly to the type of pan you are using. The easiest way to do this is to to start checking your cakes doneness with the insertion of a toothpick at about the 35 minute mark. When the toothpick comes out clean it is time to allow your treasure to cool and serve to the special people in your life. What will you be doing with the zucchini left on your door step?
Zucchini Olive Oil Cake
**Zucchini-Olive Oil Cake with
Lemon Crunch Glaze**
(recipe adapted from Dolce Italiano by Gina DePalma)CAKE
1 cup walnut pieces
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
3 large eggs
1 3/4 cups granulated sugar
1 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups grated zucchini (about 2 small zucchini)
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 cup confectioners’ sugar
Preheat the oven to 350° F. Grease two loaf pans (or a 10-inch bundt) and dust them with flour.
Place the walnuts in a single layer on a baking sheet and toast them until they are golden brown and aromatic, 12-14 minutes. Cool completely and then finely chop them.
Sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and spices into a medium bowl and set aside. In an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the eggs, sugar and olive oil together on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes, then beat in the vanilla extract. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed. Beat in the dry ingredients all at once on low speed until they are thoroughly combined, then switch to medium speed and mix for 30 seconds. Mix in the zucchini and walnuts on low speed until they are completely incorporated.
Pour the batter into the prepared pans, smoothing the top with a spatula. Bake the cakes for 40 to 45 minutes or until a tester inserted in the cakes comes out clean and the cakes have begun to pull away from the sides of the pans.
While the cake is baking, prepare the glaze. In a medium bowl, whisk together the lemon juice and granulated sugar, then whisk in the confectioners’ sugar until the glaze is completely smooth.
Allow the cakes to cool in the pans for 10 minutes, then carefully invert them onto a wire rack. Using a pastry brush, immediately brush the glaze over the entire surface of the warm cake, using all of the glaze; it will adhere to the cake and set as the cake cools. Allow the cake to cool completely and the glaze to dry.
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