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I like using words like ‘moistest.’ The brain gets plenty of words it hears all the time. This Moistest Zucchini-Spice Cake really is! It’s also spongy, deeply satisfying; and the flavor— you’ll not be quite sure where the zucchini went, actually. (It went to the moistest.) This Paleo cake is dairy-free, nut-free and coconut-free.
The flavor is a bit Mayan, with strong notes of cinnamon. It’s a dark cake, the color coming (in part) from just a bit of toasted carob or (please) Fair Trade cocoa. Does the cake taste chocolatey? No, it tastes complex and transports you to a happy land you know not where… a bit of mystery to make you think while you eat.
The first time I baked this cake I poured the batter into a 7″ cast iron skillet and baked it rustic-style. We cut it into 8 fat, thick wedges with a wooden knife and feasted both after dinner and with breakfast the next morning. “Wiff iff rilly guud,” my husband said as he held his piece in his hands and, with big lips extended, chewed his second bite.
Delighted with how moist and yet how tall the cake was I still wanted frosting. SO the next morning for “breaky” I made myself Frosting for One* in a bowl. And I spread my piece thickly with it. That look, that texture of pressing the tines of a fork down through frosting and then down into moist bouyant cake and then eating the spongy, rich goodness– THAT is one of my favorite eating experiences. CAKE.
Moist cake offers options: eat it as is, plain and delightful. This cake stands alone so well. Add a glaze to set off the treat visually and taste-wise. Think Donut. Make a layer cake with cream cheese frosting or chocolate ganache or buttercream, and WOW the world with the love you built. (There are cream cheese frosting, a non-dairy version, too, and chocolate ganache frosting recipes in my cookbook.)
Bundt cake is the classic presentation for spice cake, yes? Perfect, with a glaze, so fitting. My kids agree with this, insisting that a zucchini cake is not a birthday cake and that the batter is destined for a bundt pan. So I present this batter to you according to destiny and welcome you to embrace tradition, with a cup of good tea or a mug of good coffee at your side. You will not be disappointed.
BUT, this cake actually also calls my name to be made into a layered birthday cake. If you leave out the cinnamon (which I did the first time I made the recipe) and close your eyes all you taste is moist good cake, almost like yellow cake, but with a lot more going on. (My husband’s observation, actually.) You will NOT have a dry cake (as some layer cakes tend to be) if you make this into a layered (birthday) cake, just goodness. So be decadent if you’re tempted and make this into a great layered cake with your favorite frosting. I have eaten it now with both cream cheese frosting and chocolate buttercream and both fit it beautifully.
Play! It’s cake!
Yes. It’s that time of year! (It’s also my favorite veggie.) This recipe works well with those big overgrown zukes, too. So if you have them busting out of your garden or have them given to you and you need more uses for them, this cake will come to your rescue, (in more ways than one).
To Double or Not to Double
This recipe actually doubles well. Not all baking recipes do. But yes, you can do the whole thing exactly the same way, either in a blender or in a bowl with mixer and just double the ingredients- still, perfection.
The Why– You will want to double this recipe if you are making the bundt cake, so it fills the cake pan nicely, and tall. Double the recipe also for a two-layer, 8″ frosted cake. Keep it a single recipe if you just want one, sweet, small cake with 8 modest-size pieces.
The Amount of Sweetener
Ya’all know I’m all about health and wellness and yes, treats in moderation. Usually this means I bake with very little sweetener. Most of my recipes emphasize not too much. This cake has a whole 1/2 cup of pure maple syrup! That’s part of what makes it cake and not bread. So it’s for special occasions. Make sure you have some good protein first to help fill you up. Otherwise… you’ll want to keep eating this cake.
If you noticed how pretty the cinnamon in the photos is, that’s because it’s Red Ape (find it HERE), an orangutan-safe cinnamon that is almost orange in color. The flavor is far superior to other cinnamons, and we even used this brand in bulk at our Paleo ice cream cafe. A taste experience in and of itself.
*Frosting for One
How do you do this? You simply play the ratio game according to the rules: 2 parts soft, room temperature fat (butter, lard, or coconut oil) + 1 part toasted carob powder or cocoa powder (optional) + 1 part maple syrup or honey. Stir together well. That’s it. Make sure your fat is not melted, nor cold and hard. (You can also sub in part stevia for the sweetener, so you don’t overdose on fructose, glucose or sucrose etc.) Your recipe might look like this: 1 Tablespoon + 1 teaspoon soft butter, 2 teaspoons cocoa powder, 2 teaspoons maple syrup. You can also add a teeny pinch of sea salt and a drop of vanilla.
- 1 cup zucchini, grated
- 2/3 cup Otto's cassava flour see sourcing below in Recipe Notes
- 3 whole eggs pasture-raised preferred, room temperature
- 1/2 cup maple syrup
- 1/3 cup flax seed meal
- 1/4 cup lard or butter, melted and cooled slightly
- 3 Tablespoons toasted carob powder or fair trade cocoa powder, see Recipe Notes for sourcing
- 1-1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
- 1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon baking soda, sifted
- 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease cake pan(s) or bundt pan. (I use sustainably-sourced lard.)
Place dry ingredients in medium sized bowl: cassava flour, flax seed meal, carob or cocoa, cinnamon, sifted baking soda and sea salt. Whisk to mix.
Place wet ingredients in high powered blender (or use a bowl and hand-held mixer): zucchini, maple syrup, eggs, melted fat, and vanilla. Blend briefly to mix, about 5 seconds.
Add dry ingredients and blend again, to mix, about 5 seconds. Scrape sides of blender jar (or bowl) with rubber spatula and blend again to incorporate all, 5-8 more seconds.
Pour batter into prepared pan or pans. Bake in preheated oven until toothpick inserted in center comes out with moist crumbs adhering. Times will vary according to pan size: Cake pan(s): 25 minutes Bundt pan with doubled recipe: 50-55 minutes
Allow cake to cool 1 hour before unmolding. If you want the glaze to sit on top (see photo below), freeze cake for 20 minutes first to facilitate the glaze setting. Omit the short freezing time if you want the glaze to soak in. See Glaze Recipe below in Recipe Notes.
- You can buy Otto's Cassava Flour here. They offer the best price and FREE shipping.
- This is the toasted carob powder I recommend.
- This cocoa powder is FAIRLY TRADED. Many cocoas are not, even if they're organic and non-alkalized etc. Please support fair trade. Children and families working long hours for low wages is NOT something we should support.
- Melt and measure 1/4 cup cocoa butter (Fair Trade). Stir in 1 Tablespoon maple syrup. They will not mix well, staying somewhat separate. The flavor will be great.
- When the cake is chilled, stir and spoon the glaze over the cake decoratively. It will harden and solidify quickly. Garnish with good quality cinnamon.
I LOVE cocoa butter (find it HERE). I’ve made several recipes that use it: either for a glaze or in bread, in cake, in homemade chocolate, or in hot drinks (and this one). I talk here about its nourishing properties; it’s a healthy fat. Cocoa butter has a lovely flavor, like chocolate but more floral, creamy and a bit like Persian perfume. This cake is already mysterious and deep in flavor. If you add the glaze, that quality is added to, ameliorated, excited. I like when glaze crumbles off, and also melts in your mouth with each bite– the texture as it first crumbles and then dissolves. I also like when it soaks into cake. The heavy cinnamon sprinkle on top of the glaze is a magnificent flavor combination.
This is my favorite Paleo flour. It’s made from the cassava root, also called yucca or manioc. I used to think it was a nutrient-deficient tuber, but it’s not. Apart from offering nourishment to many developing nations (where meat is often quite expensive and not accessible), it offers resistant starch, which is excellent for colon health and the probiotic colonies that live there. It’s now easily accessible in the States and sold by a small family-owned company. It’s my go-to flour of choice for grain-free baking. How does it digest? Coming off of the very low-starch diet of GAPS, I can say it’s gentle, one of the seamless reintroductions we’ve made. (Note: it is not the same thing as tapioca flour/starch, which is the starch alone taken from the cassava root and which is much harder to digest.) (Find cassava flour here.)