Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Zucchini-Olive Oil Cake with Crunchy Lemon Glaze

A week before Otis was born my husband and I ate our last supper out, that is as a couple without children. We knew things were going to change in a big way. So we thought long and hard about where we should go for this big (and very special) celebration. We already had the good fortune of dining at Per Se on my 30th birthday (that's a story for another time, but holy cow!) and we'd been to some of the city's best restaurants including Eleven Madison Park, Gramercy Tavern, Le Bernandin and Del Posto. Babbo was a place we'd always wanted to go to but never did, until the week before our first son arrived. Getting reservations was no picnic, but we got it done. We ate course after course and each plate was more delicious than the one preceding it. I was really glad to be wearing loose maternity garb, if you know what I mean. Babbo was a truly wonderful dining experience.
When I saw this recipe for Zucchini Olive-Oil cake posted on David Lebovitz's website, I made a mental note that I just had to make it -- due in large part to the fact that the original recipe came from Gina DePalma, the James Beard Award winning pastry chef who worked at Chanterelle, Gramery (under Claudia Fleming) and who currently makes the sweets at Babbo
Though the traditional zucchini season has ended and summer is a distant memory, I was reminded of this cake when I discovered it on The Moveable Feasts. Amy, the author of the aforementioned blog, left a comment on one of my posts and I had some free time (the kids were sleeping) so I started to scroll through some of Amy's entries (her blog is terrific). And there it was...that recipe...the one for Zucchini Olive-Oil Cake with Crunchy Lemon Glaze. Amy had seen it on Lottie + Doof, who had also adapted the original De Palma recipe from Dolce Italiano: Desserts from the Babbo Kitchen. The cake was once again on my radar.
The recipe is homey, and much more comfort-foody than the traditional pastry/dessert fare at Babbo.  But don't let that fool you; it is no less delicious. The zucchini, walnuts, and olive-oil are fantastic together. And don't get me started on the crunchy lemon glaze... 
This is, hands down, my favorite zucchini bread/cake. Enjoy and happy baking! 
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Some notes: The original recipe uses a bundt pan, which certainly has a more sophisticated look than cake loaf pans-- but I used 2 loaf pans because that's what I have and it worked perfectly.

Re: Grating the Zucchini. I grated about 3 medium zucchinis by using the finer side of a standard box grater. This yielded about 3 cups. Then I used a cheesecloth to drain some of the liquid out of the zucchini.
Before you get scared by the large amount of sugar, remember this is for 2 loaves, not one. I saw an adaptation that replaced the cup of olive oil for 1/4 cup olive oil and 3/4 applesauce. I haven't tried this modification and likely won't as I love olive oil, but if you do, let me know how it turns out.

Zucchini Cake with Crunchy Lemon Glaze (Adapted from Gina DePalma’s Dolce Italiano, via The Moveable Feasts, via Lottie + Doof)
1 cup walnut pieces
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon kosher salt (sounds like a lot, but you want it all)
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 – 3 cups grated zucchini (about 3 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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1 comment:

  1. This is one of the tastiest things I have EVER made at home. Thanks so much!