Zucchini Olive Oil Cake

Olive Oil Cake, Zucchini Cake, Zucchini Bread, Lemon Glaze, Lemon Zucchini Cake

I always start to go a little zucchini-crazy this time of year.  Last year around this time, I made an outstanding Zucchini and Ricotta Galette and a Chocolate Zucchini Cake, then finished the summer with Zucchini Cornbread.  Did I need another zucchini recipe on this blog?  Absolutely.

I may be an experienced zucchini-baker, but this is the first time I’ve made an olive oil cake, and luckily I picked a pretty amazing one to make.  Any recipe recommended by David Lebovitz has to be good!  This cake comes from Gina DePalma, who was pastry chef of Mario Batali’s Babbo in New York City.

This is a delicious, lightly spiced, super moist cake, courtesy of the olive oil and zucchini.   The olive oil is not overpowering, and gives it a slight fruity flavor.  The glaze in particular went really well with the flavors of the cake.  The addition of a granulated sugar in the glaze gives it since sweet-lemony crunch, and adds the perfect amount of sweetness to the top of a not-very-sweet cake.  It may not look all that pretty, but it tastes amazing with the spiced zucchini batter.  This cake is lovely as a dessert, or for breakfast or brunch.

One tip: I thought this cake tasted a lot better the day after I made it.  Day-old cakes can be dry, but this just gets more moist and flavorful with time!

One year ago: The Baked Brownie

Zucchini Olive Oil Cake

Adapted from Dolce Italiano: Desserts from the Babbo Kitchen by Gina DePalma, via David Lebovitz

Makes 1 round bundt or 9 inch cake, or 2 loaf cakes

Total time: 90 minutes


For the cake:

1 cup almonds, pecans, or walnuts, toasted (I used pecans)
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon kosher or sea salt
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon dried ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
3 large eggs, at room temperature
1 3/4 cups sugar
1 cup extra-virgin olive oil*
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups finely grated zucchini

For the lemon glaze:

1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 cup powdered (confectioner’s) sugar

* I confess that I used around 3/4 cup of olive oil because I *gasp* ran out of olive oil.  I know, I think that makes me a horrible Greek, but it does happen occasionally.  The cake was still very moist and absolutely delicious, so if you want to cut the oil back to 3/4 cup, go right ahead.

1.  Preheat the oven to 350ºF.  Grease a 10 cup bundt or tube cake pan with non-stick baking spray or butter, dust with flour, then tap out any excess.

2.  Put the nuts in a food processor and pulse until finely chopped, or chop the nuts by hand.  In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg.

3.  In the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, beat the eggs, 1 3/4 cup sugar, and olive oil for 3 minutes on medium speed, until light and fluffy.  Stop and scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl with a spatula, then add the vanilla.

4.  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.  Stir in the chopped nuts and grated zucchini.

5.  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.  Mine was ready at the 45 minute mark.

6.  During the last few minutes that the cake is baking, make the glaze by whisking together the lemon juice, 1/3 cup granulated sugar, and powdered sugar.

7.  Let the cake cool on a cooling rack for 10 minutes, then carefully invert it onto the cooling rack. Brush the glaze over the cake with a pastry brush and let the cake cool completely before serving.

The cake can be wrapped and will keep for a few days. You can freeze the unglazed cake, but to apply the glaze, you’ll need to defrost the cake then warm it so the glaze will adhere properly.

40 thoughts on “Zucchini Olive Oil Cake

  1. this looks really great (especially since my dad always has a bumper crop of zucs from his garden). any ideas for an alternative to the lemon glaze? i’m not a huge fan of lemony desserts.

  2. I’m so glad this went up today, I was hoping it would come soon when you teased the pic last night. :-) I’m on my way to spend a little QT with my mom and Grams and expect there will be a lot of baking, will add this to the list!

  3. This looks delicious. I seem to have a lot of fails when it comes to zucchini and my baked goods. I am growing some of my own this year so hopefully I can get over it. I know I will be needing lots of zucchini recipes.

  4. I don’t commonly associate zucchini with cake so I appreciate this recipe. Congratulations on making the foodbuzz Top 9!

  5. Oh just lovely! Anything with zucchini makes me smile, and this cake looks just heavenly. Thank you for sharing such a delicious recipe. It’s only 7:30 AM, and I’m already wishing I could forgo work and spend the day in the kitchen. I hope you have a wonderful end to your week!

  6. I never tried baking with zucchini until your reading your blog. This cake looks amazing – will definitely try next week!

    1. Hi Marina! I’m so glad you are still reading, I know you like to bake as much as I do and have the same tastes :) I think you’ll really like this cake, you should defintiely try it!

  7. Oh, this looks marvelous! Despite the rest of the family’s trepidation where zucchini is concerned, I’m still going to make this soon!!!

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