Originally published in 2009 complete with weird angle, yellowish photos from the early years of AOC, this is definitely a keeper recipe that deserved an update with new, pinnable images and printable recipe. I’m not kidding when I say that every time we eat this, we’re all amazed at how good it is – still!
There’s a story behind this truly amazing white zucchini cake with a caramelly-nutty (super easy!) broiled frosting:
We were at my mother-in-law’s house a couple years ago celebrating Brian’s birthday.
Now, my mother-in-law is a beautiful hostess and has taught me many things about hospitality (including using the “good” dishes all the time, serving whatever you have, and including all ages at the table with those good dishes, because entertaining is about the people and making them feel special), so it’s always a treat to go to her house and sit around her table. And the food is always good – and plentiful.
But I have to admit that on this night when I saw that the birthday cake was a “plain” cake (i.e., not chocolate), I was a little disappointed. I watched her mix together a simple topping to create an old-fashioned broiled frosting that I had never seen before. I was intrigued and curious.
But…it wasn’t chocolate.
We sang the birthday song, the candles were blown out and I asked for just a little piece, please (it’s so easy to eat less dessert when you don’t think you’re going to like it, isn’t it?).
I took a little bite. Oh my…what was in this cake?
Another bite. Oh yes. Moist perfection, caramelly topping, nuts…what on earth was this? When I actually said this out loud, Brian’s mom said there was a “secret” ingredient. Mayonnaise? No. Since it was the time of year we were trying to use up garden produce, I guessed zucchini, to which she smiled and said yes.
It was hard to believe – we couldn’t see it, couldn’t feel it.
By this time the whole family was trying to find the zucchini in the cake. How could it be invisible? And then she shared the secret to the “secret” ingredient: the zucchini was peeled and some of the juice pressed out in a colander. But honestly, the texture wasn’t anything I had experienced in my other baked zucchini recipes.
And we all had a second piece.
I wrote down the recipe before we left that night. Because I learned that there sometimes is more to life than chocolate and now I never let zucchini season go by without making this at least once (or more…). I’ve learned that it freezes perfectly and stays moist – I’ve served it months (one time a year!) later with no one believing it had been frozen so long.
As if I needed another reason to like this cake.
- 3 egg whites
- ¼ c. oil
- ¼ c. butter, softened
- ⅔ c. sugar
- 2 c. flour (unbleached or all-purpose)
- 2 Tb. cornstarch
- 3 tsp. baking powder
- ¼ t. salt
- ⅔ c. milk
- 2 c. peeled, grated zucchini, pressed in a colander
- ⅔ c. packed brown sugar
- ¼ c. butter
- 1 c. chopped nuts
- 2 Tb. milk
- For the cake: Grease and flour two 8" round pans. Heat oven to 375 degrees.
- Beat egg whites until stiff in a mixer bowl; set aside in a small bowl.
- In the same mixer bowl, cream together oil and butter; add the sugar and beat until fluffy.
- In a 4-cup measure or medium bowl, mix together the flour, cornstarch, baking powder, and salt. Add alternately with the milk to the creamed butter mixture. Beat until smooth.
- Stir in the zucchini and then gently fold the reserved eggs whites into batter. Divide between prepared pans, spreading evenly with a spatula.
- Bake for about 25 minutes, until a wooden toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.
- Let cool 10 minutes in the pans, then remove from pans to cool completely on a rack.
- For the frosting: Mix brown sugar, butter, and nuts in a small bowl; stir in milk until smooth.
- Just before serving, place the cake rounds on a cookie sheet and spread each with an even amount of the frosting mixture.
- Broil about 5 inches from heat until frosting bubbles and browns, about 3 minutes. Watch carefully- the frosting burns easily.
- Place one layer on a serving plate and top with the other layer.
- Serve immediately - and be prepared to be amazed.
**Make ahead tip: this cake freezes beautifully!! I've made it during zucchini season, frozen the plain rounds and eaten them a year later and they were still just as perfectly moist.
Have I convinced you? Beg, borrow or buy zucchini and make this – you will thank me!