White Zucchini Cake with Broiled Frosting


Here’s the story behind this cake:

We were at my mother-in-law’s house a couple years ago celebrating Brian’s birthday.

Now, my MIL 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, because it’s about the people, not the meal), 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 topping and do an old-fashioned “broiled frosting.” I was intrigued and curious. But it wasn’t chocolate.

Do you see a pattern here?

White Zucchini Cake

We sang the birthday song, the candles were blown out and I asked for just a little piece, please (it’s so easy to be good about 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, caramel topping, nuts. What on earth was this?

My MIL 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 – I couldn’t see it, couldn’t feel it.

By this time the whole family was trying to find the zucchini in the cake. Couldn’t be done. And then she shared the secret to the secret ingredient: the zucchini is 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 there is more to life than chocolate.


White Zucchini Cake with Broiled Frosting


  • 1/4 c. oil
  • 1/4 c. butter, softened
  • 2/3 c. sugar
  • 2 c. flour (unbleached or all-purpose)
  • 2 Tb. cornstarch
  • 3 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/4 t. salt
  • 2/3 c. milk
  • 2 c. peeled, grated zucchini, pressed in a colander
  • 1/2 tsp. lemon peel
  • 3 egg whites


  • 2/3 c. packed brown sugar
  • 1/4 c. butter
  • 1 c. chopped nuts
  • 2 Tb. milk
  1. For the cake: Grease and flour two 8″ round pans. Heat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Cream together the oil and butter; add the sugar and beat until fluffy.
  3. Mix together the flour, cornstarch, baking powder, and salt. Add alternately with the milk to the creamed mixture. Beat until smooth.
  4. Stir in lemon peel and zucchini.
  5. Beat egg whites until stiff; fold into batter.
  6. Bake for 25-30 minutes until a wooden toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.
  7. Let cool 10 minutes in the pans, then remove from pans to cool completely on a rack.
  8. For the frosting: Mix brown sugar, butter, and nuts; stir in milk.
  9. Just before serving, place the cake rounds on a cookie sheet and spread with the frosting.
  10. Broil about 5 inches from heat until frosting bubbles and browns, about 3 minutes. Watch carefully- the frosting burns easily.
  11. Place one layer on a serving plate and top with the other layer.

Serves 8

*Note: the broiled frosting is just a basic one found in my trusty Betty Crocker Cookbook. You can use any broiled frosting you like.


This is part of LifeasMOM’s Ultimate Recipe Swap.


  1. Jami @An Oregon Cottage says

    Anonymous- Oh dear- sorry you had trouble!

    I’ve made this cake many times and it turns out every time (think angel food cake with just the egg whites…). Did you add enough baking powder? If you did, your baking powder could be old- it really can get old and affect your baking. I do hope you get a chance to try it again- it really is a lovely cake!

  2. Anonymous says

    Hi Jami!

    Would you mind telling me the weight of the 2 cups of all-purpose flour in oz./gr.? I just want to make the cake and I want it to be really perfect.

    Thanks for sharing.


    • says

      Well, I only use cup measurements because that’s simplest for me and it always turns out great, but here are the weight equivalents I found: 1 c. all-purpose flour = 4.5 oz. So 2 cups would be 9 oz.

      Hope that helps!

  3. Katrina says

    Have you ever made this with whole grain flour? I do realize that it is a white cake :) We are gluten free and I do a whole grain flour blend that subs great for whole wheat but I’m not sure about all-purpose. If you were to use wheat flour would you need to make any other changes?

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