Zucchini-almond cake

I enjoyed those zucchini bread cookies so much, I decided to try another zucchini recipe.  This time, a cake.  A very moist, gluten-free (though that's not a requisite for me...in fact, I enjoy gluten a little too much) cake.  It's another Martha recipe; I wasn't specifically looking for it but just like the cookies, I found it while browsing the site and it appealed to me so here we are.  (And by the way, Martha Stewart Cakes is finally coming into existence and I've already pre-ordered it!)
This zucchini-almond cake is basically a foam cake so it has a bouncy texture to it and is very moist, thanks in part to the zucchini.  It's made much like a genoise (except it's not quite one because there's baking powder in it) so you start by whisking eggs and sugar in a bowl set on top of a pot of simmering water to dissolve the sugar and get the eggs ready to be whipped in the mixer to its loftiest potential.  Then you fold in the other ingredients: almond meal mixed together with some potato starch (which I now know helps make a tender cake), melted butter, vanilla, and the grated zucchini.
When it comes to cake, I'm always chasing "moist" and this one definitely fits the bill.  If I have any qualms about it, it's that I've come to discover that gluten-free cakes made wholly with almond meal instead of flour makes for a heavier (albeit, moist) crumb that just makes the cake more filling.  It's light and heavy at the same time, if that makes any sense.  

This may sound crazy because I love almonds but I've now figured out that I, personally, prefer most cakes made with some component of flour instead of all almond meal (I'm not talking about flourless chocolate cakes though - I love those).  So I do wonder what this cake would taste like with some or all of the almonds replaced with, say, cake flour.  It may be a little less moist but I envision a lighter crumb akin to a chiffon cake, which is one of my favorite kind of cakes.
This cake is altogether very different from the zucchini bread cookies. While those are warm, nutty, and slightly spiced, reminiscent of a morning muffin or coffee cake, this zucchini-almond cake is likewise moist but on the side of an eggy-vanilla cake.  It gives off a wonderful perfume of eggs, sugar, and vanilla as it's baking.  It set my brain up for chiffon cake but as I mentioned above, the almond meal makes for a different texture and feel.  My husband didn't find it too heavy so it really is a matter of preference.
I had some cream in the fridge so I whipped some up for my husband to have with the cake.  He never says no to a little whipped cream on top of a piece of cake!  I often hear "this is really good with the whipped cream" from him.  

Making these zucchini recipes makes me wish I had a home garden of my own but, unfortunately, I am no gardener.  Not at all.  I'd love to have just a simple herb box (not even a "garden") but I'm the type of person who can't even keep a simple basil plant alive!  It's safe to say the farmer's market and Whole Foods can continue to count on my business.


Recipe

Zucchini-Almond Cake
Adapted from Martha Stewart

- One 8-inch round cake -

1 1/2 cups almond meal/flour 
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons potato starch
1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder (make sure it's gluten-free if you need it that way)
1/4 teaspoon fine salt
3 large eggs, at room temperature
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
4 tablespoons butter, melted
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup finely grated zucchini (about 1 medium zucchini), squeezed of excess liquid
Confectioners' sugar, for dusting (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease (with butter or cooking spray) an 8-inch round cake pan and line the bottom with a round of parchment.  Grease the paper.

Whisk the almond flour, potato starch, baking powder and salt together in a bowl.

Place eggs in the mixing bowl of a stand mixer and set over (not directly in) a pan of barely simmering water.  Whisk for about a minute, until eggs are foamy.  Add brown sugar and continue whisking until sugar is dissolved and the mixture is fluffy, about 3 minutes.  Remove the bowl from the pan, wipe the moisture away from the outside of the bowl and set it in the stand mixer. Using the whisk attachment, whisk on high until mixture is thick and pale, about 7-10 minutes.

Remove the bowl from the mixer and gently fold in the melted butter, almond flour mixture, vanilla, and zucchini.  Scrape batter into the prepared cake pan and gently tap the pan a few times on the counter-top to release some of the air bubbles.  Bake until cake is golden brown on top and a cake tester inserted into the center comes out with some moist crumbs attached.  This takes approximately 25-30 minutes but check early.

Let cake cool completely in the pan on a wire rack.  Run a knife or small offset spatula around the sides of the cake and invert it onto a platter.  Dust with confectioners' sugar, if desired.  



46 comments:

  1. Love grain free cakes! This looks indeed very tempting with its light and smooth texture. Well done!

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    1. I'm still learning so much about different grains and gluten-free and all that. So much to learn and taste-test...I'm doing a little at a time! : ) Thanks, Angie!

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  2. This sounds SO delicious! And your photos are absolutely gorgeous!

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    1. You're too kind, Marie. Thank you.

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  3. Monica, this looks so moist and gorgeous! I have never tried zucchini baked goods and am anxious to get baking! Almond meal is another ingredient I have not played with so I'll be heading into the market to get some. Thanks for this beautiful recipe --pinning! :) Have a great week! xo

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    1. You don't taste the zucchini, Anne! I can tell you that.
      This cake is quite different - flavor wise - from the cookies. Two different stories but I prefer the cookies myself. This cake, made totally with almond flour instead of regular flour - is super moist but also heavy with that moisture at the same time. I think I prefer a bit of flour in it to lift it up a bit, particularly since I'm not concerned with gluten.

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  4. Monica, even if you are not a gardener you can still grow zucchinis without much effort. They are notoriously prolific and one single zucchini plant can feed a small family. Zucchini cake sounds delicious and you can never go wrong with almond flour.

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    1. HI Balvinder! I hear that about zucchini all the time but I have zero confidence in myself in that regard. I'm also not very enthusiastic about playing in dirt. Sorry! : ) Thanks for checking in!

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  5. :P I'm no gardener either and I really admire those with green thumbs...and a gorgeous garden filled with veggies and herbs. But oh well, I'm glad Whole Foods is not far away! hahaha....your zucchini cake is gorgeous. And I love how moist it is. :) The whip cream on top would be a "must" for me! hehehe....

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    1. Amy - I remember your bountiful herb garden! You are definitely waaay more of a gardener than I ever will be! I know nothing, seriously, and would not survive without Whole Foods and the supermarkets. hehee...

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  6. I can see the moistness on top. Very interesting and tempting, the plus that its gluten free. Thanks!!

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  7. Hi! I just love cakes made from almond meal. They are so dense and moist. This looks particularly delicious...and what perfect timing...we have so much zucchini at our house! Thank you for sharing! I'm hosting a giveaway on my blog tomorrow for one of Ryan's necklaces, and I'd love for you to stop by! I hope you are having a wonderful Sunday!

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    1. I'll have to stop by, Monet, thanks.

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  8. This cake sounds delicious! I'm always looking for new dessert recipes that I can make for my sister (she has to do the gluten-free thing). I completely get you on the light but heavy thing - that's exactly what I always think!

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    1. Glad you know what I'm talking about, Ashley! I think I've just figured it out...

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  9. What a gorgeous, elegant and mouthwatering cake! Love the additon of zucchini - makes me feel I can guiltlessly eat a couple of slices ;)
    Shashi @ http://runninsrilankan.com

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    1. I hate any sort of "guilt" associated with eating but I suppose it can't be helped sometimes. : ) No guilt here, I think!

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  10. I love baking with zucchini! And you can't go wrong with a Martha recipe!

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    1. I agree about the Martha recipes! I feel like I learned to bake from her way back when...

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  11. Hi Monica! I love a good, moist almond cake and bet the addition of zucchini is perfect! Lovely and yes please, I'll have some sweetened whipped cream on mine :)

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    1. Hi Tricia! haha...no complaints on the whipped cream. You might not "need" it but what's need got to do with it! ; )

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  12. Beautiful cake Monica...almond and zucchini...such a great combination. The texture of this cake looks perfect.
    Thanks for the recipe and have a great week ahead :D

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    1. Thanks, Juliana. I'm enjoying the last week of August and hope you are too!

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  13. Monica, this cake looks so soft and moist - I need a few slices of this in my life! Yum! Plus, whipped cream - yes!

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    1. Hi Pamela - yes, it's really moist and will fill you up!

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  14. Mmmm, these flavors sound like they would go wonderful together!

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    1. I liked it, Melanie, even though 100% almond meal makes for a heavy/filling cake...

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  15. What a perfectly level and tender looking cake!

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  16. potato starch: i'm intrigued! i've been seeing that quite a bit lately in terms of GF baked goods, and i suppose i need to get some and try it out. I'm your cake twin; i won't go into the details, but all the things you said about what you liked and don't like in a cake? SAME. I love the idea of GF cakes, but the all-almond flour ones do tend to be a bit heavier, which for me means smaller pieces (slivers, really) but i love the flavor, and i love their moisture level. You've given me something to think about with this; i like you for that. :)

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    1. Yes - not sure if it's a GF thing or for the purpose of silkiness, if you will. The potato starch pancakes I made recently? I've made them a few times now because they really do make for fluffy, soft pancakes and I suppose it does that for cakes in general. I hear that about cornstarch in cookies, etc. Supposed to be an old-school thing.

      That's so neat about our mutual cake preferences. I know I'll like something you say you do! : ) I think I just figured this out about GF cakes and all that almond meal. Never thought I'd ever say something had too much almonds in it! I'm with you - a sliver totally does the trick. I love it and then I feel like I don't at the same time, you know? I think you know what I mean...

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  17. Yay for another almond recipe! And a moist cake! I think we have kindred palates, Monica ;) Your recipes always sound SO good to me :) I bet this would be yummy with almond extract in place of the vanilla too!

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    1. Thanks a lot, Amy! I did consider using some or all almond extract, too! Probably spent way more time thinking about that than any normal person should, actually. In the end, I went with it "as is"...sometimes when I have a lot of eggs going on, I like that vanilla with it...

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  18. Such a gorgeous and perfectly golden zucchini cake, Monica! I'd kill for a slice!

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    1. You are too sweet, Georgia. Thank you.

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  19. This is mindblowing. I think it's one of the most beautiful gluten free cake i've ever seen :)

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    1. Wow - I don't know about that but what a sweet compliment! I appreciate it. : )

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  20. This looks like a nice moist cake, and I love the idea of almond and zucchini together. Yum!

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    1. It is super moist - though, as I said, the pure almond meal really makes it super moist and weighs it down so a little slice is more than enough.

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  21. Yes I love sneaky ways of getting vegetables into cake! This looks gorgeous and I can imagine it tastes just as great! Love that it is gluten free too :)

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    1. It's amazing how zucchini gives loads of moisture and maybe a hint of sweetness, and you don't taste zucchini (I suppose because it doesn't have much of an overpowering flavor to begin with...).

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  22. Love seeing zucchini pieces in the cake! Looks very moist and love the elegant look of this cake.

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    1. I like plain cakes w/o frosting a lot...thanks, Nami.

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  23. Wow a gluten free cake... so moist and yummy !! thanks for sharing this recipe.. :)

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    1. I never realized gluten free cakes made with almond meal are so so moist. But it does make it heavy in another sense so a little goes a long way. Maybe that's a good thing...I haven't decided.

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