as I write this, I have been archiving posts from my old blogspot blog onto this new site. I originally started sweet/tart seattle back in 2007. I posted irregularly, in part because I had a very demanding day job, and partly because I was never really sure if I was a "writer." I loved cooking but blogging about cooking didn't fire me up in quite the same way. it took time to stop and take pictures, and more time to sit and write. and deep down, I wasn't sure that what I had to say would be meaningful to anyone.
so why start up the site again after letting it languish for so many years?
last fall, I left my job to take some time off. I didn't know what I wanted to do with that time--in fact, I was slightly panicked about what to do with my time, because I'm used to being busy. my sweet husband recommended that rather than focusing on checking items off some self-inflicted "to-do" list, that I focus on doing something every day that brought me joy. and for me, that meant being in the kitchen.
I began baking nearly every day, and this time, thanks to swiftly changing technology, snapping photos and uploading them was much easier than it was in 2007. as I posted photos, friends began asking for recipes, and I thought it might be easier to have the recipes archived in a central place.
my perspectives have grown and shifted since 2007, and my relationship to food has deepened. I started wondering if maybe what I have to say about food and cooking and how they fit into my life would matter to people. thus, sweet/tart seattle was renewed. I'm hoping to post more regularly this time around and I hope that this will be a place to share meditations, gardening tips, book recommendations, and of course, recipes like this one.
when summer starts to fade and the chill of fall is in the air, and you've eaten your fill of zucchini in every other conceivable way, turn to this cake. moist and chocolatey, and not too sweet, it represents what I hope sweet/tart seattle will be: an opportunity to celebrate what nourishes us, what comforts us, what brings us joy.
chocolate zucchini cake
this recipe is inspired by the wonderful zucchini olive oil cake in Gina DePalma’s book Dolce Italiano. that recipe really can’t be improved, but after eating my fill of the classic, I was ready to try something new. after some experimentation, I landed on this ratio of cocoa to flour. a little cocoa goes a long way, so be sure to use the highest quality cocoa you can find. you’ll be able to taste the difference. the spices add a lovely complexity to the cake, but you can certainly omit them if you prefer. likewise, the glaze is based on the “crackle” glaze DePalma recommends for the classic. you could use a simple chocolate ganache instead, or leave the cake unglazed and shower it with confectioner’s sugar.
for the cake
1 ¾ cups all purpose flour
¼ cup cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground ginger
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 cup olive oil
1 ¾ cups granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 ½ cups grated zucchini (about two small zucchini)
for the glaze
1/2 cup confectioner’s sugar
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice (or water, or brandy)
butter and flour for greasing a 10 cup bundt cake pan
- preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
- grease and flour a 10 cup bundt pan. set aside.
- in a medium bowl whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and spices.
- sift the cocoa powder into the dry ingredients and whisk to combine.
- in the bowl of a stand mixer, beat together the granulated sugar and eggs.
- with the mixer running, slowly stream in the olive oil and continue beating the mixture until it is emulsified. Add the vanilla and beat to mix it in.
- with the mixer on low, add the dry ingredients, then turn the mixer up to medium and beat for 30 seconds or so. stop the mixer and use a rubber spatula to scrape the mixture down the sides and bottom.
- add the grated zucchini to the batter and mix at low speed until the batter loosens a little. stop the mixer and scrape down the sides and bottom again, to be sure that all of the batter gets incorporated with zucchini.
- pour the batter into the prepared cake pan and place on a rimmed baking sheet.
- bake for 15 minutes, then turn the oven temperature down to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
- continue baking for another 30-35 minutes, rotating the sheet pan about halfway through the bake time to ensure even baking. the cake is done when a wooden skewer inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.
- remove the cake from the oven and place the pan on a wire rack. let it cool in the pan, for about 10 minutes. in the meantime, if you are using it, prepare the glaze.
- in a small bowl, whisk together the granulated sugar and the liquid, to dissolve the sugar slightly.
- into this bowl, sift the confectioner’s sugar and the cocoa. whisk until the mixture makes a smooth glaze. set aside.
- place a sheet of waxed paper under your wire cooling rack. turn your cake out of the pan onto the rack.
- using a pastry brush, begin brushing the cake, while it’s still warm, with your glaze. use all of the glaze to coat every surface of the cake.
- Once the cake is completely coated, let it dry as the cake cools.
- the cake keeps well at room temperature for several days. just cover loosely with plastic wrap or waxed paper