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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 Comments Post a comment
  1. kg #

    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.

    June 11, 2012
    • Yes, a dusting of powdered sugar would be nice and easy, as would some fresh whipped cream!

      June 11, 2012
      • kg #

        done and done. thanks, Pate a Chew

        June 11, 2012
  2. Beautiful cake. I like zucchini my desserts.

    June 11, 2012
  3. Look at that glaze!! This cake looks like the perfect breakfast treat!

    June 11, 2012
  4. Rebecca #

    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!

    June 11, 2012
  5. oh man. i do love a good zucchini baked good! and olive oil cake, one of my new favorites :) this one’s going on the to-make list as well

    June 11, 2012
  6. Yum! I love glazed anything…and zucchini is one of my favorite additions to almost anything. This sounds delicious! I’ll be trying it very soon. Thanks!


    June 11, 2012
  7. This sounds wonderful. I have never had a zucchini cake only the bread so I bet this is even better. Yumm

    June 11, 2012
  8. This cake looks fantastic – healthy but delicious and loving the lemon glaze :D

    Choc Chip Uru

    June 11, 2012
  9. I’ve always wanted to try an olive oil cake, and this one looks just wonderful. So moist, plus the glaze is an elegant touch.

    June 11, 2012
  10. I always have liked these type of cake but I have yet to try one with olive oil. I am sure it is delicious and lends a lot of moisture to the cake, it looks delicious!

    June 11, 2012
  11. mmmm! and an excuse to bake the day before too!

    June 11, 2012
  12. Allison #

    It looks so good! :)

    June 11, 2012
  13. 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.

    June 11, 2012
  14. This looks very good and I’m looking forward to making it. I like finding new recipes for bundt cakes.

    June 12, 2012
  15. I love olive oil cakes, and this one looks fantastic! The lemon glaze sounds perfect.

    June 12, 2012
  16. I always want to try this. Zucchini and olive oil sound like a great combination in a bread. Bookmarking this!

    June 12, 2012
  17. I have never tried an olive oil cake, but they sound delicious! I love baking with zucchini, I can only imagine now good this is!

    June 12, 2012
  18. Love the idea of zucchini and olive oil cake! Congratulations on top 9 today! :)

    June 13, 2012
    • Thank you! If you get a chance, you should make it, I think you’d love it!

      June 13, 2012
  19. Congrats on Top 9!

    June 13, 2012
  20. That’s novel …. looks terrific!

    June 13, 2012
  21. Congratulations on your foodbuzz top 9, today!

    June 13, 2012
  22. I was not surprised to see your Zucchini Olive Oil Cake in today’s Top 9! Congrats!!

    June 13, 2012
  23. Great Recipe! Always looking for a way to use up the abundance of zucchini

    June 13, 2012
  24. Bookmarking!

    June 13, 2012
  25. I can never get too much zucchini, and this cake looks spectacular! I love olive oil cakes.

    June 13, 2012
  26. foodiestuntman #

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

    June 13, 2012
  27. Debbie #

    Reblogged this on Created4youFoods and commented:
    Tis the season for zucchini. This recipe looked good but I may find ways to cut the sugar content.

    June 13, 2012
  28. This sounds so good. I’ve made a very similar cake before but using butter rather than oil but I’d like to try it with oil.

    June 14, 2012
  29. 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!

    June 14, 2012
  30. Marina #

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

    June 17, 2012
    • 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!

      June 21, 2012
  31. Liz #

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

    June 18, 2012

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