More than Enough to Go Around
This is not a light and airy cake. You won’t need to tip toe past the oven for fear it will fall while baking. A slice of it on your plate is not delicate and spongy, but that doesn’t mean it should be passed by. What do you expect from a cake made with such a sturdy, practical and slightly clunky vegetable as the zucchini? True, there are plenty of perfect small squash with delicate, smooth skin. Whether or not they are the envy of their overgrown siblings, I’m not sure, but I certainly prefer the more utilitarian zucchinis. The ones that can be grilled, shredded, frozen and baked into cakes because there is more than enough to go around. A big, slightly awkward squash means that I should bake a chocolate zucchini cake soon.
I make it once every summer, but not much more often. I found the original recipe from a housemate’s copy of the Horn of the Moon Cookbook, but I’ve carried around my adapted version, jotted on a pink piece of paper for several years now. The slip of paper was tucked into the pages of another cookbook and I lost it for a while, but it fluttered out sometime this spring.
This chocolate zucchini cake is dense, full of chocolate, and moist from the shredded squash. It is a sturdy cake, for carrying to a picnic, a camping trip or dividing into slices for filling lunch boxes. You can also cut it with the tender care that should not be reserved only for cakes of the light and airy sort. Place this slice, slightly warm, on a plate next to a cool smooth scoop of vanilla ice cream.
I won’t even try to tell you that the zucchini makes it healthy, but I love that this is a seasonal chocolate cake that celebrates abundance!
Chocolate Zucchini Cake
I know the original recipe came from the Horn of the Moon Cookbook (or maybe its sequel, Beyond the Moon), but this is my adapted version. I baked it in a 9-inch springform pan — it is a fairly large cake so use a pan of the equivalent size or two smaller pans if you want to make a rich, dense layer cake.
3 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
3/4 cup cocoa powder
3/4 cup butter
1 cup honey
1/4 cup milk
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 1/2 cups shredded zucchini or summer squash
1 cup chocolate chips (optional)
Sift together flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and cocoa. In a separate bowl beat the butter until light and fluffy. Add the honey and beat to combine. Add the eggs and vanilla and beat until smooth. Slowly stir in half the dry ingredients. Pour in the milk and continue to stir slowly. After the milk is mixed in, add the rest of the dry ingredients. Stir in the zucchini and chocolate chips (if you are using them.) Pour into buttered and floured pan and bake at 350′ for one hour or until the middle of the cake feels solid and springs back when gently pressed. Allow the cake to cool in the pan for 15 minutes, then remove it to cool until ready to eat. Serve warm or at room temperature.