Zucchini-Olive Oil Cake with Lemon Crunch Glaze

One last and final recipe from Gina DePalma’s Dolce Italiano. When I posted the Sicilian Pistachio Cookies and the Mosaic Biscotti, I mentioned I had a third recipe already prepared in the wings when I received the pistachio paste.

Zucchini-Olive Oil Cake with Lemon Crunch Glaze.

If you’re looking for Gina’s Dolce Italiano, Amazon reminded me in the U.S. you can still order it today and tomorrow (Dec. 19th and 20th) with 2-day shipping and then 1-day shipping – here are their holiday ordering cutoffs. If you’re really getting down to the wire, remember that Amazon Gift Cards are always a nice touch – or donate in their name for the Menu for Hope! Check my Artigianale Basket Details and Menu for Hope Prize Highlights for some ideas!

While this Zucchini cake isn’t as flashy as the biscotti or the cookies for the holiday season, it definitely satisfies you during these winter months. It’s something I imagine my family would snack on with that first cup of coffee or apple cider the morning we open presents.

When I was quite young I used to wake up my brother really early to go downstairs and look at all the presents. Before digital clocks, I once misread the first and second-hands of 1:35 as 7:05! My brother hasn’t let me forget that one. After that my parents then instituted the “7am” rule. If we woke up earlier, we could open our stockings and nothing else. When 7am came around, if they were still in bed, we could “gently suggest” they rise, and we had to give them time to brew a cup of coffee before we got settled and started opening presents.

Therefore in my nostaglia, I am renaming this cake the 7am Christmas Morning Cake.

Do you have a special breakfast tradition on holiday mornings? A special pastry or cake that makes an appearance?

In reality the Zucchini cake made its way to several events including a party and my office, where I spent quite a lot of time with my Italian colleagues and friends guessing all the ingredients in the cake. They never guessed zucchini! I love surprising them, and they came back for more!

Grated zucchini for Zucchini-Olive Oil Cake with Lemon Crunch Glaze from Dolce Italiano

Zucchini-Olive Oil Cake with Lemon Crunch Glaze

Adapted from Gina DePalma’s Dolce Italiano – the instructions call for a bundt pan, which I didn’t have. If you use a glass baking tray, make sure to test the doneness often. I love the bite of the lemon and the nuttiness of the walnuts adds a dimension to the cake that’s hard to distinguish. I think next time I’ll keep them in pieces as I love to crunch through them.

For the cake
1 cup walnut pieces
2 c. unbleached all-purpose flour (I used 00, though)
1 t. baking powder
1/2 t. baking soda
1 t. kosher salt
2 t. ground cinnamon
1 t. ground ginger
1/2 t. ground nutmeg
3 large eggs
1 3/4 c. granulated sugar
1 c. extra-virgin olive oil
2 t. pure vanilla extract
2 1/2 c. grated zucchini (about 2 small zucchini)

For the Lemon Crunch Glaze
1/4c. freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/3c. granulated sugar
1 c. confectioner’s sugar

Olive oil for the Zucchini-Olive Oil Cake with Lemon Crunch Glaze from Dolce Italiano

  1. Preheat oven to 350F (180C). Toast the walnuts for 12-14 minutes, keeping an eye on them so as not to burn them! Set them aside to cool (you can keep the oven on if you want) and then chop them in a food processor finely.
  2. Sift the dry ingredients (flour, baking soda, salt and spices) together. In another bowl, beat the eggs, sugar and olive oil together for a few minutes. Beat in dry ingredients slowly on low speed until mixed well. At this point, the batter got alarmingly dry, but there is so much moisture in the zucchini, it will be very moist. Mix in grated zucchini and walnuts.
  3. Bake the cake from 45-50 minutes. I was using a non-bundt pan so it actually took much longer – don’t be afraid to check it at 35, 45, 55 minutes, etc. until it’s done! The center should not be wobbly and if you insert a toothpick, it should come out clean.
  4. Prepare the glaze while the cake is baking – you will need to apply it to the cake when it’s reasonably hot/warm. Whisk the lemon juice and granulated sugar together, then the confectioner’s sugar until completely smooth.
  5. After taking the cake out of the oven, let cool for 10 minutes, then (if in a bundt) invert it onto a wire rack. If in another type of pan, you can apply the glaze directly using a pastry brush or a spatula. Allow to cool and dry completely before cutting.

Preparing the Lemon Crunch Glaze for Zucchini-Olive Oil Cake with Lemon Crunch Glaze from Dolce Italiano

Thanks, Gina – and now the rest of you – get out there and get the cookbook – maybe you’ll find your family’s next tradition in it!

Zucchini-Olive Oil Cake with Lemon Crunch Glaze from Dolce Italiano

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  1. says

    I’m trying this one too. The pistachio stars were delicious and I’ve got to go and get the book instead of waiting for you to make something and share the recipe!

  2. says

    I’ve always loved zucchini bread. Do Italians not make it? Or were your coworkers just not able to guess yours had zucchini in it?

    And your story about the “7am rule” made me laugh – after a similar incident when I was 4, when I opened my stocking at 1am, and organized all the gifts under the tree so they were grouped by name (I know, I know – I’m a firstborn), they set up a physical barrier at the bottom of the stairs that I wasn’t allowed to move until 7am when they were also awake. :)

  3. says

    Sweet! A new zucchini bread recipe! I will save this for next summer when the zucchini are knocking on the back door and asking to stay in our guest room.

    Looks beautiful :)

    Our Christmas morning (for Bubba and I anyway) means biscuits and gravy. So, no pastries – unless you count buttermilk biscuits “sott'” chicken gravy.

  4. says

    I love the getting up too early to open presents story… that gave me a smile. My parents had the same rule for me and my brother… we usually got down there at like 5 am and had to hold ourselves over with the stockings until around 7 am when my parents would FINALLY get up. Seemed like an eternity. It’s incredible the excitement I used to have going to sleep on Christmas Eve. I think that most people open all their gifts on Christmas Eve here, but seeing all the presents that “Santa” brought on Christmas morning is an experience I definitely want my children to have! We could choose one gift to open on Christmas Eve and the rest had to wait (also because Santa had to bring them!)

  5. says

    Your parents were taskmasters, for sure! Isn’t it something, the excitement we felt over it all and now watch among the little ones.

    Questions on your zucchini loaf (love it!) — are you saying you’d recommend NOT chopping the walnuts? and would you mind doing a quick reminder on what 00 flour is?

    Thanks — love this!

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