Friday, 20 April 2012

Zucchini Layer Cake plus random thoughts

Life has been hectic lately.  So I am taking a little time in this post to reflect.  I have a Zucchini Cake that I made last month both for St Patrick's Day and my Green Potluck.  It wasn't perfect but it was close enough to be worth trying again. So here are my musings on the cake and some random thoughts.

We had a birthday lunch for my brother Paul and I had green-tinted white chocolate frosting leftover from Sylvia's birthday.  To compensate for the sweetness of the white chocolate, I decided to add cocoa to this zucchini cake recipe.  It was both vegan and gluten free before I added the frosting.  It was nice but not great.

I had really chosen the cake for the potluck, which was vegan.  As I had thought we didn't have any gluten free people coming along, I decided I was not keen on the cake with Orgran GF flour.  (My mum has recently tried White Wings GF flour which she says is even better.  I just wish we could find Dove flour that Katie uses which sounds really interesting).

On my second attempt I altered the recipe again.  I left out the cocoa, add chia seeds, used a few more zucchini and less milk.  Both times the sugar and oil mixture was dryish but become quite wet once the zucchini was added and allowed to sit for a few minutes.  The wheat flour version needed much less milk than the GF version.  In fact, I wish I hadn't added the cautious 2 tablespoons of milk (which was less than the original 1/4 cup) to the second version because it was just too soft.

The soft cake was matched by soft icing.  I was feeling so disorganised in preparing for the potluck that I just threw in as much icing sugar as I could bear without measuring it.  I think more icing sugar would have made it firmer but probably less butter cream cheese would have been advisable as I had too much frosting.  Unfortunately being soft, meant it slouched rather than standing tall and proud.  But it tasted terrific.  Surprisingly better than when paired with cocoa.

My other failure with the frosting was when I tried to dye it green for the pot luck with some cooked and sieved spinach.  It didn't work.  Even with a few drops of food dye the icing was a very pale delicate green.  More experiments needed here.  The icing looked pretty with lime zest but I wish I had remembered to add lime zest and juice to the mix and have left it in the recipe so I remember next time.

But enough of cake.  Here are a few random thoughts I wanted to jot down:
  • One of Sylvia's favourite questions at the moment is "Why don't cars go on the grass?"  I think it is an excellent question.  Like everyone I get annoyed at some of the law but I do sometimes wonder what went wrong that prompted laws to be passed.  Just imagine some of our busy streets without traffic lights!
  • While I am not keen on some laws, I am even less keen on people trying to make up laws to make my life a misery.  Swanston St in Melbourne City has been a mess for years.  Despite the ban on cars it has never been quite pedestrianised and has a very confused identity.  It is even worse with all these super tram stops they are building.  It is like an obstacle course to rise on a bike.  So I was really cross when a Metlink official added salt to the wound by telling me to stop because the tram was slowing down.  Surely there is no new road law that requires bikes to slow down because a tram is slowing down.  I was even more annoyed because I wasn't riding dangerously when he told me to stop - he was just being an officious numpty!
  • Tonight I actually measured what the Australian Women's Weekly calls a lamington tin.  I had always thought a lamington tin was the same as a swiss roll tin. (A swiss roll is similar to a jelly roll but not the same as a jam roly poly).  According to the AWW it is actually the same as what I call a slice tin.  I checked with my ultimate authority - my mum - who made me even less sure because she says lamington tins are deeper.  I will have to do more research, but I am worried that maybe I have misled readers by referring to the wrong tin.  Maybe it is time to try my hand at making lamingtons!

I'd like to write more but it is late and we have a busy weekend ahead.  I am sure you too have read enough so I will finish up by wishing you a good weekend.

Previously on Green Gourmet Giraffe:
This time last year: Why Does Food History Matter?
This time two years ago: Honest soup inspired by a Farmers Market
This time three years ago: Curried Cauli, Spinach and Peanut Soup
This time four years ago: NCR Moody Mushroom Stew

Zucchini Layer Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting
Adapted from Allrecipes
  • 160g coconut sugar (or other sugar)
  • 105ml vegetable oil (I used canola)
  • 3 tablespoons ground linseeds (flax seeds)
  • 2 tbsp chia seeds
  • 300g zucchini, grated
  • 50g sultanas 
  • 50g dried cranberries
  • 50g chopped pistachios
  • 125g plain flour (I used half white, half wholemeal)
  • 1 and 1/2 tsp mixed spice
  • 1 and 1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 2 and 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 2 tbsp milk (optional) 
For the cream cheese frosting:
  • 150g cream cheese (I used tofutti cream cheese), at room temperature
  • 75g butter, at room temperature
  • 500g icing sugar
  • Zest of 2 limes, and the juice of half a lime
  • extra lime zest, nuts and dried fruit, to decorate
Heat oven to 160 C.  Grease and line two 20cm round cake tins.

Mix sugar and oil.  It will look rather dry.  Add linseeds, chia seeds and grated zucchini.  Set aside for a few minutes while you prepare remaining ingredients.  The zucchini will release liquids and the mixture will become quite thin.

Stir in remaining ingredients  in order of the list.  The mixture should be a batter that will fall slowly from a wooden spoon.  Add a little milk only if it needs some loosening up.

Spoon into prepared tins and bake for 35 minutes until cakes are springy and a skewer comes out clean.  Cool cakes in tins.

Make cream cheese frosting by beating cream cheese and butter with electric beaters until smooth.  Gradually add in the icing sugar and then the lime zest and juice.  You want to get a consistency that is firm but spreadable.

Turn out one cake onto a serving plate.  Spread with about half the frosting, or as much as you need.  Turn out the second cake, position on top of the frosted cake and spread with remaining frosting.  (I had some frosting leftover.)  Decorate with lime zest, nuts and fruit as desired.

30 comments:

  1. That sounds a very healthy recipe Johanna.

    For some reason I find that green food colouring is as never as "strong" as many others. Gel or liquid.

    In my parents' town there is some "shared space" no road markings or pavements. It is an accident waiting to happen!

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    1. Thanks Helen - it is fairly healthy - probably just as good without the frosting which would make it far more healthy. I think I used liquid food colouring for the first version of the cake (in the second photo) and it was really green but I would like to try spinach again as Cindy got a great green colour from spinach for some icecream she brought to the same potluck.

      The new tram stops have made the space for cyclists less obvious but at least they have been slightly improved since the first tram stop went in.

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  2. an interesting cake indeed!

    and i cant believe that tram interaction! how strange and frustrating!

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    1. Thanks Lisa - the tram interaction was very odd - the idea that I would slow down every time a tram does is just crazy

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  3. i agree with your mum - lamington tin is a deeper slice tin.

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    1. Thanks Steph - will need to look further into lamington tins - always thought I had one and now am not so sure

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  4. I love zucchini cake - zucchini baked anything actually - so it was interesting to read your experiences and challenges with getting one that matched what you were looking for. This certainly looks pretty great to me! Interesting musings / questions, too, and interesting about the lamington tin. I am so ignorant as to the 'proper' tin sizes and the like that I keep intending to look them all up, but don't seem to get around to it...

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    1. Thanks Kari - I've always loved zucchini cake so it is strange that this seems to be the first zucchini cake I have ever blogged! I've just blogged some info about tin sizes that I have been meaning to blog for a while because I do spend too much time on measurements.

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  5. I love the sound of this cake! I'm always up for sneaking vegetables into baked goods. And yes, sylvia is quite right. Why DON'T cars drive on grass? Strange.

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    1. Thanks Joanne - I love vegetables in baked goods too! As for why cars don't go on the grass, there are so many answers but I like to say: because it is too bumpy! Then I wait for Sylvia to ask "Why" again :-)

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  6. I love it that you measured the tin - glad it's not just me who finds these seemingly simple tasks impossible to get done! Speaking of which, I really must go and do some weeding before the sun goes. But I have been thinking about your blog a lot lately as the Small Girl's third birthday is fast approaching - how on earth did you get the time for three cakes?!

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    1. Thanks Lucy - it is all the little details that make a seemingly simple taste take forever. Three birthday cakes got done here with lots of planning, simple recipes, three different days to bake them, and some time after the birthday to collapse and regroup - good luck with small girl's birthday!

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  7. Interesting post GGG! I tried a wonderful zucchini cake recently that I am desperate to try and recreate, however, I just have zero time at the moment. Please stay tuned! This sounds fabulous with the inclusion of all those edible jewels: cranberries, pistachios, sultanas and spice. Would absolutely love to try this cake!

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    1. Thanks Hazel - would love to send you a piece of cake - but it is of course long gone - good luck with finding a zucchini cake like the one you had!

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  8. Sounds like a really interesting cake, even if it wasn't quite what you wanted. I often wonder who found out that certain things were edible - or that they were made edible by cooking.

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    1. Thanks Caroline - definitely a mystery - I wonder if our ancestors were more or less adventurous in what they ate - I imagine in times of famine they got more inventive!

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  9. Glad you finally got a version of the cake you were happy with - it sounds really good. Shame about the spinach, I really like the idea. I did come across a Turkish spinach cake which was dark green at a market in Truro - I posted a picture of it on my blog for the WSC green theme I think.

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    1. Thanks Choclette - ooh a turkish spinach cake sounds bizarre - I really like the idea of spinach to make cakes green - after all it works in a smoothie without the taste bothering me so it must be a matter of just being brave and putting lots in like Cindy did with her green ice cream

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  10. I thought this cake was lovely. The spinach is a good idea, even if it didn't pan out as you might have hoped.

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    1. Thanks Cakelaw - yes the spinach definitely needs more experiments (and courage!)

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  11. I loved the cranberries and pistachios in this cake!

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    1. Thanks Cindy - it actually made me wonder why I don't use pistachios much because they were very good

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  12. so lovely! I always enjoy your posts Johanna! So full of life.

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  13. Hmmm out of the mouths of babes! And I was actually just saying to hubby the other day why isn't there a show where people interview kids instead of adults?

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    1. Thanks Lorraine - if there was a young kids talk show the kids would sit there saying why, why, why - perhaps it could be a competition to see who could outlast the whys :-)

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  14. I loved how moist this cake was! The pistachios, dried fruit and mixed spice were really nice in it too.

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    1. Thanks Mel - well I guess very moist is better than too dry - just would have been nice not to have to eat it with a spoon :-)

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  15. Johanna I'm intrigued by the coconut sugar... and love all the other ingredients in this cake. I'd happily have a whole hunk of that.
    9.15am .... too early for cake?

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  16. Thanks Bridie - coconut sugar is great in cakes because it gives that caramelly flavour a bit like brown sugar (but apparently is more nutritious) - never too early for cake with nuts and dried fruit - that is just breakfast cereal isn't it :-)

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