About ten or fifteen years ago, when Bob & I were still living in the house in Arleta, he had a few bumper crops of vegetables—in particular was the crop of zucchinis; they seemed to go from a nice supermarket-style length to the size of a newborn baby over night. (In fact, I once took a big zucchini to work wrapped in a baby blanket to give to a co-worker as a joke. But those giant zucchinis are no joking matter!
Last year, Kelly’s yellow summer squash took over in Kelly’s garden—it was impossible to keep up with them. Last June, I went to a surprise birthday party for my girlfriend Mary Jaynne that was held in a restaurant so I put a squash in each of twenty paper lunch bags, with “door prize” written on the bags with a Sharpee pen. I gave away all twenty squashes and could have given away twenty more! Home grown vegetables are greatly appreciated by those who don’t have a vegetable garden. I suggested to my son that he plant zucchini seeds this year and so he did. So far I have baked two zucchini cakes and six zucchini breads. I have a ton of zucchini recipes (in fact, including a cookbook titled “500 Zucchini Recipes”—not to mention a recipe box filled to overflowing with zucchini recipes I have collected for many years.
I have a lot more recipes to experiment with; a penpal wrote that her mother always used some zucchini as filler in canning recipes—like mushrooms, zucchini takes on the flavor of whatever you cook it with. I am about to try a zucchini jam and a zucchini marmalade recipe—meantime, let me share some of my favorite “vegetable” bread and cake recipes with you.
Everyone knows how good carrot cake is—I don’t have to tell you that. I will tell you that a homemade carrot cake is ten times (or more) better than any carrot cake mix (unless you doctor it, which I HAVE done when I was trying to get a carrot cake baked in a hurry).
My best carrot cake recipe was given to me by someone at Beachy Avenue School back in the day when my two youngest sons were in the primary grades at Beachy School (in Arleta). It was featured in the Beachy Avenue School cookbook, “Recipe Roundup” which the PTA published in 1971.
When my girlfriend Rosalia’s daughter, Adena, was getting married, I was asked to make two cakes—one “the 14 carat” carrot cake Let me tell you, getting a carrot cake—with a cup and a half of cooking oil in the cake mix—frosted is no easy matter. I put about three or four layers of frosting on the cake to get it covered.
So, in memory of the Beachy Avenue PTA’s cookbook, “Recipe Roundup”, here is Barbara Augustus’ “14” Carat Cake—still a great recipe if you are not intimidated by the amount of cooking oil that was in many of our recipes back in the day—when we didn’t know anything about fat grams:
“14” Carat Cake
2 cups carrots, (finely grated)
2 cups flour
2 cups granulated sugar
1 ½ cups cooking oil (nowadays I use Canola oil)
2 tsp baking powder
1 ½ tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
2 tsp ground cinnamon
¾ cup crushed pineapple (drained)
½ cup chopped nuts (walnuts or pecans, your choice) – optional
Mix all ingredients together and pour into a greased and floured 8×13 or 9×13 inch baking dish. Bake at 350 degrees 40-50 minutes.
(*Sandy’s cooknote – carrot cake is excellent with a cream cheese frosting which wasn’t featured with Barbara’s cake – but elsewhere in the cookbook is the following Cream Cheese frosting contributed by another Beachy PTA mother):
1 box powdered sugar (4 cups)
8 ounce package cream cheese (at room temp)
½ pound butter (2 sticks butter at room temp)
1 tsp vanilla extract
A little milk or evaporated milk to thin out as needed
Cream butter and cream cheese. Add vanilla. Beat in powdered sugar and add a little milk to thin for frosting texture.
My updated carrot cake version came from a Weight Watcher cookbook:
The really good WW carrot cake with frosting is yummy!
3 ½ cups all purpose flour
1 TBSP pumpkin pie spice
2 TSP baking powder
1 TSP baking soda
½ tsp salt
3 large eggs
1 cup plain fat free yogurt
1 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 cup packed light brown sugar (or ½ cup packed Splenda brown sugar)
½ cup canola oil
2 TBSP grated orange zest
1 TBSP vanilla extract
2 cups shredded carrot (about 3 medium)
1 cup golden raisins
1 (8 oz) pkg fat free cream cheese
3 oz light cream cheese
1 ½ cups powdered sugar
Preheat oven 375 Degrees. Spray a large rectangular baking dish with non fat spray and dust with flour. Combine flour, pumpkin pie spice, baking powder and baking soda, and salt in a medium size bowl.
With an electric mixer on high speed, beat eggs, yogurt, applesauce, brown sugar, oil, 1 tbsp of the orange zest, and vanilla in a large bowl until blended. With mixer on low speed add flour mix just until blended (2-3 mins). Stir in carrots and raisins. Pour into prepared pan. Bake until toothpick comes out clean (about 35 mins). Cool completely on a wire rack.
To make frosting, mix the cream cheeses and powdered sugar on high speed until blended. Add remaining 1 tbsp orange zest…spread over cake when the cake is completely cool.
To make zucchini cake, substitute shredded zucchini for the carrots.
From MY Turnaround Program Cookbook by Weight Watcher
5 points per serving.
The best chocolate zucchini cake recipe I have found is something of a mystery so I may rename it “Mystery Chocolate Zucchini Cake” because after I found it – and printed a copy for my files—I was unable to find it online again. This recipe originally appeared in Bon Appetit Magazine in 1995. This is the yummiest recipe – and you can play around with the added ingredients if you want—I usually substitute chopped pecans for the chopped walnuts because there are people in my life who can’t eat walnuts.
To make Mystery Chocolate Zucchini Cake you will need:
2 ¼ cups sifted all purpose flour
½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 ¾ cup sugar
2 large eggs (at room temperature)
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
½ cup cooking oil (such as Canola)
1 tsp vanilla extract
½ cup buttermilk
2 cups grated unpeeled zucchini (2 ½ medium*)
1 (6 oz) package (about 1 cup) semisweet chocolate chips)
¾ cup chopped nuts
Preheat oven 350 degrees. Butter and flour a 13x9x2” baking dish. Sift flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt into medium size bowl. Beat sugar, butter and cooking oil in a large bowl until well blended. Add eggs one at a time beating well after each addition. Beat in vanilla extract. Mix in dry ingredients alternately with the buttermilk in 3 additions each. Mix in grated zucchini. Pour batter into prepared pan. Sprinkle chocolate chips and nuts over the top. Bake cake until tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 50 minutes. Cool cake completely in pan.
(Sandra’s cooknote* the Zucchini you buy in the supermarket is a lot smaller than what will crop up in a home grown garden. I’ve found that half of one large zucchini will yield about two cups shredded zucchini. The zucchini pop up in the garden faster than anyone can use them in a recipe.
I really like a dark chocolate frosting on top of this cake—I have to confess, I have a plastic container of homemade chocolate frosting in the frig – ready to use whenever I need some of it. It’s still a good cake without frosting (some whipped cream on top makes a good dessert)
• 1/2 cup vegetable oil
• 1 1/2 cups white sugar
• 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
• 2 cups all-purpose flour
• 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
• 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
• 1 teaspoon salt
• 2 cups shredded zucchini
• 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
• 6 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
• 1/4 cup margarine
• 2 cups confectioners’ sugar
• 1/4 cup milk
• 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease and flour a 9×13 inch baking pan.
2. In a large bowl, mix together the oil, sugar and 2 teaspoons vanilla until well blended. Combine the flour, 1/2 cup cocoa, baking soda and salt; stir into the sugar mixture. Fold in the zucchini and walnuts. Spread evenly into the prepared pan. Bake until done. **
In my file box is a recipe for Broadway Zucchini Bread. The Broadway was an upscale department store for many years and one of the features at the downtown Los Angeles store was a tea room where the upscale ladies, after finishing their shopping (which they probably had delivered), could have lunch—or tea. It was where the Broadway Zucchini Bread was featured. This is a fairly simple recipe.
To make Broadway Zucchini Bread, you will need:
½ cup cooking oil (I use Canola)
1 cup sugar
1 cup grated unpeeled zucchini
1½ cups flour
1½ tsp ground cinnamon
¼ tsp baking soda
¼ tsp baking powder
Blend oil and sugar together. Beat eggs into mixture one at a time. Place grated zucchini in a separate bowl. Fold egg mixture into zucchini. Sift together flour, cinnamon, baking soda and baking powder. Gradually add flour mixture to zucchini mixture. Mix well. Pour batter into 2 greased 8×4” loaf pans. Bake at 325 degrees 1 hour. Makes 2.
CLIFF HOUSE ZUCCHINI BREAD
2 cups sugar
1 cup cooking oil
2 tsp vanilla
3 cups zucchini, peeled and grated and drained
1 8-oz cans crushed pineapple, drained
3 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
1 cup chopped walnuts
Beat together sugar and oil until blended. Beat in eggs, one at a time, until well blended. Beat in vanilla. Stir in zucchini and pineapple. Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Stir into zucchini mixture just until blended. Stir in nuts. Turn mixture into two greased 8×4” loaf pans. Bake at 350 degrees about one hour or until cake tester or toothpick inserted near center comes out clean. Cool slightly. Loosen sides of loaves from pan; remove and cool completely on wire racks before slicing. Makes 2 loaves.
(*Sandra’s Cooknote: Cliff House is a seaside hotel up the California coast, near Ventura. There are several Cliff Houses featured in Google; I think the one in Ventura is the recipe that appeared in the S.O.S. L.A. Times column in August of 1981 and is the recipe in my files. This is one of the few zucchini recipes in which the zucchini is peeled first.
I made a double batch of this recipe a few days ago—I had no idea that a double batch would produce so much zucchini bread! I’m giving loaves to friends!)
Zucchini Chocolate Cake
Here is another zucchini chocolate cake recipe from my files. I like this one due to the grated orange peel and a little nutmeg. Much as I like cinnamon, nutmeg imparts another delicate flavor to whatever you are baking. To make this zucchini chocolate cake you will need:
2 cups flour
1 tsp EACH baking powder, baking soda, and cinnamon,
½ tsp each nutmeg and salt
1/4 cup cocoa
1 tsp each vanilla extract and grated orange peel
2 cups sugar
1/2 cup canola oil
3/4 cup buttermilk
2 cups shredded unpeeled zucchini (3 or 4 small or half of a large one)
1 cup walnuts or pecans
Use shredded raw or pureed cooked zucchini (gives a finer texture) Preheat oven 350.
Stir together flour, baking powder, baking soda, spices and cocoa and set aside.
In large bowl beat eggs very light. Gradually add sugar and beat until fluffy and pale ivory in color. Slowly beat in oil.
Stir in flour mixture alternately with buttermilk and zucchini. Blend well. Add nuts (if using). Put into sheet cake pan or 2 9″ layer cake pans. Bake 350 40-45 minutes for layers, 1 hr for sheet. Layers: fill and frost with icing. Sheet cake: while warm drizzle with orange glaze.
GLAZE: Stir in bowl, 1 cup powdered sugar, 5 tsp orange juice, 1 tsp shredded orange peel and 1 TBSP hot melted butter. **
You may be tired of reading zucchini recipes, especially if you don’t have a bumper crop growing in your garden—but I want to share one more recipe for zucchini muffins.
To make Zucchini Muffins you will need:
3 cups grated zucchini
1 ½ cups cooking oil
3 cups flour
3 cups sugar
½ tsp salt
1 ½ tsp baking powder
1 ½ tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground allspice
½ tsp nutmeg
1 cup chopped nuts
Combine ingredients in a large bowl in order given. Mix until just blended. Turn into 30 well greased or paper lined muffin cups. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes* or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.
(Sandy’s cooknote* The recipe says bake for 45 minutes. I would check on them after 30 minutes and if you can, switch the muffin pans- top to bottom and bottom to top, so they bake evenly). **
Red Beet Chocolate Cake Recipe
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
3 large eggs
1 cup vegetable oil
1 1/2 cups cooked and pureed fresh beets
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Sifted powdered sugar for sprinkling
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Butter a 9 by 13-inch cake pan and set aside.
Mix together the flour, salt, and baking soda and set aside. Combine the sugar, eggs, and oil in a large bowl. Stir vigorously (those who use electric mixers can use one here on medium speed for 2 minutes). Beat in the beets, melted chocolate, and vanilla.
Gradually add the dry ingredients to the beet mixture, beating well after each addition. Pour into the prepared pan. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean, 40 to 45 minutes. Cool in the pan. Cover and let stand overnight to improve the flavor. Sprinkle with powdered sugar.
Let the cake cool completely and store in a sealed container or cake safe. This cake will stay fresh for 3 to 4 days. Serves 8 to 12
This recipe turned up in a Grit magazine, which I have been subscribing to even though many of the articles are about things like raising chickens which I haven’t figured out will go with two dogs and a cat. Years ago we raised chickens at the Arleta house & it was wonderful until dogs managed to get into the chicken coop and killed all of my laying hens.
I am about to try a recipe for making a mock apple pie using the zucchini slices as a substitute for the apples. I’ll let you know how this one turns out!
—Sandra Lee Smith