I came home from work Monday knowing that this week was going to be an uphill battle. Not only did I have several things planned after work but my entire work calendar was blocked out for meetings, due dates for projects, and a lengthy IT overhaul of my office electronics. If Monday was any predictor of how this week was going to go, cake was the only option.
A Monday night cake has to be simple. No sifting, no adding ingredients in thirds, no separating egg yolks. This cake only requires a whisk (or spatula), a bowl or two, and one cake pan. Sure, the frosting is an extra step but you have so much time between baking and cooking the cake whipping up a cinnamon buttercream is no big deal.
It's an added bonus that this cake's star ingredients are zucchini and pecans. (Readers, does this sound familiar?) Knowing this, you can convince yourself that you are eating a healthy cake. And if it's so healthy, why not just skip dinner altogether and just have cake. You deserve it.
Zucchini-Pecan Cake with Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting
recipe adapted from Bon Appetit August 2010
*note--I inadvertently doubled the amount of cream cheese from the original recipe and I did think it was a lot of icing for a little cake, but after the day I'd had, the more icing the better. You can opt to cut the amount of icing in half if you'd prefer more flavor of the butter and less flavor (and amount) of cream cheese. This cake could also easily be doubled to make a two-tier cake.
Ingredients for the cake
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp coarse kosher salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
3/4 cup olive oil
1 cup packed dark brown sugar
3 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups coarsely grated zucchini
3/4 cup chopped pecans, plus 2 tbsp of whole or half pecans for serving
Ingredients for the frosting
8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
3 tbsp unsalted butter, room temperature
3/4 cup powdered sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp cinnamon
Position the rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees F. Coat a 9-inch round cake pan with 2 inch sides with non-stick spray. If you have parchment paper, you can cut a piece of parchment paper to fit into the bottom of the round and spray that with non-stick spray. I did not have the parchment and the cake came out of my pan with no issues.
Whisk together flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg in a bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk oil, sugar, eggs, and vanilla in large bowl to blend well. Fold in the flour mixture, then fold in the zucchini and pecans. Transfer batter to the prepared cake pan.
Bake cake for about 45 minutes, or a toothpick can be inserted into the middle and come out clean. Cool cake completely on wire rack, about 1 hour. Cut around the sides of the cake with a clean knife to loosen cake from the pan and turn out onto a serving platter. If you used the parchment paper, remove it now.
Using an electric mixer, beat cream cheese and butter until blended. Beat in sugar, vanilla, and cinnamin. Spread frosting over cake. Sprinkle additional pecans on top for serving.