It’s been nearly four years since I first ate this cake and I haven’t been able to get it out of my mind since then. I remember thinking it was the best chocolate cake I’d ever had. I remember thinking there was something special about it. I remember wondering if this new friend who we were visiting had made it herself and if she were the type to share recipes. And I remember the incredulity I felt when she told me that the “something special” was zucchini. Really? Zucchini? I never would have guessed. I also never would have guessed that she makes it entirely with whole wheat flour. Really? And it’s not a brick? I thought there must be some magic involved. So even after she gave me the recipe, I was a little bit nervous to try my hands at the cake lest they proved themselves less able than my friend’s. I didn’t want to ruin the magic.
But the pull of the cake was too strong. I needed to be sure I hadn’t imagined it. So I took the plunge and made it myself. And, miraculously, it lived up to my memories of it. Or maybe not so miraculously. Maybe it is just a really good cake with a really easy recipe that anyone can follow. Maybe you should try it. I think you should. If you do, invite me over. Please? I wouldn’t mind another slice.
Amy’s Zucchini Fudge Cake
This can be a 3 or 4 layer cake — I did a 3 layer cake. I only have 2 cake pans, so I baked 2 layers, then refilled one of the pans and baked the last layer separately.
2 1/4 cups sugar
2 tsp. vanilla
3/4 cup butter (1 1/2 sticks), softened
3 cups flour (all-purpose is fine, my friend uses 100% whole wheat, I did half and half since I was a little nervous about it turning into a brick — next time I’ll go all whole wheat)
1/2 cup cocoa
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
3/4 tsp. salt
1 cup buttermilk
3 cups shredded zucchini
1 cup walnuts or pecans, finely chopped (optional)
Preheat oven to 350. Grease and flour your round cake pans. (I grease the pans, then line the bottoms with a circle of foil or parchment paper, and then grease the foil/parchment and flour the whole pan. The layers come out really easily every time.) In a large bowl, beat eggs until fluffy. Add sugar gradually, beat until pail and yellow. Beat in vanilla and butter. In a smaller bowl, whisk together flour, cooa, powder, soda and salt. Stir 1/2 of dry ingredients into the egg mixture. Add buttermilk and mix. Stir in the rest of the dry ingredients. Fold in zucchini and nuts (if using).
Divide into 4 cake pans. Bake for 20-25 minutes for 3 layers, 16-18 minutes for 4 layers. (Be sure to test with a toothpick before you take them out of the oven — the toothpick should come out clean.) Let cool in the pans for a few minutes, then invert them onto cooling racks to cool completely before frosting.
Billy’s Chocolate Buttercream from Martha Stewart
Half this recipe and you will have just enough frosting for the cake.
2 cups (4 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
12 ounces semisweet chocolate, melted and cooled
3 tablespoons milk
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
5 cups confectioners’ sugar
Beat butter until smooth and creamy, 2 to 3 minutes. With mixer on low speed, add chocolate until just combined. Add milk, vanilla, and sugar; mix on medium until well combined, being careful not to overmix.