Sunday, 26 August 2007

zucchini & pistachio spice cake w lime frosting

Vicky and Roberto came over for dinner, before Roberto headed to Osaka to cover the World Athletics’ Championships, and I cooked three dishes that I’d never made before. I know it’s risky to cook new dishes for an audience, but the only time I get to cook with meat is when Jonas is working and friends come over.

We had a fun time and Roberto brought over his new camera and fancy lens to try out some foodie photos. We had fun taking snap shots of each dish as we prepared it, although I'm sure Vicky was annoyed that we took so long before we could eat.

I made a salad of mixed lettuce, chorizo and bocconccini and then olive crusted veal cutlets, which were soooooooo good. For dessert I made this weird and wonderful Zucchini & Pistachio Spice Cake.

I subscribe to Delicious Magazine and so I’ve been eyeing this recipe for some time now. When I first saw it I was a bit unsure of how zucchini would taste in a cake but the entire concept excited me as a new version of the old carrot and walnut cake. I just had to try it out.

The verdict:
The cake has a light, spicy flavour to it and since the zucchini adds no flavour at all, it must be there to provide moisture and flecks of verdant colour.

I ground the pistachio nuts in my coffee grinder, which gave me both nut chunks for texture as well as a fine meal that gave the cake a lovely pale green colour.

Tiny green threads of lime zest are visible in the fluffy icing and the lime juice just cuts right through the richness of the cream cheese.

I highly recommend this cake. The flavour is great and the concept has a bit of a wow factor. I will definitely make it again.

Zucchini & Pistachio Spice Cake w Lime Frosting

Recipe from Delicious Magazine (February 2007). Serves 10-12.


¾ cup (185ml) sunflower oil
1 cup (220g) caster sugar
3 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
½ cup (75g) unsalted pistachios, finely chopped
½ cup (60g) almond meal
2 cups grated zucchini (approx. 3 medium sized)
1 tsp ground cardamom
1 tsp ground mixed spice
½ tsp bicarbonate soda
1½ cups (225g) self-raising flour
½ cup (75g) plain flour
Lime frosting
180 g unsalted butter, softened
1¼ cups (200 g) icing sugar, sifted
250 g cream cheese, softened, chopped
Finely grated zest and juice of 1 lime
¼ cup (35 g) slivered unsalted pistachios to decorate

1. Preheat oven to 170°C.
2. Grease a 22 cm spring-form pan and line base and sides with baking paper.
3. Using an electric mixer beat the oil, sugar, eggs and vanilla until thick.
4. Stir in nuts, meal, zucchini and spices.
5. Sift over soda and flours, and stir to combine.
6. Pour into pan and bake for 70 min or until a skewer inserted in centre comes out clean.
7. Cool in pan for 20 min, then turn onto a wire rack and cool completely.
8. For frosting, use electric beaters to beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
9. Gradually add cheese, beating well between additions.
10. Add zest and beat until smooth
11. Using a bread knife, slice the cake into two rounds and set aside top.
12. Spread a third of the frosting over the bottom half, replace the top and spread cake with remaining frosting.
13. Decorate with slivered pistachios.
Note: I halved the butter content in the icing. It just seemed like way too much butter.

I think it’s so interesting to see how the English language diverges in the various countries around the world. You can learn so much about the history of an object by the etymology of a word.

For instance, in the US and Australia it was clearly the Italians (zucchini) that introduced this squash into our diets, whereas in the Brits have the French (courgette) to thank.

This is quite funny because all squash actually had their origins in the Americas, which meant squash was transported to Europe, mutated into the green form we know today (in northern Italy) and then transported back to the USA by Italian migrants. Full circle.

In Italian, zucchini means “little zucche” and a zucca is a pumpkin or squash. This works the same in French as courgette means “little courge” and a courge is a squash.

Zucchini (Cucurbita pepo) are small so-called ‘summer’ squash which can be yellow, dark green or light green. They look similar to cucumbers, although some can be bottle shaped and are particularly good for stuffing (the Lebanese do this wonderfully).

Even though we all eat zucchini as a veggie, it’s technically an immature fruit. Apparently, the edible flowers can be both male and female, but it’s the female flowers that appear on the end of baby zucchini, whereas the male flowers grow from the stem.

Zucchini can actually be eaten raw and are lovely grated thin in cold Thai-style salads in lieu of green mango or green papaya.

They’re good for us too, being low in calories and high in folate, potassium, vitamin A and manganese, which boosts your metabolism and helps to burn fat.

The Weekend Herb Blogging host for this week is Scott from the Real Epicurean, an environmentally friendly food blog. Visit Scott for the recap.




  1. Pretty cake! I like the pistachio/almond with the courgette. Something else I can do with my ever growing supply.
    And the "Lime Frosting" - I'd make the cake just for that!

  2. Just gorgeous. I had just written about zucchini bread and cake for Blogher today, and when I saw this one I had to add it!

  3. Yum! My mum made this cake a little while ago - she must have got it from delicious too. I love the combination of the zucchini, nuts and lime.

  4. Oh wow! This looks completely lovely and I adore zucchini bread so I bet this cake is awesome! Great job!

  5. I love this mix of flavors and try soon to make a vegan version.
    When english isn't your mother language, variations of words for a same thing, is so complicated... I appreciate your searches.

  6. Oh Anna! That cake is so tempting! I can almost taste it and boy does it taste good! :):) I bet it's so tender it almost melts in your mouth. Sigh.

  7. I make a chocolate and zucchini cake that's really good, but pistachios and lime sound like a great change for me, I like it!


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