By Michelle Railey
A summer rerun from June, 2014.
I do not have any tomatoes from the garden yet. Stop asking. What I do have are squash. And what I have even more of than ordinary yellow squash are zucchini squash. It’s an abundance of riches, so long as by “riches,” one means “zucchini.”
And, what oh what, is one to do with so many zucchini? You can grate them, coat them in bread crumbs and parmesan and sauté them in olive oil with salt, pepper, and garlic. You can slice them and grill them or fry them or roast them. One guesses you could pickle them. Or toss them, gift-wise, into the neighbor’s yard.
But, oh my god, all of these things require effort and none of these things results in cake.
What’s a girl to do?
A girl should do the following: grate two small zucchini, add chocolate, and make herself a cake. Cake!
So, that’s just what this girl did. And as luck would have it, it turns out to be ridiculously good and requires almost zero work (that’s right; like, practically none, and you end up with cake). In fact, this dumb veggie cake is the best cake I have ever baked (in fairness, basically all prior cakes have come from boxes. Don’t judge me, internets.) First, here is the original link for the recipe for this freaking delicious chocolate zucchini cake. As I have made small changes to it, I will give you the recipe here (in translation-ish), with a short description and all relevant thoughts on the recipe to follow, but don’t think I invented this cake. If I had, I would be a genius.
Combine all of the following in a big-ass bowl: 2 cups flour, 1 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon baking powder, 2 teaspoons baking soda, 1 tablespoon cinnamon, 4 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa, 3 eggs, 2 cups sugar, 1 cup oil, 1 tablespoon vanilla, 2 cups grated zucchini, and 1 cup nuts.
Mix well but don’t get too fussy about it. You don’t need the beater for this. You just need to not see big clumps of unintegrated powder. It doesn’t take long.
Pour batter into a pre-greased 13″x9″ baking dish.
Shove into an oven you have pre-heated to 350 degrees (Fahrenheit. Obviously.)
Bake for 50 minutes or until cake passes the toothpick test.
That is literally it.
Here are my personalizations to this cake recipe: (1) Eliminate the nuts. Nuts are gross. Leave them in if you’re a squirrel or if you like them, but I wouldn’t do that if I were you. (2) Grate just a little too much zucchini and put it in the batter anyway. (3) Add just a smidge of chili powder to the batter. Seriously. (4) When you put the cake in the oven, sing to it just a little bit. The cake seems to like it. I recommend the song “We’re making cake” or the very similar song “Hurry up, cake.” (You can shimmy, but like the nuts, this is optional.) (5) You can coach the cake but try not to scream at it or make it feel like it’s taking too long. Remember, you put practically no effort into this and at the end of all this non-work, you still get to eat cake. You can afford to be gracious.
This recipe makes really, really good cake. It is not the world’s most beautiful cake. But it is luscious and the perfect balance of sweet and rich but not too much of either. And if you take a sip of even really bad coffee right after eating a big forkful, you will think you have died and gone to heaven.
Next time I make this really good cake, I’m upping the chili powder and adding a little coffee. I might consider making one with either butterscotch chips or chocolate chips, just for the heck of it. But this recipe is so good, I also think it would be possible to eliminate the cocoa powder and make a version with citrus peel and ginger. And I might just make a zillion more cakes just like this one. Because, as it turns out, this is a damn fine cake.
It’s a good thing I have all this zucchini.