Monday, 23 September 2013

Zucchini Pistachio Spice Cake With Lime Frosting

I know what you’re thinking. Is this food blogger a bag lady in disguise? Did she scatter birdseeds all over a cake that was served to her vertebrate guests? Yes, it’s true; the Central Park Pigeon Lady from Home Alone 2 has a strong desire for baked goods.

This is a mildly spiced zucchini (and I’m only calling it that because how fugly does courgette sound/look/read next to zucchini? Plus I love Italian food, so I think this grants me access to their terminology) cake studded with chunks of pistachio and the dust that accumulated from chopping said chunks, mixed with ground almonds.

If, for some reason, you let me blindfold you and then force-fed you a forkful of this alongside a forkful of carrot cake, my guess is that you would think you were eating from the same slice of cake.

The same slice of carrot cake.

After several bites, I was still unable to trace any zucchini flavour with my fag ash taste buds. I think that’s the beauty of zucchini, it adds a slight health factor (Vitamin A) to your afternoon tea accompaniment  (before you attack it with frosting) yet gracefully conceals itself behind competitive flavours. In this case: the all spice.

This cake is made for carrot cake enthusiasts and anyone whose willing to try something a little odd, albeit refreshing.

Zucchini Pistachio Spice Cake With Lime Frosting

Adapted from Delicious Magazine's Baking Special 


85ml sunflower oil, or any flavourless oil
220g caster sugar
3 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
75g unsalted pistachios, finely and roughly chopped
60g ground almonds
3 zucchinis/courgettes grated & excess water squeezed out
1 tsp all spice
Pinch of salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
225g self raising flour
75g plain flour

Frosting & Decoration
180g unsalted butter, softened
300g icing sugar
250g cream cheese, chilled
Zest and juice of 1 lime
100g unsalted, unshelled pistachios, sliced into slivers

Note: To de-skin pistachios, immerse them in boiling hot water and leave to stand for half an hour. The skins will slide off, it will feel like a hot knife in butter. You will enjoy the next hour removing the skins with your fingers. 

The Method

Make the cakes. Line two 6 inch tins with baking paper. Preheat the oven to 170 C.

Whisk oil, sugar, egg and vanilla with electric whisk until thick and pale in colour. Stir in both nuts, zucchini, salt and all spice. Sift over the flours and baking soda and whisk until just combined. Pour the mixture evenly into both tins. Bake for 1 hour 20 minutes. The cakes will still be a little moist - they're baked through if they spring back when you touch them. Leave to cool in the tins for 20 minutes and then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Make the frosting and then try to make the cake look like it came out of a semi pro's kitchen. Beat butter and icing sugar for 5 minutes until very pale and fluffy. Gradually add cream cheese whilst beating, followed by lime juice and zest. Continue to beat until you have an off white cloud of frosting. If its not thick enough, add a teaspoon of cornflour. If its still not thick enough, add more icing sugar. And then read this post if its still not thick enough.

Place a 6 inch piece of cardboard underneath one of the cakes and place that on top of a turntable, or on a plate. Scoop 3 tablespoons of icing on top of the cake and evenly spread across the whole top. Place 2nd cake on top of icing. Scoop 4 tablespoons of icing on top and evenly spread across the top, this time, let the icing fall to the sides of the cake. Coat all of the sides. Place cake in the freezer for 20 minutes. Ice the cake again with the remaining icing. Scatter pistachios over the top. The cake will keep for 3 days.
Other zucchini recipes that are worth drooling over/making:

Poires Au Chocolat's Chocolate Courgette Cake (this one will take ya breath away)
TWC's Zucchini Spaghetti (this instantly reminds me of 'spagetti oops' from Mighty Boosh)
Chocolate Covered Katie's Fudge Brownies which boast a disgustingly low calorie count

Thank you to my best friend, hand model & sister, Love Em xx


  1. this looks so damn good, I want! xx

    Martyna | NEON MIZZLE

  2. Elizabeth - SugarHero.com23 September 2013 23:34

    I agree that layer cakes are kind of the worst to photograph--why so tall and unwieldy, cakes?! But I disagree that these photos are lacking--they're gorgeous! I'm a weirdo who loves zucchini (and pistachios!) in my desserts, so these are right up my alley.

  3. Wow, this looks absolutely inspired. I want a piece for breakfast!

  4. What a pretty cake! I've made bread with courgette (zucchini!) but never cake...will have to give it a go.

  5. Jessica @ Desserts w/ Benefits24 September 2013 19:54

    What BEAUTIFUL pictures.... I don't even like pistachios or zucchini but your photographs are so pretty and the cake is styled so perfectly, I WANT THIS IN MY FACE.
    Your frosting skills are perfect, I don't know what you're talking about ;)

  6. I was actually about to say how much I liked your photos! Certainly no photographic downturn in this post. Definitely looking forward to more layer cakes :)

    I keep meaning to try courgette/zucchini cake. I'm a carrot cake fan so it definitely sounds like something I'll like.

  7. I love how you have called yourself a weirdo for liking fruit & nut in your dessert! haaaaa. they are the WORST. and do you know whats the worst part about it? whenyou *think* you have taken an okay picture, and then on photoshop you realise that its wonky and theres no way to make it better! ergh.

  8. Haha thank you! I was so tempted to use salted pistachios for this cake, I just thought - how terrible must pistachios taste without salt?! But i think the sweetness from the frosting makes up for the lack of salt. Next a pistachio zucchini salad!...(not)

  9. Just you wait Jo...there certainly will be a downturn! What layer cake should I try next? I'm lost for ideas at the moment!

  10. Great post on cake decorations. I had tried many time by following some of blogs like you posted above. Again wondering to try this.

    Will see what will happen again.

  11. This cake is just gorgeous! The frosting and the nuts on top are perfectly done. Glad I found you and excited to keep following! :) (Also, in re: the comments on taking bad photos, YES!!!! Like when I take a picture on my camera and it looks fine on the tiny screen, then on the computer suddenly I realize the focus is wrong or it's blurry or whatever else and then I just feel like throwing things everywhere.)

  12. Thank you! Excited to have you here :) I know that feeling all too well, I really wish I had the brains to connect my camera to laptop so I can use the laptop screen as the viewfinder! This whole photography thing is so frustrating. Who would have thought?!

  13. Whoa whoa work at a cake decorating school? Can I please have your life? And also, may I have several slices of this cake??

  14. I do! It's quite a bit of fun :) You could have had a whole half if it was still arms reach !

  15. What is the conversion amounts. I do not know grams to cups or tablespoon, etc

  16. Hi Lynn,
    I have a conversions section in my menu, look at the top left hand of the blog!


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