- Prep time 15 minutes
- Cook time 35 minutes
- makes 1 (9x9-inch) cake
Sometimes I take zucchini bread into cake territory by dousing the surface in a generous coating of cinnamon sugar before baking. In the oven, some of the sugar melts onto the surface of the cake, and some forms a delicious crackly layer on top that I’m obsessed with. Seriously—it makes this frosting lover wonder: Who even needs buttercream? For a recipe this simple, I typically don’t futz with the extra step of squeezing excess moisture out of the zucchini. But if you do, you can use nearly double the amount, which is wonderful during peak garden/CSA times. Start with 3½ packed cups (595 grams) and toss with ¼ teaspoon of kosher salt. Drain the zucchini for 1 hour in a strainer set over a bowl, tossing occasionally, then press down with your hands to help encourage the moisture out. Wrap the zucchini in a clean kitchen towel and squeeze firmly to remove as much moisture as you can before adding to the cake as directed below. You can also bake this in a 9x5-inch loaf pan (and we did for our recent episode of "Bake It Up a Notch"!) for 60 to 70 minutes, but the cinnamon-sugar topping is a bit messier to slice and eat (though just as delicious). —Erin Jeanne McDowell
Test Kitchen Notes
Bake It Up a Notch is a column by Resident Baking BFF Erin Jeanne McDowell. Each month, she'll help take our baking game to the next level, teaching us all the need-to-know tips and techniques and pointing out all the mistakes to avoid along the way. —The Editors
(50 grams) granulated sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons
(5 grams) ground cinnamon, divided
(160 grams) light or dark brown sugar
(85 grams) unsalted butter, melted
(60 grams) vegetable oil or other neutral oil
large (113 grams) eggs, room temperature
1 1/2 teaspoons
(7 grams) vanilla extract
1 3/4 cups
(210 grams) all-purpose flour
40 grams) whole-wheat flour
(6 grams) baking soda
(3 grams) fine sea salt
packed cups (340 grams) coarsely grated zucchini
- Heat the oven to 350°F. Lightly grease a 9x9-inch pan with cooking spray.
- In a small bowl, stir the granulated sugar and ½ teaspoon (2 grams) of the cinnamon to combine; set aside.
- In a large bowl, whisk the brown sugar, butter, and oil. Add the eggs one at a time, whisking to incorporate after each addition. Add the vanilla and stir to combine.
- Add the all-purpose flour, whole-wheat flour, baking soda, salt, and remaining 1 teaspoon (3 grams) of the cinnamon. Using a silicone spatula, gently mix until well combined. Add the zucchini and fold into the batter until fully incorporated.
- Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Sprinkle the reserved cinnamon sugar evenly over the surface—be generous; the idea is to use it all.
- Place on a baking sheet, if desired, and bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until a tester inserted into the center comes out clean or with a few moist crumbs attached. If the loaf is browning too quickly, tent the pan with foil for the remainder of the bake time.
- Let the cake cool in the pan before slicing and serving.