This easy cake is a great way to use those abundant summer zucchini. It has a crunchy cinnamon streusel that you'll want more of and the crumb is fluffy and bursting with grated zucchini. It keeps very well for several days and needs no more than a simple glaze or a dusting of powdered sugar. A simple recipe that can be adapted to different types of cake pans.
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Originally posted in September 2012, I'm updating the images and text to serve you better. I slightly tweaked the recipe so it's simpler and tastes better!
I'm very serious about my love for bundt cakes and I posted this old-fashioned zucchini bundt cake years ago. So many that I had forgotten about it. It was time for an upgrade.
It's that time of year when summer rolls around and some ingredients start appearing everywhere. How do you manage the overflow of zucchini for example?
I usually make this zucchini bread with pineapple to start the season. Several loaves that I freeze and give to the rest of the family. But I'm always in the search of new zucchini recipes.
Why this recipe works
- Easy and moist: cake recipes with oil come together quickly and this one is no exception. And the shredded zucchini adds extra moisture too.
- Simplicity: I believe one of the greatest appeals of a bundt cake is that it's simple. Even when it's studded with whatever and has a glaze on top, it still can be considered simple.
- Different types of cake: take this cake recipe and bake it in layers with a cream cheese filling and frosting. Or use a tube cake pan, similar to a bundt but with a flat top and no pattern. Or make a sheet cake, top with cream cheese frosting and you have a zucchini dessert for a gathering.
- Uses: it makes a good gift, a good pair for afternoon tea or morning coffee, for a brunch or a picnic.
- Make ahead: it can be made a day or two in advance because it keeps very well. Or be kept frozen for a month (without the glaze is my recommendation unless you're freezing leftovers).
- Zucchini: Choose firm ones. They are not peeled for this recipe, so make sure they are not bruised.
- Sugar: we use white sugar for the cake batter and brown sugar for the cinnamon streusel.
- Oil: any neutral oil works, like sunflower oil. But know that this cake recipe is also amazing with an extra virgin olive oil that is not too strong.
- Eggs: fresh, large.
- Flour: all-purpose flour or cake flour, both work.
- Salt: I like to use kosher salt when baking. But regular table salt works just fine.
- Baking powder: it helps the cake rise, so make sure it's not expired.
- Vanilla: I use pure vanilla extract or pure vanilla paste when available, but a good vanilla essence (artificially flavored) also works.
- Cinnamon: any ground cinnamon you normally use works fine. I like Frontier Vietnamese cinnamon and Simply Organic Ceylon cinnamon.
How to make it
This is a simple cake. For starters, it uses oil instead of butter. That in itself makes for an easy batter.
- Wet ingredients (oil and eggs) are beaten with the sugar in a large bowl for a minute until it thickens and becomes light-colored. Images 1 and 2
- Dry ingredients (also called flour mixture) are added in 2 parts, and at this point, it's very important that you don't beat much (image 3). You only need to mix it until there are no more dry spots and the batter is smooth. If you overbeat it, the gluten in the flour starts to develop and the cake will be tougher. We don't want that!
- Grated zucchini, it's added at the last moment with the flavorings (image 4) and folded in with a spatula. It will loosen the batter and make it slightly more fluid.
Vintage Kitchen tip: always grate zucchini at the last moment and with a large-holed grater. This will prevent it from releasing liquid before it's added to the cake batter. But, if it does release water, squeeze it before you add it to the egg mixture.
You can't find the crumble? It's at the bottom of the cake. Or at least it will be after you remove it from the pan. The top becomes the bottom when it comes to bundt cakes.
It's a most delectable mixture of brown sugar and cinnamon that is sprinkled on top and will later become the bottom. Yes, the streusel is crunchy, sweet, and simply amazing!
How to make it? Simply mix the ingredients and refrigerate until ready to use. It can be made ahead and refrigerated for several weeks or frozen.
Powdered sugar glaze
This is the easiest way of finishing this cake.
It's a 2 ingredient icing that comes together in a few minutes, can be made ahead, and adds a layer of sweetness.
- Flavoring: you can use lemon juice, milk, or cream as the liquid. And add some ground cinnamon or vanilla extract to enhance the flavors of the cake batter.
- Thinner or thicker: I like the latter and add a small amount of liquid so the glaze doesn't drip too much down the sides. But that's a personal preference.
Cream cheese glaze: it's an alternative to the above. I like to use a fluid cream cheese glaze, the one I use in the banana bundt cake recipe. It's thinner than the regular one so it lets the zucchini cinnamon flavor from the cake shine.
- Add-ins: you can add a handful of raisins or chocolate chips to the cake batter and some chopped walnuts to the streusel. This is how I originally used to make it. Golden raisins are the ones I like the best.
- Carrot cake: substitute grated carrot for the zucchini and have a fantastic carrot cake with cinnamon. Maybe add some ground ginger to it also. And use a fluid cream cheese glaze, the one I use in the banana bundt cake recipe.
- Flavorings: you can add lemon zest to the batter (1 or 3 tablespoons) and make a fabulous lemon zucchini cake. Or use orange zest, it pairs very well too. As for ground spices besides cinnamon, cardamom, and nutmeg or mace work well.
- Organization: read the recipe first and make sure you have ingredients at the right temperatures, equipment needed, and enough workspace. This will make the process so much easier!
- Baking time: keep in mind that all ovens and pans are different, even if they look the same or very similar. The baking time in my recipes is as accurate as it can be, but it might take you more or less time. Use a thermometer inside the oven (like the OXO oven thermometer) to check that the temperature is right. I recommend you keep track of how your oven works and what tiny details you might need to adjust.
- Pans: this is a versatile cake that can be made in a bundt or tube pan, or in a medium loaf pan if you make half the recipe.
- Storing: it keeps well for 2 days at room temperature, well wrapped. Or in the fridge for 4-5 days, also in plastic wrap or an airtight container. But I recommend freezing it (use a freezer bag, airtight container, or plastic wrap and foil) if not eating in the first few days after it's baked because the refrigerator dries up food fast. In the freezer, you can keep it for a month and then thaw it at room temperature. There is a post about freezer baking that you might find useful.
Frequently asked questions
No, you don't. So make sure the skin is not bruised and the zucchini is firm.
The easiest way is with a large holed grater. I use this Microplane extra coarse grater because it's easier to clean and use. You can also shred it in the food processor with the shredder attachment or with the blades. Be careful if using the metal blades so that you don't turn the vegetable into mush.
Yes, if it released water you should. Simply squeeze it with your hands before adding it to the batter. The reason why I recommend grating or shredding it at the last moment is to prevent this.
Related recipes you might like:
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For cinnamon streusel:
- 3 tablespoons flour
- ½ teaspoon cinnamon
- ¼ cup brown sugar
- 1 ½ tablespoons oil (taken from the amount in the cake, below)
For the cake:
- 3 eggs, at room temperature
- ¾ cup vegetable oil (I use sunflower)
- 1 ½ cups white sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 cups all purpose flour
- 1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon cinnamon
- 2 cups (about 5 ounces) unpeeled, grated zucchini (about 1 medium)
For the glaze:
- ¾ cup powdered sugar
- 2-3 teaspoons lemon juice
For the cinnamon streusel:
- Combine all streusel ingredients in a small bowl until crumbly using oil from the amount given for the cake.
- Refrigerate until ready to use. If making ahead make sure it's an airtight container.
For the cake:
- Preheat oven to 350ºF/180°C
- Butter an 8-10 cup bundt cake pan and sprinkle with flour, coating it completely and removing the excess. Or spray with baking spray. Refrigerate while you make the cake batter.
- Beat eggs, remaining oil, and sugar in a large bowl until foamy and thickened, about 1 minute.
- Sift over it flour, baking powder, baking soda and cinnamon. Or have the dry ingredients sifter in a different bowl and add to the egg batter. Mix well but don't overmix.
- Add vanilla and grated zucchini. Mix well with a spatula making sure the zucchini is integrated.
- Pour batter into the prepared bundt pan.
- Sprinkle streusel over the batter and bake for 40 to 45 minutes, until a tester inserted comes out clean.
- Let cool on wire rack for 15 minutes and carefully check that it's not sticking to the edges. Shake it lightly and see if the cake loosens up. You can use a small smooth bladed knife to separate the edges. Shake the pan again and make sure the bottom is loose.
- Invert onto a wire rack and let cool completely before glazing.
- Keep leftovers covered for a day or two at room temperature and then refrigerate or freeze, always well wrapped.
For the glaze:
- Mix both ingredients in a small bowl until smooth.
- Add more liquid or sugar (always in small quantities) if necessary to make it as thick or thin as you want.
- Drizzle on top of the cooled cake and let dry before cutting.
always read the recipe first and make sure you have all the ingredients, at the right temperatures, and also the rest of the equipment and space to make it. This will make the process so much easier!
Baking time: keep in mind that all ovens and pans are different, even if they look the same or very similar. The baking time in my recipes are as accurate as I they can be, but it might take you more or less time. You can use a thermometer that is placed inside the oven (like the OXO oven thermometer) to check that your oven is the right temperature. I recommend you keep track of how your oven works and what tiny details you might need to adjust.
Pans: this is a versatile cake that can be made in a bundt or tube pan, or in a medium loaf pan if you make half the recipe.
Storing: it keeps well for 2 days at room temperature, well wrapped. Or in the fridge for 4-5 days, also in plastic wrap or an airtight container. But I recommend freezing it (use freezer bags, airtight container or plastic wrap and foil) if not eating in the first few days after it's baked because the refrigerator dries up food fast. In the freezer you can keep it a month and then thaw it at room temperature. There is a post about freezer baking that you might find useful.
- Prep Time: 20 minutes
- Cooling time: 60 minutes
- Cook Time: 40 minutes
- Category: Cakes
- Method: Baking
- Cuisine: American
Keywords: zucchini cake
Very adapted from Easiest and Best Coffee Cakes and Quick Breads