Its Zuk Season

Hello friends! Here we go. I follow tons of recipe blogs (won’t divulge that number…I swear I do do more with my life than think about/make/consume food, but hey it’s a serious highlight). I love the idea of blogging, but haven’t been motivated to start. Since cooking and baking are something I do an awful lot of, whether its a sweet-tooth remedy or a great way to delay studying for a test....the kitchen is my happy place. Though I know my risotto may very well never quite reach Top Chef status and my cake decorating skills at this point haven’t evolved beyond edible flowers…maybe  a good cooking & baking dialogue can provide some inspiration!

So, welcome. I’ll start with a good basic cake I can’t get enough of this summer. It’s based around that favorite, abundant of summer veggies – the one where you have to keep your car windows up so neighbors don’t pile your seats with them –zucchini! Though this veggie was my childhood nemesis, I’d like to think my palate maturing has led me to a greater appreciation of it – or maybe it’s because everything is better smothered with dark chocolate or cheese (another recipe with a good dose of cheddar & zuks coming up later). This cake’s hard to beat, and adapted from Gimme Some Oven.

This recipe goes out to the friends I spent time harvesting zuks and other veggies/fruits with on Lopez Island this summer.

Ingredients for your cake
1 ½ cups whole wheat flour
1 cup white flour
½ cup cocoa powder
1 ½ tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. sea salt (Trader Joe’s makes a great one)
1 cup brown sugar
½ cup white sugar
½ cup olive oil
½ cup buttermilk (if you don’t have it handy, use the same amt of milk + ½ Tbs. lemon juice or vinegar)
3 eggs
2-3 tsps. vanilla extract
2 cups grated zucchini, yellow or green (no need to peel, gives the cake some fun color! also, don’t drain it, good to have the extra liquid)
1 cup chocolate chips
1 cup walnuts (pecans good too!)

Next, ingredients for the chocolate glaze
8 oz. semi-sweet chocolate (Baker’s bars)
6 Tbsp. butter
2 Tbsp. milk
1 ½ Tbsp. honey
1 tsp. vanilla

Putting it all together
Get your oven going heating to 350 degrees. Lightly oil and flour a Bundt pan, so it looks all beautiful after your hard work.

Whisk together the flours, cocoa powder, cinnamon, baking soda and powder, and sea salt in a small mixing bowl.

In another larger bowl, use a mixer to combine the sugars and olive oil. Add your buttermilk, eggs and vanilla. Stir in your grated zucchini. Add your dry ingredients from above, then use a spoon to mix in the chocolate chips and nuts.

Pour the batter into your Bundt pan and bake for 35-45 minutes, depending on your oven. I’d suggest taking a look a little early, better a little bit of wet crumbs than dry, crumbly cake. Give your cake 10 or so minutes to cool in the pan, then flip it onto a wire rack. If you have any trouble – it happens, even with a good greased pan – try tapping the bottom of the pan with a spoon or even running a knife real cleanly around the outside and inner edge until you feel it give. Once your cake is well cooled, drizzle your glaze on top.

Glaze directions
Glazes are my new favorite cake topper. They’re simple, no mixer required and don’t require cups of powdered sugar. This one is good and rich, so a little goes a good way. Use a little saucepan on med-low to melt your chocolate and butter together, stirring. Take it off the heat and add in the rest of the ingredients. It’ll pour better and look smoother if you let it cool for a bit before pouring on the cake. So take this time to try some and make sure it’s good to go.

If you’re feeling adventurous and weather permits, it looks beautiful with a few edible flowers on top! I love to use nasturtiums, day lilies and pansies. I first learned this recipe this summer on Lopez Island, where it’s traditional to decorate celebratory cakes with flowers. And honestly, making a cake anytime is a celebration in itself right? What's your favorite cake to bake and share?

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