Dolce Italiano: Zucchini Olive Oil Cake

Since we have established that I like to bake, here is yet another delicious, simple cake from Gina DePalma's book Dolce Italiano.

Gina is the pastry chef at Mario Batali's Babbo Ristorante, and is one of my favorite bakers. Most of her recipes use nuts, chocolate, polenta and many use olive oil. It's tough to choose which one to make.

Since I had leftover zucchini in the fridge, this was a no brainer.

There is something about using good olive oil instead of butter in cakes. I am addicted to these olive oil cakes. They are so moist and have such a wonderful consistency.

I have made Giada's Olive Oil cake, Michael Chiarello's olive oil cake and my favorite is Dorie Greenspan's Lemon Olive Oil Yogurt Cake, which I could eat everyday. I have been using Colavita extra virgin olive oil only of late, since I have been cutting back on extravagant purchases, such as $30 bottles of olive oil, which I use up in 2 weeks! Colavita is half the price of my pricey Sicilian stuff, and the results have been fabulous.

I couldn't resist adding some golden raisins to this recipe. I never did follow the rules.
I also didn't bother with the lemon crunch glaze, because the cake was good enough with just powdered sugar sprinkled on top. You don't need the extra sweetness, believe me.

This was a gorgeous, moist cake, made in a bundt pan.
Great with coffee.
And it has zucchini in it, so it's healthy, right?

Dolce Italiano's Zucchini Olive Oil Cake

1 cup (75 g) walnut pieces, toasted
2 cups (240 g) unbleached all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
3 large eggs
1-3/4 cup (306 g) granulated sugar
1 cup (237 mil) extra-virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2-1/2 cups (438 g) grated zucchini (about 2 small zucchini)
1/2 cup of raisins (optional)
confectioners sugar, for dusting (optional)

1/4 cup (59 mil) fresh squeezed lemon juice
1/3 cup (58 g) granulated sugar
1 cup (130 g) confectioners sugar

1. CAKE: Position the rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 350º F/175º C.

2. In the medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg. Set aside.

3. In the bowl of the stand mixer, beat the eggs, sugar, and olive oil together on medium speed until the mixture is light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, and beat in the vanilla extract.

4. Add the dry ingredients all at once and mix on low speed until thoroughly combined, then increase speed to medium and mix for 30 seconds.

5. Stir in the zucchini and walnut pieces until completely incorporated. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.

6. Pour the batter into the prepared Bundt pan and smooth the top with a spatula.

7. Bake for 50 minutes. Rotate the cake halfway through baking to ensure even browning. Tester should come out clean and the cake edges should start to pull away from the sides of the pan.

8. GLAZE: Make the glaze while the cake is baking. In a medium bowl, whisk the lemon juice and granulated sugar, then whisk in the confectioners sugar until the glaze is smooth. Strain any lumps as necessary.

9. Remove the baked cake from the oven and allow to cool in the pan for 10 minutes.

Place the wire rack over a piece of wax paper and invert the cake onto the rack. Use a pastry brush to brush the glaze all over the hot cake. It will stick to the cake and set as the cake cools, leaving a nice crunchy surface. Allow the cake to cool completely and the glaze to dry completely. OPTIONAL: You may dust the cake with confections sugar before serving.


Debbie said…
Looks wonderful. I have made an olive oil cake with blueberries and love using olive oil....your tomato tart looks great too! I'd love to try it..
kat said…
Oh great use for all that excess zucchini we get in the summer
Culinary Cory said…
When ever I have some leftover zucchini, I almost always turn to making some sort of zucchini bread or cake. I'll have to bookmark this for the next time I have excess.
Stop you're killing me! Every morning while I'm just drinking a lonely cup of coffee I go to your blog and want everything you post!
You're unbelievable Stacey, you're like the energizer bunny! (please don't stop!)
Suzi said…
My husband thinks cakes made with carrots or zucchini are the weirdest thing, but whenever I bake him one, he loves it! I must make this one for him, I'm sure he'll love looks amazing!
Dana said…
Have you ever bought Costco olive oil? I know, I know, but some Italians I know said it is terrific quality and it is so cheap. I go through a lot of it as well, (and would go through more if I started baking lovely things like this cake), so I love how inexpensive it is. I keep a really good bottle on hand for salad dressings, etc, and just use the Costco stuff for everything else.
LaDue & Crew said…
That is one tall bundt~ It looks so good! I hear ya on the olive oil. I "save" the good stuff for those extra special recipes.
lisaiscooking said…
This sounds like a fantastic cake! It must last really well too with the zucchini and olive oil used.
StaceyEsq said…
I'm with Proud Italian Cook - every morning it hurts so good when I read your blog and drink my by-then tepid coffee. I hear you on the olive oil! I go through it unbelievably fast, but then I realize that almost everything I make has that ingredient! By the way, I made your roasted cherry tomato pasta the other night to great fanfare! It's a wonderful, quick weekday meal (I actually used bowties because my kids like the shape)! That recipe just may turn into my weekday "go to" meal!
noble pig said…
I do love Olive Oil cake. I can't remember when I didn't enjoy one. Does a lower quality oil taste really different in the baking process? Or can you taste the difference from your more expensive oil?
Yes, vegetable = healthy. This includes all fried, butter covered, and cooked in bacon grease varieties. At least these are the things I chose to believe. :) And love the milk mustache picture! That one should be framed and set on the mantle!
Melissa said…
Of course the zucchini makes it healthy! ;)

I've never made an olive oil cake... heck, I've only made one cake ever and that was last week hehe, but about the Colavita. I started using that as a great everyday olive oil that doesn't cost an arm and a leg after Lidia Bastianich recommended it for just that reason. And I love it too!
helen said…
Oh, Stacey, this looks so toothsome. I just made some lemon olive oil cakes recently, and they were gone in a day.

Wendy said…
Now, I need to go find some zucchini. I can not wait to try this recipe!
Sara said…
This cake looks amazing! I have never made an olive oil cake, but have always wanted to. I collect zucchini cake recipes for when my garden is overflowing in the summer.
Ciao Chow Linda said…
great looking cake and good way to use up the zucchini. I'm with you on leaving off the glaze. A dusting of conf. sugar seems adequate. I use Colavita and DeCecco all the time, except for special salads when I use oil from my friend's olive orchard. Shoprite even puts Colavita and DeCecco on sale sometimes at half price. can't beat that.
Nanciful said…
Although I've only had 1 olive oil dessert in my entire life....I've been hooked! I am on a hunt for my next olive oil dessert. That lemon olive oil cake with yogurt sounds amazing!
Foodiewife said…
It's about time that you admit the obvious! You ARE a baker. I love using oil in my cakes, too. This is the best zucchini cake recipe I've found. You had far better luck with your bundt cake than I did with mine! I agree...both carrot and zucchini cake are good for you!
Great job!
Pam said…
I love zucchini bread so I know I would love this cake. It looks beautiful and tasty.
The Food Hunter said…
I'm also a huge fan of Gina DePalma. I've made this cake before and it does turn out delicious. I like your idea of adding nuts and nixing the glaze. It doesn't need it at all.
Cindy said…
Your friend and mine, Beth, directed me to your site and I love it. So much delicious food. I am making this recipe this weekend. Looks yummy!
Peter M said…
I'm a fan of desserts and cakes that rely more on natural sweeteners, nuts, spices. Also, can't go wrong w/ olive oil in cake.
Anonymous said…
Made this over the weekend for company and it was a HIT. It was flavorful and wonderfully moist. I agree, it doesn't need the glaze, the powdered sugar was perfect. 2 of our guests asked for the recipe.
niabassett said…
I made this cake and was pretty disappointed. It's gotten a lot of great press, so I was really surprised that I didn't like it.
Anonymous said…
I enjoyed this recipe. Olive oil and zucchini are a great pairing for cake. The walnuts are a great addition. I used a quarter of the glaze and it is way too sweet. I would cut the sugar in the cake by half. Mine turned out too moist - I would either decrease the olive oil or the zucchini. I used half whole wheat flour and found it a pleasant balance that compliments the olive oil well - I would not hesitate to use exclusively whole wheat for this recipe. I did not add raisins and am glad I didn't, they would make the cake too busy and take away from the strong olive oil flavor, richness of the walnuts and subtleties of the zucchini. I added fresh ginger which was a nice addition. Cardamom or cloves would be nice in this.