Monday, September 10, 2012

Zucchini Coffee Cake

We start talking about zucchini in July, all excited at the lush bounty of this eagerly producing garden plant. Then September rolls around and there’s still a ton of the stuff and it keeps coming and we don’t want to waste healthy food and we wonder what to do with it all and why we planted so much (or any) in the first place.

 This year I planted a variety known as “8 Ball” zucchini, so called because the fruits are round instead of tubular. Like the long zucchini, they’re best when picked small, and I had visions of stuffing them and baking them, much like I do with small winter squashes. I haven’t got around to trying that yet. These little 8 Balls, however, shred just as well as any other zucchini (and taste the same, too), so are just as useful in baked goods.

Recently, I tried a coffee cake moistened and textured with said zucchini shreds. It was based on a recipe in Pillsbury: The Complete Book of Baking. The original recipe called for all-purpose flour, but I increased the Whole Food Quotient by substituting some of the flour with a multigrain flour mixture. I also used regular oats instead of quick-cooking oats, simply because I almost never have quick oats in the house.

This cake is wonderfully moist, a little dense, and just a bit crumbly so that it’s best eaten with a fork. The flavor is a little malty and nutty from the multigrain mix and a little caramel-y from the good dose of brown sugar. It’s quite delicious and satisfyingly sweet, but also more complex than a white-flour cake would be. The recipe makes a pretty big cake (13” x 9”), but it lasted well at room temperature, and I think it could be refrigerated or even frozen to extend its life if necessary.

This is really easy to throw together. All of the cake ingredients are mixed together in one bowl (I used a heavy-duty stand mixer). The batter is poured into a prepared pan, sprinkled with an oat and brown sugar streusel and baked. You don’t even have to wait until the cake completely cools to enjoy it, since it’s quite nice while still warm.  It’s quite nice a few days later, at room temperature, too. And, as part of its name implies, this Zucchini Multigrain Coffee Cake is really delicious with a side of coffee (or espresso!).


Zucchini Multigrain Coffee Cake
Adapted from Pillsbury: The Complete Book of Baking

I used the multigrain flour mix from Good to the Grain by Kim Boyce, which is 2 parts each whole wheat, oat and barley flours and 1 part each millet and rye flours.

For the topping:
¾ cup brown sugar
½ cup multigrain flour
½ cup rolled oats
½ teaspoon cinnamon
¼ cup unsalted butter 

For the cake:
1 cup all-purpose flour
¾ cup multigrain flour mix
1 cup rolled oats
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon nutmeg (preferably freshly grated)
2 cups shredded zucchini
½ cup butter, at room temperature
¼ cup sour cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 eggs 

1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Grease, oil, or spray with cooking spray a 13 x 9-inch pan.

2. In a medium-size bowl, combine the topping ingredients, mixing with a fork or rubbing with your fingers to work in the butter until crumbly.  Set aside.

3. Combine all of the cake ingredients in a large bowl or the bowl of a heavy-duty stand mixer.  Mix at low speed until just moistened.

4. Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Sprinkle evenly with the prepared topping. Bake at 350 F for 30-35 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in the center comes out with just a few moist crumbs. Cool on a wire rack. Serve warm or completely cooled.

Makes at least 12 servings.


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