November 17, 2009

Torta di Zucchini

I'll admit to a fair amount of sleepiness this morning, despite a good nights rest. I think it's reflected in the photos, the ones of the finished cake, zucchini cake, that is.

I made the cake yesterday, late afternoon, as Roberto recuperated from a mid-morning dermatological surgery. It was inevitable, the baking. The process was comforting, but at moments taxing. I was already sleepy, you see. Stress does that, it shocks the mind and body. I suffered the aftershocks throughout most of the afternoon into the evening. Aching joints, headache, and finally the battle to stay awake as we watched some tv before bed.

I recall at the last Charm City Cookbook Club gathering being asked which cookbook I go back to again and again. Lately it seems to be Lidia's Italian Table. I didn't realize it until yesterday when I reached for it first thing in the morning, before the days stress has strengthened its grip. I immediately went to the soup section, followed by sweets. I had it in my head that I'd make Zuppa di Patate, Rucola, e Pane (bread, potato, and arugula soup), but my mid-afternoon trip to the market left me void of arugula. Zucchini was plentiful, though. So, I gathered about 5 medium. Two went into the cake, while another was added to marinara which we ate with ditalini. Spoon fed comfort.

The cake took about 1 hour, 30 minutes to bake, when it should have only taken 1 hour, 10 minutes. Longer than I had hoped. I guess I should have squeezed out a little more liquid from the zucchini...No matter. The cake was still incredibly moist, yet fully cooked when I pulled it to a rack to cool on the counter.

I was smitten with the end result last night as we indulged over espresso. Even more so this morning eaten with a smear of peanut butter with coffee and clementine.

The recipe was sensible and no-nonsense, but I must admit that I changed one ingredient. I felt that the extra virgin olive oil it called for would exact to much personal commentary over the finished piece, so I changed it to canola.

'It's good!' Roberto yelled from the living room where his foot lay propped upon a mound of pillows on the sofa, his body interacting with the pain meds, staving off the pain.

I brought our espressos to the coffee table...'I could never be a waitress' I said walking slow and steady across the tiled floor. Panicking slightly, hoping that clumsy would take holiday.

I set down the espressos without incident and took a bite of the cake. There's such sweet relief when it turns out. I can relax and enjoy. Better yet, I can have confidence that Roberto is enjoying it as well. His opinion is all that matters as far as I'm concerned. My own discerning in-house food critic.

When we were finished, our bellies retiring, the sleepiness mounted. I was flush with happiness though. I knew I would sleep well and better still, more cake in the morning for breakfast.

Torta di Zucchini
from Lidia's Italian Table

Whisk together 2 cups unbleached all purpose flour with 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon, 1 teaspoon salt and 1 teaspoon baking soda and set aside.

In your stand mixer, beat together 3 large eggs, 2 teaspoons vanilla and one cup extra virgin olive oil or canola until well blended.

Add 1 2/3 cups sugar and beat until well blended.

Add in dry ingredients and beat until well blended.

Add in 2 cups grated zucchini (drained of excess water), 1 cup chopped walnuts, 3/4 cup golden raisins and the grated zest of one lemon. Beat until everything looks blended, but don't over beat. You can also fold these ingredients in, if you like.

Transfer batter to a greased and floured 9x5x3 inch loaf pan and bake in a 325° oven for about 1 hour, 10 minutes. If the cake is still moist continue to bake in 10 minute intervals.

Cool completely before slicing and eating...if you can...we couldn't.


  1. I really must be bold an bake with Zucchini someday...I've heard of the delicate nature of moistness of its bakes!And as for not waiting for it to cool, thats the way I feel with Banana bread!

  2. Awwwh what a nice caretaker you are Tracy! I love the idea of using "healthy" food to make evil food!

  3. Okay now I feel bad, because I definitely told my mom last week that there were no more zucchini and therefore I could *absolutely* not make her bread. But I guess then she has something to look forward to next year!

  4. Your sleepiness makes nice photos. I especially like the first. I hope you enjoyed cake for breakfast.

  5. Cake for beakfast is goooooood.
    I like your photos sleepy and not so sleepy, they are real and honest and I love that.

  6. Love cake for breakfast! Beautiul pictures as always :)

  7. Kitchen bold!

    Elizabeth...I've been making a lot of evil food lately, it seems. :)

    Beth...I was shocked at the amount of zucchini at the market. It all looked to be in healthy/fine shape. I grabbed up as much as I could, just shy of looking ridiculous.

    denise...thank you :) I've been enjoying the cake every morning. It's especially nice toasted.

    rachel...I take that as a huge compliment, thank you. :)

    Ellie...thank you so much, another huge compliment. :)

  8. i don't see an issue with cake for should be the do have all days to burn up calories. Cake for tea is the issue!
    LOVE zucchini in anything. It's so versatile.

  9. I do love the zuke. This looks excellent!

  10. Amelia...we're all about moderation. Although I have been known to indulge in a piece in the morning and one at night with espresso. Usually it's just half a piece each time, equaling a whole for the day.

    redmenace...thanks! We made the mistake of not freezing half. We always make that mistake. After three days on the counter we're either tired of said cake or it starts to go down hill.


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