Lemon Zucchini Cake & Earl Grey Buttercream
I love sneaking vegetables in anywhere. I think it's sort of a secret power. I mean you think you are eating a delicious pudding and then BAM, there's avocado in it. Or you're eating a delectable lemon cake and surprise, there's zucchini! And there's the either loved or hated carrot cake. (P.S. I love carrot cake!) This cake makes you feel as fancy as the name suggests. This is the cake that you would serve your besties for brunch with the best bubbly. This is the cake that you would serve your grandma when she comes o
I found the original recipe on BlogLovin and later on Top with Cinnamon. The recipe I have included is slightly adapted from that one.
The cake is fairly simple: flour, eggs, oil, sugar. And you already know the sneaky addition: zucchini. Another reason to add zucchini to everything? It is abundant! It is the vegetable that your neighbour tries to offload on you she harvests her garden. When Kaitlin and I had our garden last year, our zucchini overtook every other thing we planted, and because we were lazy harvesters, we ended up with the biggest zucchinis ever! We had zucchini muffin for days! Zucchini has a soft enough texture and mild enough flavour to mingle well with the other ingredients in any recipe. It doesn't overpower in either taste or texture.
I got lost and overwhelmed with the buttercream. While I have eaten a lot of buttercream in my life (thanks, mom and dad), I have never actually made it. However, nothing ventured, nothing gained. Right?
Well, first thing I should have done was read the recipe in its entirely before texting my friend, "FANCY CAKE! LET'S MAKE DIS!!!!!" I didn't realize I needed a double broiler and time to let the tea-infused butter chill. I also learned what a medium-stiff peak actually was. I learned how labour-intensive baking really is - I didn't need to lift weights after that. I also learned just how much I love butter - I'm convinced that it's not me, but the inner Julia Child. Finally, I learned how much more delicious food is when you pour love and sweat into it. (For those who don't know, sweat is actually the secret ingredient, not love. :))
This cake made me feel fancy. I felt that all the effort was worth it that first bite touched my taste buds.
[recipe title="Lemon Zucchini Cake with Earl Grey Buttercream" servings="12" time="approximately 1 hour, plus cooling time"]
- 2½ cups all-purpose flour, plus more for the pans
- 2 tsp baking powder
- ½ tsp baking soda
- ½ tsp salt
- ½ cup + 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 2 tsp finely grated lemon zest
- 3 large eggs
- 1½ cups grated zucchini, drained
- 3 tbsp buttermilk
- 1 tsp fresh lemon juice
- 1 cup (125 g) powdered sugar
- 2-3 tbsp fresh lemon juice
- Preheat the oven to 350 F (175 C). Grease + flour four 6-inch (or two 8-inch) cake pans and set aside.
- Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside.
- In a large bowl mix the oil, sugar and lemon zest until well combined. Beat the eggs in one at a time.
- Add ½ the flour mixture and stir to combine. Add the rest of the flour and stir until just combined.
- Add the zucchini, buttermilk and lemon juice. Mix gently until the zucchini is just mixed in.
- Divide the batter evenly among the prepared cake pans. Bake for 24-26 minutes for 6-inch cakes (or 25-30 minutes for 8-inch cakes).
- Let them cool on a wire rack for 10-15 minutes before removing the cakes from their pans.
- Use a serrated knife to cut each cake in two.
- Take one layer of cake and place it onto a serving plate. Brush the layer with some of the lemon syrup (leftover from making the candied lemons) and then top with ¼ of the buttercream, spreading it out into an even layer. Repeat the layering of cake, lemon syrup, buttercream until you've stacked up all the cake layers and frosted the top.
- Stir together the glaze ingredients until a thick, pourable glaze is achieved. Pour it all over the top of the cake, coaxing it to the edges so that it drips down the sides.
- While the glaze is still wet decorate the cake with the candied lemon slices and pearl sugar.
EARL GREY BUTTERCREAM INGREDIENTS
- 1½ cups (335 g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 3 tbsp (8g) loose Earl Grey tea
- ½ cup minus 1 tbsp (7 tbsp / 100ml) egg whites
- 1 cup minus 1 tbsp (187g) granulated sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla bean paste
- pinch of salt
EARL GREY BUTTERCREAM INSTRUCTIONS
- Place ¾ cup of the butter into a saucepan with the loose tea. Heat over medium heat until the butter melts, then reduce the heat to low and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and let the tea steep for 5 minutes more. Strain the butter through a fine-mesh sieve set over a bowl and refrigerate it until it reaches the same consistency as softened butter (20-30 minutes). Small bits of tea may remain in the butter.
- Place the egg whites and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer. Whisk them together by hand to combine. Fill a medium saucepan with a few inches of water and place it over medium-high heat. Place the mixer bowl on top of the saucepan to create a double boiler. The bottom of the bowl should not touch the water. Whisking intermittently, heat the egg mixture until it registers 160 F (70 C) on a candy thermometer or is hot to the touch. Carefully fit the mixer bowl onto the stand mixer.
- With the whisk attachment, beat the egg white mixture on high speed for 8-10 minutes, until it holds medium-stiff peaks. When done, the outside of the mixer bowl should return to room temperature and no residual heat should be escaping from the meringue out of the top of the bowl. Stop the mixer and swap out the whisk attachment for the paddle.
- With the mixer on low speed, add the vanilla and salt. Next add the tea-infused butter and remaining ¾ cup of butter a couple tablespoons at a time. Once incorporated, turn the mixer onto medium-high and beat until the buttercream is silky smooth (3-5 minutes).