I’ve always been team zucchini, although I have friends who claim the summer squash, technically a fruit, is just a vehicle for sauce. Admittedly, with such an abundance available this time of year, I find myself also struggling with ways to enjoy them in all sorts of dishes. I usually like to thick-slice them before pan-frying in some good olive oil with garlic, chile flakes and golden raisins and serving with fresh mint and soft, creamy feta. For a sweeter bite, I’ve been grating zucchini into a simple, single-layer cake. The zucchini might not offer as much flavor as it does both texture and moisture; I find that sworn squash deniers will go back for seconds on this, especially if no one is looking. And to make it more tempting, you can add some dark chocolate bits, which I’ve done here, since there’s less sugar than in most cakes this size. If you forgo the chocolate, maybe up the sugar a wee bit. Buttermilk adds tenderness and lightness to this sheet cake meets banana-style “bread.”
Walnut zucchini snacking cake
2 medium zucchini (1 pound total), ends trimmed
2 cups all-purpose flour (270 grams)
1 cup walnuts (90 g), finely chopped or pulsed in a food processor into coarse bits
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon fine salt
3 large eggs, lightly beaten
2/3 cup sugar (140 g)
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
1 teaspoon vanilla extract or vanilla paste
3/4 cup buttermilk
3/4 cup (165 g) semisweet chocolate chips
For serving: vanilla whipped cream
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Thoroughly grease one 13-by-9-inch baking pan. Line with parchment, if desired. Grate zucchini using the largest holes of a box grater (about 2 cups packed). Roll up zucchini in a kitchen towel or paper towels and squeeze out as much liquid as possible.
2. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, finely chopped walnuts, baking soda and salt. In a separate bowl, whisk together eggs, sugar, vanilla and melted — and cooled — butter. Stir in zucchini and half of flour mixture. Stir in buttermilk and the remaining flour mixture until just combined. Add chocolate chips and stir just to combine. Spread batter evenly in prepared pan. Bake for 40 minutes or until tester inserted in center comes out mostly clean.