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A few years ago, I was extremely fortunate to meet Gina DePalma, who was (at the time) the pastry chef at Babbo in New York City. Being bakers, we struck up a friendship and she gave me a copy of her gorgeous book, Dolce Italiano. After we had dessert and coffee together, we ambled the streets of New York City for a bit, and made plans to meet in Rome, where she was moving to work on her second book.

Unfortunately, we didn’t get to have our Roman holiday, but I often thumb through her book and dream about how much fun we would have had lapping our way through the gelaterias of Rome and eating all those pastries with little sips of Italian espresso in between bites. Before she could plant her roots too firmly in Rome, Gina was diagnosed with cancer and returned to the States.

It’s been noted that her accomplishments were often overshadowed by the owner of Babbo, whose empire eventually fell. Gina was tough and although I never worked alongside her, co-workers noted that she didn’t suffer fools gladly, but she made such masterful desserts, and was such a talent, that you couldn’t help but have the utmost respect for Gina.

Her book, Dolci Italiano, has become a baking classic and is one of those exceptional cookbooks that makes excellent reading (as well as being an entirely enticing collection of recipes), especially the chapter on Italian ingredients, which isn’t just a rote list of what to buy. She discusses the importance of baking ingredients and what they mean to Italians: Olive oil isn’t just to moisten, it’s a flavor. And why citrus figures into Italian desserts more often than vanilla.

I was reminded of Gina recently when a reader alerted me to some links in this post led to the website of an adult film star who shared the same first and last name as Gina. Gina always got a chuckle out of that but after her passing, it seemed that Gina DePalma’s website (the one for the pastry chef and baker) somehow got co-opted by her, uh…racier counterpart. As I was switching out the links, I remembered how much I loved this Zucchini Cake of hers.

Since it’s summer, people with gardens are often bemoaning they have too many zucchini and are always looking for ways to use up their bounty. With a crunchy lemon glaze, I’m going to go out on a limb and say it’s the most delicious way to present a zucchini cake, whether you zucchini comes from your garden, or not.

The genius of the glaze is adding granulated sugar, which gives it an especially lemony, sweet, yet tangy crunch. The glaze is not a looker (which finally made me break out my silicone pastry brush for the first time, and I’m never going back to bristles again) but it tastes amazing with the spicy zucchini cake and I’m happy to let looks step aside to give way to flavor.

Zucchini Cake with Crunchy Lemon Glaze

Adapted from Dolce Italiano: Desserts from the Babbo Kitchen by Gina DePalma This is a substantial (and very good) cake. The crunchy glaze with the tang of fresh lemon juice really makes the cake special. Be sure to grease the cake pan well to make sure it slides out easily (I use a non-stick one) and also make sure the cake is fully baked. Gina recommended olive oil in her original recipe, which is very good, but the cake also works with neutral vegetable oil in its place. The best way to invert the cake is to lay the cooling rack over the top of the cake pan, then grasping both the cake pan and the rack simultaneously (if it’s too hot, wear oven mitts), flip them both over at once. Lift off the cake pan, then liberally brush the glaze over the warm cake.

For the cake:

  • 1 cup (135g) almonds, pecans, or walnuts, toasted
  • 2 cups (280g) flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon kosher or sea salt
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon dried ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
  • 3 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 3/4 cups (350g) sugar
  • 1 cup (250ml) extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 1/2 cups (300g) grated zucchini

For the lemon glaze:

  • 1/4 cup (60ml) freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/3 cup (65g) granulated sugar
  • 1 cup (140g) powdered (confectioner’s) sugar
  • Preheat the oven to 350ºF (180ºC). Grease a 10-cup (2.5l) bundt or tube cake pan* with non-stick spray (preferably) or butter, dust with flour, then tap out any excess.
  • Pulse the nuts in a food processor until finely chopped.
  • In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg. Set aside.
  • In the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, beat the eggs, 1 3/4 cup (350g) sugar, and olive oil for 3 minutes on medium speed, until light and fluffy. Stop and scrape down the sides of the mixer, then add the vanilla.
  • Mix in the dry ingredients, scraping down the sides of the mixer bowl to make sure everything is mixed in well, then beat on medium speed for 30 seconds.
  • Stir in the chopped nuts and zucchini.
  • Scrape the batter into the prepared cake pan, smooth the top, then bake the cake for 45 to 50 minutes, until the toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean and the cake has begun to pull away from the sides of the pan. Do not underbake the cake.
  • During the last few minutes of the cake baking, make the glaze by whisking together the lemon juice, 1/3 cup (65g) granulated sugar, and powdered sugar.
  • Let the cake cool for 10-15 minutes, then carefully invert it onto a cooling rack. Brush the glaze over the cake with a pastry brush and let the cake cool completely.


Storage and Notes:
-This cake is very good served on its own, but it could be accompanied by whipped cream, vanilla ice cream, cherry compote, or honey ice cream.
-The cake can be wrapped (or put under a cake dome) and will keep for a few days. You can freeze the unglazed cake. However to apply the glaze, you’ll need to defrost the cake, then warm it so the glaze will adhere properly.
-If you don’t have a bundt or tube pan, I noticed that both Adam and Sara made the cake in a regular round cake pan with good results.
-I haven't baked it in two loaf pans, which would likely work just fine. You may need to reduce the baking time to compensate for the smaller pans.

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    • Jerry

    I’ve made this cake many times since I first got Gina’s cook book and everyone always raves about it – even those who turn up their noses a titch at the thought of zucchini in dessert.

    I’ve always made it in a tube of bundt cake pan and don’t think I’d want to use a regular cake pan – you want more edges and surface for the amazing glaze to crust over. You would not think that a simple lemon glaze would make such a difference but, baby, it does!

    • Jared

    David, is there any chance that when you write a recipe that contains nuts, you put an asterix* next to the nuts so that we know whether we can omit them. I really really really (can’t quite stress enough) hate the taste of nuts. I’m not allergic but if i get too strong a taste, my stomach starts reacting violently.

    Many thanks


      • Allison

      of course you can omit the nuts. maybe add chocolate chips for fun :)

        • Kathleen

        I have a friend that adds chocolate chips to hers and it is wonderful.

    • Dana

    Sounds delish! And the perfect outlet for all that zucchini from the CSA (one can only make so many zucchini breads with raisins and pineapple)! However, would it taste as good with less of the cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg? One of my kids is allergic cinnamon and I seem to only really enjoy this combination in apple pie. Thanks!

    • AbraCat

    I’ve made this cake several times, and it’s soooo good! The granulated sugar is a must in the glaze– last time I made it, I had just enough for the cake, and made the glaze without. Though quite good, it wasn’t as spectacular as previous attempts.

    • krysalia

    it is too bad that there is some Food Police out there, waiting to severely tax (or beat!) any people who would like to change a line when reading and trying a recipe… :D
    If there wasn’t such armed and dangerous guardians of the rectitude, one could adapt any recipe in their own way according to their own needs, without having to bother for those expensive state cooking permits or R.O.G.R : recipe owner granted rights.

    What a great world it would be :D…

    (mean for fun as a wink, not for bashing :) – please people don’t take this the wrong way :D)

      • Jennifer


    • David

    It’s challenging to write a recipe to accommodate the various dietary needs so I generally trust that people who have dietary restrictions are in the best position to know how to modify recipes to address their particular concerns. Unless I try the variation myself, I can’t guarantee the results and oftentimes if ingredients get swapped out, folks aren’t happy the the results.

    In general, nuts and spices aren’t part of the ‘chemistry’ of a cake recipe, so can be modified; they are there for texture and flavor, respectively. Folks are always welcome to try variations and I welcome when they report back in the comments, as others may have the same or similar questions about a recipe.

    • Jessica @ How Sweet

    The lemon glaze sounds to die for.

    • Foodie in Berlin

    I have yet to make a zucchini bread – although I make carrot cake all the time! The spices, olive oil and lemon glaze do sound like a winning combination

    • Cristina, from Buenos aires to Paris

    Oh!!! I love these Italian cakes, mixture of vegetables, olive oil, and lemon glaze…
    I don’t know what I prefer from Italy…these cakes? or Italian carabinieri? LOL
    Thanks for the recipe, David!

    • Hannah

    Oooh, I just made (and ate in less than 48 hours, on my own) a date and banana bread, so I can’t WAIT for the chocolate and date recipe!! In the meantime, I *suppose* I can make do with this zucchini cake. Even if there are vegetables in it ;)

    • David

    Technically (and botanically), zucchini is a fruit. So eat all you want! : )

    • sillygirl

    I love my silicone pastry brushes, too – they work so well and clean up easier. My neighbor gave me a set – aren’t I lucky!

    • DessertForTwo

    It seems like everywhere you go, people hand you their cookbooks. Can I sign up for your life? I’m a cookbook addict!

    I have so much zucchini in my garden, I considered Fed-Ex’ing you some…but I guess I’ll make this instead. Looks divine-I love the olive oil instead of butter! :)

    • Jeremy

    Going to make that when I get home from my vacation!!!

    • rebecca

    I have been trying to keep my baking to one day a week (it’s a waistline thing), but… but…. I have your book open on my desk and this recipe starred on my desk and a couple of Dorie’s recipes marked off and I’m thinking it will be WEEKS before I get to try all of them and maybe I should change it to bi-weekly ;).
    Plus, I think there’s something so homely and lovely about having cakes like this out on the countertop for visitors to munch on with a cup of tea.

    • My Kitchen in the Rockies

    This is the perfect use for all my delicious Zucchini. Yummy. Thanks for sharing!
    Yes, , I also would never go back to my old brush. Love the silicon brushes.

    • Susan

    You knew we’d be looking for something to use up all the zucchini that’s so inexpensive and abundant at the market or in the garden! I’m so glad you posted this as I’m just overrun with the stuff. I’ve been making loaves and loaves of zucchini bread and was curious if olive oil would play nice in it. I worried it would feel too oily on the tongue. I will give this a try using some lemon zest in the batter as well. The ginger is the one spice I haven’t tried in it either. Love lemon and ginger together!

    • Annie

    When you specify to use the paddle attachment in the stand mixer, is it ok to substitute another attachment without affecting the batter? I think I lost my paddle attachment, and I usually use the whisk or the attachment that is white ceramic with holes in it (dont know what that one is called) instead. Just wondering if this makes a difference.

    • James in Seattle

    Wow, since I’m up to my ears in zucchini, I can’t wait to try this. I love moist cakes and I love lemon….so this one has my taste buds tingling with anticipation. Can’t wait!

    BTW David, another great way to use up some of those mounds of zucchini is in pickles. My favorites are from Judy Rodgers at the Zuni Cafe. You surely remember those this chartreuse strips that come on the side of a Zuni Burger! The recipe can be found in Judy’s Zuni Cafe Cookbook (as well as the recipe for her shocking pink and spicey onion pickle).

    • Jean

    I don’t have a stand mixer (don’t have much space, and don’t bake enough). Would hand beating with a spoon suffice? Thanks!

      • Miriam

      Could you please clarify if you squeeze the grated zucchini of excess liquid or not? Thank you!

        • David
        David Lebovitz

        No I don’t.

    • Jill

    I made this cake once with a little bit of buckwheat flour, and it was spectacular! The crunchy glaze was an awesome takeaway though – I’ve been putting it on everything lately!

    • Nicolette

    Perfect timing for the zucchini recipe, thanks!
    I have enjoyed your recent posts featuring Italian baking. When I was in Florence a few years ago during Easter time, I had a sweet rosemary bread that was so good it stuck with me ever since. I’ve never found a name or a recipe for it. Maybe it could be specific to Tuscany? Anyway, I thought it was called Rosmarino, but that’s just Italian for rosemary… darn. Have you ever heard of this? It’s a baking mystery!

    • Tracy

    Making this tonight to help use up the five zucchini currently in my fridge (though I’d probably buy zucchini to make it if I didn’t have my own supply)! It will be a nice dessert after the pasta with grilled zucchini and onions we’re having for supper….

    • Maddie

    David, do you think this recipe would work with grated yellow summer squash instead of zucchini? I have this giant one sitting around that I need to use up, but don’t know if it would throw off the flavor or texture. I hope you can enlighten me!

    • Renee

    I can almost literally taste this cake in my mouth. I have had many such crunchy glazes atop baked goods and have a special affection for anything with zucchini (my grandmother makes a zucchini pie so good that a relative who “hates zucchini” gobbled it up under the assumption it was apple pie. :)

    • KV

    Looks wonderful.

    Can you clarify – Step 2 has us grind the nuts until fine, but Step 6 says to stir in the chopped nuts. Same ingredient? I just want to be sure I’m not missing out on any chopped nuts that are also supposed to be included!

    • Joanne

    The three nuts suggested in the recipe have very different flavors – just curious which you (or anyone else who has made this) used.

    • Lucie

    I love that the recipe uses olive oil–must be delicious paired with the zucchini! I’ve been craving zucchini cake for a week now, just in time!

    • C’est Si Bon! La Joie de Vivre

    Zucchini cake reminds me of my childhood visits to the farm where my mom grew up in North Dakota. I have never tried it with lemon, though. Can’t wait to try! Thanks!

    Did I already tell you I wrote about you on my own blog? Check it out:

    • Diane

    Yes, please, David, I second the question from KV on the nuts. Grind or chop? Thanks for posting what looks like a delicious summer cake.

    • heather @ chiknpastry

    i only wish i had a slew of zucchini lying around my house, or in my nonexistent garden. although, they are rather cheap and all over the markets, so its not like it’s hard to go grab some!

    • David

    Annie: I would order another paddle attachment–that’s the one I use all the time! You could use the whip until you add the dry ingredients, at which point, you can mix the rest by hand.

    Jill: Actually, I had some corn flour and was thinking of swapping it out for some of the flour, but thought I’d stick with the recipe as is. Next time, though, I’ll give it a try. Thanks for letting me know that it worked for you.

    Jean: I believe using a spoon and beating it well would do the trick.

    KV: I chopped the nuts very fine in my mini-chop food processor. So folks can use one of those, or hand chop them. They should be in fairly small pieces. I used almond for this cake, since that’s what I had on hand.

    Maddie: As you can see from the photo, I used both yellow and green zucchini in this cake. Worked great!

    James: I’ve made both those recipes and they turned out great. The recipe for Zuni’s Red Pickled Onions is here.

    • Bridget

    Looks nomlicious!

    Great pics too!! Thank you for sharing your story.


    • Sharon

    I would love to be able to share some of my zucchini! I have three or 4 varieties, including a white patty pan and an eight ball. I’ve also been using zucchini blossoms —helps keep the zuc population down. Any good zuc blossom recipes from the marches?

    • Julia

    Gad-zukes! It’s a great cake! I made it in winter, so blessed be for the reminder.

    • Lori W.

    I made this cake tonight with big chunks of pecans because I like the chewy texture of the bigger pieces. It was so good my family gobbled it up. If you don’t want to use nuts you could always use toasted pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds.

    • Rae

    I just discovered your blog when I was looking for some tips on preparing leeks. I am super excited–I made the vinaigrette the other night and was so pleased! Unfortunately, however, I don’t have an oven at the moment (I live in China and they’re underappreciated here), so I won’t be able to try this cake until I get home. However, it looks divine. I really enjoy your blog posts as well! You really are living the sweet life!

    • Chocolate Freckles

    Zuccini in a cake! Wow that is a crazy combination… I should really give this a try!

    • Skippy

    Somewhat related–my parents’ garden is not bursting with zucchini, but is instead practically blushing from the extraordinary number of tomatoes. Have you ever seen a recipe from the sweet side of the pantry using tomatoes? A tomato cake (maybe that doesn’t sound so good…) or tomato pie? Not like a tomato tart meant to be served as a savory dish, but it seems like there should be something where a tomato is actually treated like a fruit?

    (And why don’t I just cook with the tomatoes as usual? Cooking is boring! I’m a baker!)

      • TalesToTell

      Joanne Weir (another Chez Panisse alum) has a spiced tomato upside down cake recipe on her website. My spouse took a cooking class from her and made the cake then. It’s tasty and fun to see people react to slices of tomato on a cake!

    • CopyKat Recipes

    My mom used to make zucchini bread all of the time during the summer, our garden was abudant with fresh zucchini. I look forward trying to your recipe I never did a lemon glaze on zucchini bread.

    • MollyCookie

    This recipe looks great. My zucchini are growing and I am collecting good recipes to use them in. I’ll add this to the list of possibilities!

    • Maureen@ToutSweetParis

    Now I know what I am making for the kids breakfast, yummy!
    Is it OK to give my children icing to start their day? I say heck yeah, its vacation time!

    • joan

    Wow, that surely looks and sounds like a healthy cake! :) I think I would give it a go and hear my kids’ say about it. I’m a little worried about the color though, it looks like the color of a whole wheat bread, not exactly my kids’ favorite. But they’re really patient with mommy’s cooking and love having the last say about mommy’s new recipe, lol! Love those kids!

    • Nathalie (spacedlaw)

    I make a zucchini cake with absinthe (in the cake and in the glazing). I think this combination would work nicely with this recipe too (doing away with vanilla, nutmeg and ginger). I like the idea of putting coarser sugar in the glazing to add crunch.

    • rebecca

    I’ve never used olive oil in a baked good before and this seems like the perfect recipe to try.

    On another note, I hope to see you at your stop in NYC in a few days!

    • Sarah

    I love the idea of this cake as muffins. Think it would work to simply bake this batter in muffin tins and glaze each individual muffin?

    • megan

    Crunchy Lemon Glaze got my attention on this post! I’m here with my morning coffee thinking that a slice of that would be perfect right now!! Don’t you love the silicone brush?! I love mine, it’s such a brillant idea!

    • Fran

    I have her cookbook, and had the first thing I tried was her ricotta cheesecake. The whole while I was making it I kept thinking “shouldn’t the ricotta be drained”? Well, I went with her instructions sans draining and it was a total disaster…wet, the crust was disgusting and water logged. I had prepared this for guests and was horrified by the results. I haven’t opened the book since, it is lovely and I had high hopes. But, I will give her a shot again since you posted this. I guess one learns after a bit to not trust every expert and to listen to that little voice inside…even when you think “they” know everything!

    • Anne

    Oh Non !!! Je viens juste de faire de la confiture avec mon trop plein de courgettes: j’aurais pu faire votre magnifique gâteau! Big sigh: I’ve just made jam this morning with my surplus of home grown courgettes !!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • Palma

    Hi Dave- Just want to tell you I love your site-so glad I stumbled upon it. Just ordered your book Ready for Dessert & I think I’m going to order Dolce Italiano as well. I will defintely be making the zucchini cake today! Thanks again!

    • Joy

    I love zucchini cake. That just looks lovely with the lemon glaze.

    • Frances Mercer

    …cannot wait to enhance my zucchini bread recipe with this one…the glaze sounds divine !!! Thanks, David !!

    • dina

    I made this last night with almonds. It was fantastic. The cake is moist and delicious and the glaze is really quite wonderful! Who knew that just a little granulated sugar would elevate a glaze like that. Thank you for sharing this recipe!

    • Teresa

    I did it!! This cake is heavenly good. The lemony crunchy glaze is amazing. I had some leftover so I put it on blueberry scones that I had already made. For the cake, I used pecans, I used one cup of all-purpose flour and one cup of whole wheat and I did grate some lemon zest when I grated the zucchini.

    • Scott

    David, thank you so much, I absolutely loved this cake. My friends and parents were particularly intrigued to find out that its fat base is olive oil–they loved the taste, and they also loved that it was (relatively) healthy! That being said, I was wondering if you could point me to more desserts which incorporate olive oil, or at least explain to me how olive oil works in a baked good compared to say, butter. Don’t get me wrong, I would never compromise taste for healthy substitution when it comes to these recipes, but the deliciousness and healthiness of the olive oil is intriguing! Thanks for your great work, I look forward to your next recipe.

    • Sini

    Wow! I’ve never had a zucchini cake. I think not even heard about! Have to make it and come to leave a further comment after that. Thank you for the inspiration and the cook book suggestion!

    • Shannon

    This recipe looks great…can’t wait to try it! One quick question, David. When you make this, do you use type 55 flour? I live in Poland now (used to live in Poitiers) and they basically have the same system as France, but with an extra 0. So, I can choose from anything between 400 and 650 in most stores. I usually use 550 for my AP flour, but with mixed results. Do you blend or use just one type outright? Thanks!

    • David

    Shannon: You can check out the post that I’ve linked to at the end of the recipe about American Ingredients and their French Counterparts that I use. This cake was made with T65 flour.

    Teresa: Thanks for the report and glad to know it worked out!

    • Laura

    I made this cake. I have never used olive oil in a cake before and curiosity got the best of me and I made a go of it. I have made many zucchini recipes except chocolate zucchini cake and I really thought this cake was fabulous. I did make a few changes (I can’t seem to help myself), changed sugar to 1 cup white and 3/4 cup dark brown, flour to 1 cup all purpose and 1 cup white whole wheat (both King Arthur) and used pecans. In my experience, cakes with oil take well to whole wheat/whole grain flours. Really, Really good. Thank you for sharing

    • Paula

    When I make zucchini bread I add cardamom along with the other spices listed in this recipe, so today when I baked this cake I added 1/4 tsp. cardamom to this as well as the lemon zest as you recommend. So. Good.

    • Kelly-Jane

    I’ve had Dolce Italiano on my wish list, off, on again and off again. I’ll put in on and it’s only coming off when I buy it now.!

    • David

    Laura and Paula: Thanks for the report. I love cardamom (although opening all those tiny pods and grinding them up is a bit of a chore), and I too, like whole grains. I’ve not tried that white whole wheat flour, but whole wheat pastry flour is another option, I’d imagine.

    • Monica

    Just made this and the quantities made me 3x340g loaves (in those disposable silicone coated paper moulds), plus 12 cupcake/muffins.
    The glaze is delicious…though I used demerara sugar instead of granulated. Perhaps this is why my glaze is not as white?
    Thank goodness I am visiting friends tomorrow, because despite the courgettes and olive oil, eating so much ‘healthy’ cake wouldn’t be good for my waistline! (Since Saturday I have also made your apricot jam and lemon curd, though I added in some fresh passionfruit pulp-which makes it even better.)

    • Nancy

    I made this cake last night and it was absolutely delicious and moist! I got a little nervous though when I was hand grating the zucchini because it was producing a lot of extra liquid which I was afraid would effect the consistency of the cake. I tried pouring most of it off but didn’t know if you experienced any problems like mine.

    Thank you for the wonderful recipe idea,

    • Cheryl Arkison

    We just got a large zucchini from our CSA and I was going to default to chocolate zucchini cake. I’m baking this instead!

    • Lynn

    I returned home from vacation this week to find two massive zucchinis in our garden. I used one to make this cake last night with pecans and I grated some lemon zest into the batter as suggested. It was fabulous and the folks at work and at home just loved it! The only problem I had is that I must not have prepared my bundt pan well enough because the top of the cake stuck to the pan. Despite missing its top crust, the cake looked great after I glazed it and cut it into serving sizes, and nobody was the wiser. That lemon glaze is awesome! Thanks for a delicious recipe that came at just the right time. I’m going to make another one with our second huge zucchini this weekend!

    • Shannon

    Thanks for the link and the answer, David. I had actually read that post before and just forgot about it! Anyway, I’ll use 650 for the cake when I make it this weekend. By the way, I like what the Chow post said: “flour, like wine, reflects terroir.” This explains why every sack of flour I buy here in Poland is labeled with the region where it’s produced. I used to think that was a bit silly, but now I know I just need to bone up on my regions so I can pick flour from the one best suited to my baking needs. Anyway, thanks again!

    • Tracy

    This was a huge hit with my family. It only used up *one* large zucchini though….

    I was worried about the amount of liquid coming off the grated zucchini, too. I left behind what juices collected in the bowl and let the zucchini drip a bit before I added it. But there was no smoothing out the batter in the pan, because the batter was quite wet. I had to bake the cake an extra 10 minutes or so, and I think it might be helpful to let the grated zucchini drain in a strainer while the rest of the cake is prepared.

    The lemon zest in the cake is lovely, and the lemon glaze divine. I’m thinking of adding some raisins next time.

    Thanks again, David!

    • David

    Nancy & Tracy: When I read through the recipe, I too was thinking “Do I need to drain the grated zucchini?” Then after I grated it, there wasn’t any liquid; it was quite dry so there wasn’t any need. (Which was why the recipe didn’t say to do it, I suppose.)

    However if you do find it has liquid in it, I would imagine it would be best to drain any off.

    • Josephine

    I just made a mocha chocolate chip zucchini cake this evening to use up some of my surplus. Since my family loves anything with lemon icing or glaze, I’ll have to try this next. Sounds delicious and healthier than the chocolate one.

    • Kathy

    I made several changes successfully, and this cake is yummy.
    First, I used whole wheat pastry flour (180g) and pulverized buckwheat groats to a flour (100g) in place of all-purpose flour.
    Next, I added grated zest from half a large Meyer lemon and could have used all the zest.
    Then, I reduced the oil to 3/4 cup and reduced the sugar to 1-1/3 cups (240g).
    It took me a few days to work up the courage to reduce the oil and sugar but this worked very well for me.
    I might prefer Meyer lemon sorbet to the glaze.
    Thanks for the post, David.

    • Brooke


    Thank you so much for sharing a fabulous recipe! This is a perfect snack cake without the glaze and is a lovely treat with it! I toasted some pecans and decreased the sugar to 1 1/2 cups. I also used all white whole wheat flour.

    I am in love :)

    • kayenne

    for those who cannot take nuts, i think it is possible to just omit it in this case, as there is enough flour to give structure. but as mentioned above, it would change the texture a little and the batter might be a little wetter.

    i don’t have zucchini on hand right now.. maybe i will try this with squash, which i have plenty of at the moment. the spices are right for it – like a pumpkin pie cake!


    have you ever used almond oil in baking? i happen to pick up a can while waiting for my connecting flight in dubai… and all i see online are ways of using it for the skin and that it is good in salads. i’m assuming it is sweet almond oil, it doesn’t say otherwise. brand is Well’s.

    btw, i want to thank you for including the weight measures in your recipes. i’ve long since switched to baking by weight, and it helps a lot, especially when making double or triple batches. plus, i get more consistent results.

    -kayenne =^_^=

    • Bridget in GA

    Thank you for posting this as well! I just it this morning as a birthday cake to take into work and like the others, added some freshly ground cardammon and the lemon zest you suggested. Very tasty and I won’t tell anyone about using olive oil until after they’ve had some!
    Merci beaucoup!

    • Dawn in Chicago

    This recipe is perfect exactly as written. The cake was ultra moist and flavorful. The lemon glaze is a keeper! I’m going to try it on ginger cookies. For this recipe, I used 3 mini loaf pans so I could give a couple to the neighbor who has been nice enough to share his bumper crop with me. I baked for 50 minutes and turned once. They turned out beautifully. I plan on making this again. Thanks David….love your blog and your recipes! :)

    • Dee

    I made this cake on the weekend and was VERY impressed! I love the spices and it was extremely moist. My icing, however, didn’t harden like yours did (perhaps the cake was too warm?). Would definitely make again. thanks so much for posting!

    • kayenne

    why are there two sugars in the glaze? is the granulated sugar necessary for the crunchiness or does it serve another purpose?


    -kayenne =^_^=

    • Marjorie


    I have used zucchini in baking for many years and have always wondered if the size of the zucchini in baking makes a difference. I have learned that using a very large zucchini in savory dishes the flavor is lost. Do you think the same applies to baking?

    • Rachel

    Thanks for this wonderful recipe!
    I was fortunate enough to be overloaded with zucchini, and made this yesterday.
    I used a normal cake pan (didn’t have a bundt tin)and found although cooked to time, when turned out onto he rack..the middle was still mush!
    I was so worried, as the spicy scent had driven me to a starving mess & couldn’t think of giving up!…I returned the cake to the oven (mushy middle upwards) & baked again….the result was superb! Moist, almond-y, nutmeg-y lushness!
    Thank-you again!

    • Rennie

    I adore this cake! I swapped in 1/2 C spelt flour for regular flour, because I have been enjoying experimenting with spelt since I tried Kim Boyce’s olive oil cake. Spelt lends a luscious, subtle caramel flavor and tight crumb, but overall I prefer to keep it in a supporting role so that white flour can maintain the ideal structure.

    I have been storing the cake wrapped in the refrigerator, and it has stayed fresh for almost 5 days now! It isn’t drying out the way that butter-based cakes do, and the glaze is still crunchy. My girlfriend didn’t care for what she called the “grittiness” of the glaze. I am okay with it, but I am thinking about creating a glaze with a bit of olive oil next time, to really perfume the cake with that seductive olive oil aroma.

    • Peggy

    So glad I checked your blog the other day as I have gobs of zucchini in my garden. I halved this recipe, knowing that I would be the only one in the house to eat it – and eat it I did. It baked up beautifully in a loaf pan and the lemon glaze was such a refreshing change from cream cheese frosting and it meshed so well with the zucchini and spices. Definitely a keeper!

    • Lou

    Hi David,

    I made this cake for work yesterday, and it impressed. So much so, that two of my co-workers went home that night and made it, too. Success!

    P.S. I’m making it again for the family this weekend. Thanks for this keeper!

    • Jelly Shot Test Kitchen

    David, I am not usually a “zucchini in cake person”, but with this recipe you may have won me over!!!

    • Jen

    David, help! I just made this and it has puffed up way more than I imagined. When I take it out of the pan, it definitely won’t sit flat (it’s been out of the oven for about 8 minutes and hasn’t shrunk one bit…)

    I used “levure chimique” for “baking powder” and my good ol’ box of Arm and Hammer (thanks, Mom!) for “baking soda”, using your quantities. We had two bags of French 45 flour so I used that.

    Where did I go wrong?

    • cecedon

    Having an abundance of zucchini from my garden I think this cake will be the perfect treat for my children tonight. I’m going to try it with crystalized ginger and gluten free flour (my own mix) and I’ll let you know how it turns out. Can’t wait to try it.

    • julie

    My second of this zucchini cake is in the oven now (the first one was originally made for a dinner party gift for a dinner party that was cancelled. We savored every last bit for the following week to come.) It was so delicious that when I got more zucchini from our organic “panier” and another invite, I had to make another one. I’ve been missing it since we finished that last piece.
    A cup of olive oil is a little too rich for me, so I used a half cup and 125ml plain yogurt and it was so moelleux and delicious, while keeping the olive oil flavor. Used a loaf pan and cupcakes for the overflow. the cupcakes worked well with the glaze, but were more dry and not as good as the cake.
    Oh, and i ordered the book for my fiancé, who used to live in sicily.

    • cecedon

    My cake turned out fabulous. I used 8.82 oz of gluten free flour (brown and white rice mixture with corn starch and xanthan gum) the consistency was perfect. I put about 1/2 teaspoon of lemon zest in the mix as suggested in your notes at the top. I also used crystalized ginger finely chopped instead of ground ginger. I ended up toasting the walnuts whole in butter and agave nectar and then finely chopping them. The result was a perfect cake. The only change I think I’d make for next time is a little less lemon in the glaze, it was just a little too much for the kids and I.

    • ALyson

    I made this cake the other night and am thrilled with the results. I baked it in bread loaf pans, because I need to go buy a bundt, and accidentally forgot the vanilla, but it still tasted great. The crunchy lemon glaze is the best part. I brought the leftovers into work this morning and the best compliment of the day was from someone who said, “The flavors in this cake are so complex and delicate, I never would have expected it from a home baker.” Win.

    Thanks for the great recipe; I will be making it again!

    • Miss Cupcake

    I made this cake last night sans nuts because I burnt them while grating the nutmeg and in two square disposable cake pans and it was dynamite. I took it to a party and the people there devoured it. I can’t wait to try more desserts with olive oil, to buy this cookbook and to eat this cake again. Thanks so much for sharing. The cake is divine!

    • Welsh1

    This cake is amazing and I would very much like to use it in the Baking program I’m currently enrolled in (you would get full credit). I have to make a 10″ triple layer cake for my final project, do you think if I scaled the recipe up it would work. I’m also looking for suggestions as to the filling and icing. I love the lemon glaze and would like to incorporate something similar, perhaps in the filling. My current plan is to ice it and decorate it with a combination of toasted nuts around the base and perhaps candied lemon peel around the top.

    PS. I’ve just purchased ‘Ready for Dessert’ and ‘The Perfect Scoop’ having sworn off cookbooks quite some time ago – I just couldn’t resist and am very happy that I didn’t.

    • Kristi

    Made this for today’s Labor Day potluck picnic. It was wonderful! A lighter, fluffier version of zucchini bread. I was kind of worried because when mixing the sugar, eggs and oil it never looked like anything I would call “fluffy.” That always throws me off in recipes but then I’m fairly literal. It also broke into four pieces when I tried to dump it out of my pan. Totally my fault but I was able to squish it back together and the glaze did a good job of hiding it, though it wasn’t as white as yours. I put a little lemon zest in my glaze because I love lemon! About half was eaten by the time we left and it was competing with brownies and cupcakes, etc. Thanks again for a great recipe!

    • Catarina

    This cake is in my Top 3 David, it’s amazing how every single ingredient mingles in an unique flavor. And the glaze is the piece de resistance. I got amazed after every single bite. Thank you for the recipe!

    • Gal

    This looks delicious.
    However, does the cake have a strong olive oil taste to it? Is it perhaps better to replace the olive oil with other vegetable oil that is less prominent, such as canola or soy oil?

    • Kerry

    Hi Gal,

    No, the cake doesn’t taste of olive oil. this was a huge hit. i made this with fresh zucchini this summer and my dad, a big lemon lover, told my mom to get the recipie. I made the two loaves and they cooked through perfectly.


    • Mona-Lynn

    I made this cake today to the letter except that I reduced the sugar a bit. It turned out just fantastic. I took it to playgroup for my son’s birthday and they all raved about it, and have now passed around the link to this page. I roasted the walnuts well in advance and it made a huge difference. People commented that the crunchiness of the walnuts really added to the character of the cake. A lot of them had never heard of zucchini cakes. A big hit!

    • Mary Gage

    I look forward to trying this cake. Interested in your comment about silicone patty brush. Was about to replace a worn boar bristle one and thought I’d try silicone but read this article in Food and Wine. What do you think?

    • Courtney

    I loooove spiced zucchini bread just like this!! I love it with nuts and lots of spice!
    That said, not to detract from the deliciousness of the recipe, I just want to mention, consider making this bread with yellow squash or a combo of zucchini and yellow squash, omit nuts and switch the spices for 3-4T of fresh lemon juice and lots of lemon zest.

    • Terry

    Thank you for bringing this cake back up top again. I have a very well-worn copy of Dolce Italiano, but haven’t made this recipe. Can’t wait to make this. She was a fabulous baker.

    • cynthia

    What a heart breaking narration of Gina’s life and death via the link to the Edible Manhattan article. I’m glad she was able to make baking her life (short as it was) and I’m glad you brought her some relief with your big smile and sense of humor.

    • Eliza

    Hello David! I set off to made this cake within minutes of opening your email this morning. I had a bit of a disaster inverting the bundt pan, but it turns out that the crunchy lemon glaze does a great job as a pastry glue as well, so the cake was salvaged nicely. It is fantastic and my house smells amazing as well. I shared with a neighbor and she just asked for the recipe, so I suppose Gina’s cake is about to make the rounds here in Portland. I was intrigued by her story and read up some more on her career. She seems like an amazing chef, and I think it’s wonderful that you honored her memory here by sharing this recipe today. I realized after reading more about her that I spent my morning baking a feminist cake! PS: I see in other comments from 2011 that folks added lemon zest and cardamom to their versions, apparently based on your suggestion, but I didn’t see that recommendation from you in the current blog post. If I were to add these flavors, what amounts would you recommend? Or perhaps you’ve decided not to add these ingredients?

    • dana

    I love this recipe and book. I miss Gina De Palma so much! I used to “chat” back and forth on her blog. I can only imagine what she went through working for Mario Battali and battling cancer. I hate that she never seemed to relax.

    • Hena Tayeb

    That looks scrumptious.

    • Lori A Cooper

    This was absolutely delicious, and I left out the nuts. My neighbor, who grew the gigantic zucchini I used for the cake, loved it, too!

    • Karen S

    Immediately made this today. Wow, delicious! Is it the olive oil that give it such an amazing, plush texture?

    • Katie Russo

    Just made this and it was DELICIOUS, thank you David. I subbed in gluten free flour and it is so lovely and moist. I only had a ring pan so I made it in that and two small loaf tins. I will put the small loaves in the freezer which will be handy considering my city has just gone back into lockdown (Melbourne, Australia). Stay safe everyone!

      • David
      David Lebovitz

      Thanks for letting us know that it works with gluten-free flour. People often ask me (and I don’t use it) so appreciate your feedback…enjoy the cake! (And stay safe in Melbourne…)

    • Victoria Carr

    I made this cake and served it with homemade sweet cream ice cream; it was perfect in every way, even popped out of the bundt pan with no problem. I tried a Shirley Corriher trick with the nuts. I toasted them at 350°F for 10 minutes, stirring after 5. Then right before I put them into the food processor, I added a little butter and let it melt over them. I don’t know if it made a difference in the recipe, but they were definitely crunchy and good. The lemon glaze adds a lot to the delicious-ness. Excellent recipe. Thanks for posting.

    • Amy

    I made the cake a few minutes after I read the post and I think this is the best zucchini cake I’ve ever tasted! I took your advice and kept the glaze, which I rarely do, and I’ve just finished my third piece of it. The one good thing about being quarantined is that I’ve discovered some wonderful recipes! I used the Royal Cinnamon and Stone Nutmeg from Burlap and Barrel. Since the cinnamon is such a major player in this, it made it pretty spectacular! Thank you for remembering her and posting the recipe again! I have at least three of your recipes in my COVID collection (hello, artichoke tapenade). Stay safe!

      • David
      David Lebovitz

      Glad you made the glaze! Yes, it really makes the cake wonderful : )

    • Victoria Carr

    This is a real question. I’ve been cooking dinner since I was 20 years old, but it was only in my retirement that I have started to learn to bake – beyond the odd cake here and there. I generally rely on recipes with weights because they are easy and foolproof to follow. You have weights with this recipe, but I suspect the cookbook does not. What are your suggestions for us baking with books with no weights? Do you have weights for ordinary ingredients that you always use, even if the recipe is not one of yours? Perhaps it would be a post that would interest a lot of your readers. Any advice would be most appreciated. Thanks.

      • David
      David Lebovitz

      Most baking books these days also include weights in the U.S. There so many baking books that it’s best to go into a bookstore and see which books interest you and see if they include weights. (Amazon has a “Look inside the book” feature also that allows you to flip through books.) You can use Google to convert measurements, by typing “1 cup in ml” in the search engine and some websites have conversion guides. Two good ones are King Arthur and Cafe Fernando.

        • Becky

        Fantastic cake! I used half white whole wheat. Really delicious! Thanks for the recipe. I will be making this cake again.

    • Karen Roseth

    Peeled or unpeeled?

      • Flor

      I did not peel the zucchini since David’s picture showed the dark green skins. :)

        • Karen


    • Flor

    Hi David!

    Long time reader, first time commenter. :) I made the recipe exactly as outlined, but I did it in (2) 9×5 loaf pans. The baking time was 45-50 minutes. One loaf was a little taller so it required the extra 5 minutes. There was a tiny bit of liquid with the zucchini, so I just drained it without drying it out too much. I think this recipe works best in a bundt pan as suggested, if the glaze will be used. It allows for the glaze to get in all the nooks and crannies of a bundt.

    • Tobie

    I made this last night for the first time. This is the best zucchini cake/bread I’ve ever tasted. I used my wonderful meyer lemons in the glaze. Yummmm. Thank you David!

    • Janice

    I made this gluten-free by substituting 1 cup of King Arthur’s Gluten-Free Flour plus 1/4 tsp of xanthan gum, 1/2 cup of buckwheat flour and 1/2 cup of almond meal. Had to bake for longer to make sure it was cooked through, but it was really delicious!

      • David
      David Lebovitz

      Thanks for letting us know how you made is gluten-free!

    • sybnk

    Years ago I worked at a cookware store in Manhattan where Gina had worked for a while and she would come to the store to shop and chat. She was delightful.

    • Monica

    Stupid me, I totally forgot to toast almond before baking. I know how much it makes difference in the final product. Still, it was super yummy. I always tend to cut down the sugar by at 1/3 but in this case, I regretted doing that.

    • donna

    I have now made this 3 times in the past 2 weeks…the first one vanished by the next day. I normally am not into glazes but this really does add something special to the cake. YUM! My bundt and tube pans are packed so I made it in a springform and it came out beautifully. I just had to keep it in the oven a little longer. Bravo David! It is splendid and my new favorite way to eat the abundance of zucchini we have!

      • David
      David Lebovitz

      We don’t get a variety of different plums in Paris (they are resolutely into Mirabelles, Reine Claudes and Quetsches) but perhaps in the countryside you might find different kinds of plums like those but I suspect if they are a California plum, like Santa Rosas, they might not be available here.

    • Dianne Star

    Merci for sharing this recipe! Also reside in France (Chartres) since Oct 2019. Have to re-build cuisine as far as equipment is concerned. No stand mixer for now, have a multi-function processor / immersion blender / whisk purchased at LeClerc. Choosing the whisk – and 1/2 recipe in a loaf pan. courgettes (Zucchini) from friend’s garden – magnifique! Only caveat – read your post on “French Sugars” too late. Purchased the equivalent to castor sugar and not confectioners sugar. Too lazy to create my own, glazed with granulated sugar and lemon juice. One word…YUMMMMMM!

    • chloe, seattle

    This is truly a perfect cake. Very forgiving. Thanks so much for sharing it, David.
    Notes to all with a haphazard COVID pantry like mine – this all worked:
    – Random garden zucchini ended up being more like 3c grated, unsqueezed
    – whole wheat flour
    – used 2c sugar… oops. Still wasn’t too sweet.
    – 2 tsp b soda and zero b pwdr
    – fresh ginger (no pwdr)
    – did it all in the food processor
    – Mini loaf pans = Still took about 40 min
    I’ll make this cake forever, it’s so dreamy. xoxo

    • Holly

    I love this recipe. One of my all time favourite cakes (I’ve made quite a few!).
    Though I do adapt it slightly, and put about 100g less sugar in the cake mixture.
    And zest the lemons that will later be used in the glaze into the cake mix :) yumm

    • Debra

    This is a beautiful and delicious cake. We actually sat down at the kitchen table and ate a slice of cake before dinner.

    • swingkat

    I made the recipe almost to the letter except for cutting down on the sugar in the cake by about 100 g. I kept the glaze but I think I might’ve mistakenly added too much lemon juice or too little powdered sugar so while it looked whitish when I was stirring it together, it looked more like a syrup when I brushed it on, and the next day it looked shiny and sugary but not white. Anyway, it was DELICIOUS :). The granulated sugar added a nice crunch and you could taste the lemon. And the cake itself was so good, moist but not dense. I took it to work and came back with just one slice that I managed to save so my husband could taste it. Thanks for a wonderful recipe!

    • Sarah P

    Delicious, David! Made a few minor changes (made in a muffin tin, added a bit of whole wheat flour, and almond meal as sub for the nuts, since I didn’t have any whole nuts in the house). I followed all of the great advice and did NOT skip the glaze! My 18 month old has been eating these for breakfast :)

    • Samantha

    looooved this recipe! it came together so quickly and we ate it over the past week. Will definitely be making this again. X

    • Derriere

    I’ve made this cake twice with the excess zucchini in the garden, and it’s a hit each time! I cut down on the sugar a bit the second time around. With the glaze, the cake is a dream. Thank you, David!

    • Nyer

    Hi David, I’m having problems viewing your website on my phone. I keep getting a message that my request to view is being redirected. It never fully redirects and loads. Fyi, I’m using an iphone. Can you please see if there is an issue on your end? I was hoping to text a link for this recipe to a friend. Thanks.

    • Howard M Chase

    Bonjour David
    Please resist any effort to change your recipes. After all when you cook you are using your local ingredients and tasting with your palate. Follow the advise CHOOSE, TASTE and ADJUST.
    J’adore vos recettes!

    • Shana

    Just made this on Friday & we’ve been enjoying a slice daily since. Perfect recipe! It was so good I had to walk two pieces over to my parents to sample.

    Only adjustments I made were for high-altitude baking.

    • Melisa

    This cake is one of the best I have ever made and I bake a loooot. It’s just perfectly balanced, I get to use up all my zucchinis from the garden and the texture is just a dream. thanks for sharing this one with us!

    • Debbie

    What a surreal moment. My cake is out of the oven and cooling and I’m watching Beat Bobby Flay. And who comes on to judge the Olive oIl cake bake off? David!

    • Leasy B

    I only had two eggs, so I did my best to cut the recipe down to two-thirds, and made it into mini-muffins. It was delicious, and I considered my last two eggs well spent! I used a #40 scoop, and the reduced recipe made about 3-dozen. To glaze the muffins I let them cool just a few minutes, and then dunked the tops in the icing. I loved the slight crunch to the icing, and the texture and flavor the finely chopped pecans added.

      • David
      David Lebovitz

      Glad it was a hit and you were able to make it work as mini-muffins. They sound delightful!

    • Judi

    Hello David, I have been following you ever since I moved to Cancale in 2015. Is there a chance any of your recipes are translated into French? I made the zucchini cake for my French and Italian friends here and they are asking for the recipe. I would have to translate it, but if you already have it…that would be great.

      • David
      David Lebovitz

      Not that I know of. Sometimes bloggers make recipes but I don’t know if any (or this one) have been translated into other languages.

        • Judi

        Thank you.

    • Jan

    Hi David, I made this cake twice last summer I love it. I’d like to make it for birthday parties this summer and I want to do it now before the zucchini quits producing from my garden. Here’s my dumb question how do I warm up the cake after it’s frozen to get the glaze to adhere? Thank you

    • Angela

    My husband and I absolutely LOVE this recipe! I have many many apples that I need to use and am wondering if I can chop and add to this cake, thinking that the tartness of Granny Smith may be a nice addition. Anyone have any thoughts on this?

    • Christine H

    This cake is a winner! Not too sweet, and I love that it uses up LOTS of grated zucchini! I wonder if adding zest from the lemon would go well-I’d bet yes! I might cut the sugar down a little next time – but there absolutely will be a next time!

    • Pam-Anela Messenger

    the ingredient list does NOT include eggs but the instructions say to beat them with the sugar.

      • David
      David Lebovitz

      Pam-Anela, In the ingredient list, the ninth ingredient, is “3 large eggs.” (No need to write in all-caps if you have a question about a recipe. Happy to answer queries from readers about them regardless.)
      : )

    • Emily

    Well, I’m 11 years late to this, but I’ve successfully made this cake gluten-free many times. Posting here in case some other reader is interested:
    In place of 2 cups flour, I used 1/2 cup each brown rice flour, tapioca flour, light buckwheat flour, and white rice flour.

    I’ve also made this with only 1 cup sugar and 1/2 cup oil and it becomes more like a zucchini bread, texture is fine and still delicious.

      • David
      David Lebovitz

      Thanks for letting us know the gluten-free variation!


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