Cookbook author and British food star Nigella Lawson was given this family recipe by Flora Woods of London's "Books for Cooks" shop. What sets it apart is using lemon or lime curd (store-bought is fine) as a filling. The cake is topped off with a cream cheese frosting that's been given a citrusy zing from lime or lime juice.
- For the cake
- 1/4 cup raisins (optional)
- 2 to 3 small (12 ounces) zucchini, ends trimmed
- 2 large eggs
- 1/2 cup vegetable oil
- 9 tablespoons sugar
- 1 1/2 cups self-rising flour
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- For the frosting
- 6 ounces cream cheese, softened
- 2 cups confectioners' sugar, sifted
- 3 tablespoons lemon juice or lime juice, or to taste
- 1 jar (10 ounces) lemon or lime curd (available in most supermarkets, with the jellies and jams)
- 2 to 3 tablespoons chopped pistachio nuts, for garnish
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour two 8-inch cake pans and line the bottoms with parchment or wax paper.
For the cake: If using raisins, put them in a bowl and cover with warm water to plump them, about 5 minutes. Drain and set aside.
Wash and pat dry the zucchini, but do not peel. Grate on the coarse side of an ordinary box grater; anything too fine or too quick can turn them to mush. Place grated zucchini in a sieve over the sink to drain.
In a medium bowl, combine the eggs, oil and sugar and beat until creamy. In a small bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda and baking powder. Add to the egg mixture; beat until well combined. Stir in the grated zucchini and add the drained raisins. Pour the mixture into the prepared pans, and bake for 30 minutes until slightly browned and firm to the touch. Place the pans on a rack to cool for 5 to 10 minutes, then turn out and let cool on the rack.
For the filling and frosting: In a medium bowl, beat the cream cheese until smooth; add the confectioners' sugar, beating well to combine, then stir in the lemon or lime juice to desired taste and consistency.
To assemble the cake, carefully peel off parchment or wax paper from the layers. Place one layer on a plate and spread lemon or lime curd on it. Put on the top layer and smear it thickly with the cream cheese frosting. If you think the frosting needs to be firmer, refrigerate the cake for a while. Just before serving, scatter chopped pistachios over the top.
Adapted from "How to Be a Domestic Goddess: Baking and the Art of Comfort Cooking," by Nigella Lawson (Hyperion, 2001).
Tested by Candy Sagon.
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