This gluten free zucchini cake recipe combines ground roasted hazelnuts, oats and buckwheat to make a healthier cake that’s soft and delicious!
A zucchini cake – despite what you might initially think! – can be an incredibly sweet, delicious treat. Zucchini is a particularly versatile vegetable that is perfect for baked goods because it’s soft, adds moisture, and doesn’t have an overpowering flavour. Brownies, muffins, loaves and cakes can all be given a little healthy twist with a helping of zucchini.
This particular zucchini cake was indirectly inspired by the Great British Bake Off. My office decided we needed to have our own little bake off each week, and this was my contribution to “Healthy Week” – of course the only week I’m really well equipped to contribute to! I adapted this recipe from the Gluten Free Zucchini Cake by Minimalist Baker – I love the recipes on this blog, they’re always so gorgeously photographed and inspiring.
For the icing, I chose to cover this zucchini cake in a classic creamy frosting, but lightened it up a little by using ricotta and Greek yoghurt, only slightly sweetened with honey, cinnamon and vanilla. For an extra-thick, more solid icing, if you have the time I’d recommend straining the mixture for at least a few hours (or overnight) in a muslin cloth. This will strain some of the whey out of the yoghurt and cheese and leave you with a thicker icing. If you’d like to do this, I have popped directions in the recipe notes below. I’ve also suggested some alternative dairy-free frosting options in the recipe notes, if you need to keep this cake dairy free.
Now, on to this delicious zucchini cake recipe…
Gluten Free Oat, Hazelnut and Zucchini Cake
- 140 grams hazelnuts (1 cup)
- 120 grams gluten free rolled oats (1 1/3 cups)
- 100 grams buckwheat flour (3/4 cup)
- 125 grams coconut sugar (1 cup, loosely packed)
- 25 grams tapioca flour (3 tbsp)
- 1 tsp bicarb soda
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- 5 eggs
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil (60 mL)
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 200 grams zucchini (1 1/2 cups grated)
- 250 grams ricotta cheese
- 1/2 cup unsweetened Greek yoghurt
- 3-5 tbsp honey or maple syrup (or other liquid sweetener)
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
- Preheat oven to 180 C and line a 9-inch (23cm) square or round cake tin* with non-stick baking paper along the base and sides.
- Spread the hazelnuts out on a small oven-safe tray or dish. Roast for 7-10 minutes until slightly darkened (they’ll smell lovely and toasted) then remove and allow to cool to room temperature.
- While the hazelnuts are cooling, continue with the prep. Place the oats in a food processor or strong blender and pulse until ground into a coarse flour. Then, add to a large bowl along with the buckwheat flour, tapioca flour, coconut sugar, baking powder, bicarb soda, salt and cinnamon. Set aside.
- In a separate bowl, whisk together the five eggs, then whisk in the olive oil and vanilla extract. Grate the zucchini and stir into the egg mixture. Set aside.
- Once the hazelnuts have cooled, place these into the food processor or blender and pulse until they form a coarse crumbly flour. (It’s okay if some small chunks of hazelnut remain; you don’t want to pulse for too long, otherwise the nuts will release their oil and break down to a nut butter!)
- Add the hazelnuts to the rest of the dry ingredients you put together earlier, and stir everything until combined. Then, pour in the egg-oil-zucchini mixture into the dry ingredients and stir again until you have a consistent batter.
- Scoop the batter into the lined cake tin and smooth down evenly into the tin. Bake for approximately 45-50 minutes, or until the top of the cake is a deep golden brown and feels firm to touch in the centre. The top might develop a few cracks too as it’s cooking, this is normal. (You can also test by inserting a skewer into the middle of the cake, it should come out clean or just with a few dry crumbs).
- Once the cake is done let it cool in the tin for ten minutes then place on a wire rack to cool to room temperature.
- While the cake is cooling, continue make the icing. Combine the ricotta, yoghurt, honey, cinnamon and vanilla until smooth. Start with 3 tbsp of honey, taste test and add more if needed. Once the cake is cooled, spread icing evenly across the top of the cake.
- Store the cake in the refrigerator; it should keep about 5 days. You can also freeze an un-iced version of the cake, it should keep well for 2-3 months if wrapped up well.
- combine yoghurt and ricotta in a bowl;
- set up a sieve/strainer (plastic or metal is fine) so that it sits over another large bowl, ensuring there’s a gap between the bowl and the strainer, at least 1 inch;
- line the strainer with a piece of muslin cloth/cheese cloth so that the cloth hangs comfortably over the edges of the strainer;
- scoop the yoghurt-ricotta mixture into the strainer;
- place the strainer, hanging over the bowl, in the fridge and leave for 3-4 hours minimum, or overnight;
- once the time has passed, gently lift the cloth out of the strainer and you’ll have a thick ball of yoghurt-ricotta to use as your icing;
- mix in the rest of the icing ingredients and use as frosting on the cake. There will be clear liquid (whey) strained into the bowl, this is a probiotic liquid and you can use it to soak some overnight oats for your next breakfast!
- thick coconut yoghurt;
- cashew cream (soak 1.5 cups cashews in water for 4-5 hours, strain, then use a blender or food processor to blend until smooth. Add a little coconut milk until you get the desired consistency. Sweeten with honey, maple syrup or another liquid sweetener of choice);
- a vegan “cream cheese” substitute (typically made with tofu. Try to choose an organic one with not too many additives).