The first time I ever came across a zucchini cake was when I was still living in California. When my Caucasian neighbour had happily offered me her home baked zucchini loaf. Boy it was moist and delicious! I didn't think twice about it since my neighbour was a fabulous baker and can make anything taste great. And it seems that baking with this vegetable is pretty norm there, much like carrot cake. Somehow I never thought about baking it myself because the thought of a vegetable in a cake? Not happening. Well, at least that was how I felt back then.
Recent years, I have been using Zucchini more often in my savoury dishes. It is such a versatile vegetable! It is good for roasting, sautéing and even grilling. At the back of my mind I always remember that moist zucchini cake my neighbour gave me. Plus I knew I am long overdue for a healthy bake. Procrastinated no more, I finally baked my very own Wholewheat Chocolate Zucchini Cake with Crunchy Cornflake. And so so glad I did!
When I was formulating this recipe, I needed my ingredients to be on the healthier side. Besides incorporating wholewheat flour, less sugar, replacing butter with organic coconut oil, I also opted for MARIGOLD HL Chocolate Milk in place of the other brands available in the market. Why chocolate milk? Why not non-fat or low fat plain milk you say? Well, since I didn't want to compromise on the chocolaty flavour, using plain white milk just doesn't cut it.
This delicious milk is not only rich in Calcium, protein, and fortified with 9 Vitamins (Vitamins A, B1, B6, C, D3, E and K, Niacin and Panthonenic Acid) to supplement your daily requirement, it also contains a unique BonePlus formulation with vitamins K and D that aids in calcium absorption and improves bone strength. Enough said, I'm sold!
So without further ado, let us look at the ingredients and the step by step instructions for this delicious and healthy bake:
Ingredients for Wholewheat Chocolate Zucchini Cake
Main Cake Batter
300 g zucchini, stemmed
130 g cake flour
50 g wholewheat flour
25 g cocoa powder
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
100 g 75% cocoa chocolate bar, chopped (optional)
60 ml organic cold pressed coconut oil
130 ml MARIGOLD HL Chocolate Milk + 1 tsp fresh lemon juice
1 large egg (~ 50-55g without shell)
25 g caster sugar
80 g light brown sugar
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
Cornflake toppings (optional)
50 g plain cornflakes
40 g unsalted butter at room temp
40 g light brown sugar
Method for Crunchy Cornflake Toppings:
- Weigh out and combine everything together in a mixing bowl.
- Using your finger tips, crush the cornflakes a little when doing so. Mixture should look like the picture below. Place in fridge to chill, until ready for use later.
Method for Chocolate Zucchini Cake:
1) Make your very own low fat chocolate buttermilk (curdled milk) using MARIGOLD HL Low Fat Chocolate Milk. Add the lemon juice to the weighed out chocolate milk and let stand for 20 minutes at room temperature. You will notice it starts to curdle after a while.
2) Preheat the oven to 170C and grease your loaf tin and line with parchment paper.
3) Shred the zucchini. Mine are rather finely shredded, but you can use a coarser grate of your preference.
4) Scatter the shredded vegetable over a kitchen towel or two sheets of kitchen paper towels. Cover and lightly pat it down, leave it for 15 minutes. You do not want to extract out too much of its liquid as it will still contribute to the moisture of the cake.
5) In a large mixing bowl, whisk together cake flour, wholewheat flour, cocoa powder, salt, baking powder and baking soda. Stir in the chopped chocolate chunks. Mix well to combine.
6) In another mixing bowl, combine coconut oil, curdled chocolate milk and the egg. Then add in both sugars and vanilla extract. Whisk well to make sure it is uniformly incorporated.
7) Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients. Stir to combine but try not to over mix the batter. Lastly add in the shredded zucchini. Toss to combine.
8) Once the batter is well combined. Pour it into prepared greased and parchment lined pans.
Note: I used these nonstick mini loaf pans to bake. So I only lined the base with parchment paper and grease the paper again.
9) Now bake it in the preheated oven of 170C for 8 minutes. Once the oven beeps, carefully remove the cake pans out from the oven. You will notice that the cake is very slightly set on top. Now you sprinkle the crunchy cornflake topping over the top.
Note : If you opt not to put the cornflakes topping, you can just go ahead and bake the cakes for 25-30 minutes straight without removing it from the oven.
10) Carefully bring the cake back inside the oven again and bake for another 25-28 minutes or till the tester comes out clean or with fine moist crumbs. This step is essential as it will prevent the cornflake toppings from sinking into the cake batter.
Note: Mine is a smaller loaf tin size, so it took about 25-28 mins to bake. If you are using one standard 9x5x5 size loaf tin, bake for 35-38 minutes or when the tester comes out clean or with fine moist crumbs. For muffin size, bake them for 13-15 minutes.
11) Once baked, remove from oven and let cool on the rack for 15 minutes. Then remove from pan and cool completely before slicing.
Okay, that crunchy cornflake topping is totally optional. Omitting it will actually yield a healthier bake as no butter and lesser sugar will be introduced to the cake. So by all means, if you intend to make a healthier version, forget the cornflake toppings. But, I do love that sweet crunchy topping, much like honey coated cornflakes cereal, a perfect contrast to the soft cake. My whole family loves it!
But if you do not intend to consume the cake on the same day, I suggest not having the cornflake topping. It will soften a little the following day.
The cake was so rich is chocolate flavour, and I must say it not only comes from the cocoa powder and chocolate chunks, but also from the MARIGOLD HL Low Fat Chocolate milk I added in. Even when I drink the milk itself, the rich chocolaty flavour is very satisfying. Who would have thought something so rich is low fat and packed full of vitamins!
I have to say the cake was indeed a success. How so? When I gave them to my kids, they did not even suspect that there was vegetable in it...and to think that I added about 300 g of it in! No scent or taste of that zucchini. And I am really happy with the moist texture, the right amount of sweetness and perfect flavour.
I reckon if I were to remake this recipe using just plain flour and MARIGOLD HL Low Fat Milk the next time, I still won't taste the vegetables. But it will definitely be moist and delicious.
If that doesn't look moist and rich to you...I don't know what does. It is definitely not dense, but a nice cake bite to it which I find it really satisfying. Plus that crunchy cornflakes on top just gives it that perfect contrast in texture.
Hope you all will give this recipe a try. A healthier bake with "hidden" vegetables which your family especially the kids will love, perfect! Be sure to use MARIGOLD HL Low Fat Chocolate Milk for the best results in this recipe.
Definitely no regrets on my end, and I can finally say I baked my very own zucchini cake after so many years. Yay!
Happy Baking Folks!