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Lemon Zucchini Cake

Recipe Level: Easy

This lemon zucchini cake is fresh, bright and packs a zesty punch! It has 2 layers of a spongy, moist cake filled with zucchini and layered with two different types of lemony icing; a soft fluffy, lemon buttercream and a lemon glaze. This cake is for lemon lovers!

Baked by Alie Romano

Professional Baker and Recipe Developer

* Make sure to read the entire blog post. Every step matters, and I’ll provide helpful tips along the way!

Whenever I dive into a recipe that requires zucchini I think of my Grandma. She was always so adventurous in the kitchen and seemed to have no limits when it came to trying something new. Summertime always reminds me of her the most. It was her favourite time of year with her gardens in full bloom, spending half her days digging in the dirt and the other half baking and cooking for the family.

When I started developing this recipe my thoughts came flooding back to her. On many occasions, I can remember my grandma making all sorts of zucchini bread and cakes using fresh zucchini from her garden. She’d never tell us kids that the cake was made with zucchini until after we all gobbled it up. As a kid, zucchini in a cake was the strangest thing around!! Now, I absolutely love the depth and moisture that zucchini gives in my baking!

Lemon Zucchini Cake with Sugared Lemons
Lemon Zucchini Cake with Sugared Lemons

Ingredients

Variations

  • Add limes for a zestier flavour
  • Add nuts like walnuts or pecans
  • Make a sheet cake in a 9×12″ pan and omit the buttercream icing
  • Make it gluten free by using your favouite gluten free flour blend
Lemon Zucchini Cake with Sugared Lemons
Lemon Zucchini Cake with Sugared Lemons

Tips for Making a Lemon Zucchini Cake

  1. Use a medium sized cheese grater to grate zucchini. You don’t want the zucchini to be too fine that it becomes mushy within the cake.
  2. Lightly squeeze the zucchini in a cheesecloth, paper towel or clean cloth. You still want moisture within the zucchini so be careful not to squeeze out all the juice.
  3. Don’t overmix the batter! This is so important as a few extra folds will cause a tough, dense cake. Just mix the batter until the ingredients come together and then stop!
  4. Make sure all your ingredients are at room temperature. This will help avoid overmixing.
  5. Watch your bake time carefully! This cake doesn’t brown easily so it’s difficult to tell if it’s done by just looking at it. Take the cake out and gently press the cake to see if it springs back or insert a toothpick in the centre and if it comes out clean the cake is done.
  6. Use fresh lemon juice for your icing as it gives a bright, zesty flavour.
  7. Add sugared lemons for an extra special cake.
Lemon Zucchini Cake with Sugared Lemons
Lemon Zucchini Cake with Sugared Lemons

How to Make a Lemon Zucchini Cake

Step One: Grate zucchini and set aside. Make your batter by whisking together the sugar, vegetable oil, eggs, lemon rind and buttermilk. Add dry ingredients.

Step Two: Mix dry ingredients just until combined and you can still see flour. Add the grated zucchini and gently fold in to incorporate. Be very careful not to overmix! Pour into prepared pans and bake.

Step Three: Once the cakes cool, place one cake on your cake stand. Top with buttercream icing, and spread the icing out so it’s nice and thick. Now, flip the other cake upside down so the bottom is now on the top.

Step Four: Spread the glaze over the top of the cake, letting it fall off the edges.

Step Five: Dust the top with icing sugar, sliced lemons or sugared lemons.

Lemon Zucchini Cake with Sugared Lemons
Lemon Zucchini Cake with Sugared Lemons
Print

Lemon Zucchini Cake

This lemon zucchini cake is fresh, bright and packs a zesty punch! It has 2 layers of a spongy, moist cake filled with zucchini and is layered with two different types of lemony icing; a soft fluffy, lemon buttercream and a lemon glaze. This cake is for lemon lovers!

  • Author: Alie Romano
  • Prep Time: 20 mins
  • Cook Time: 22 mins
  • Total Time: 42 mins
  • Yield: 18” inch cake 1x
  • Category: Dessert
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: American

Ingredients

Units Scale
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 3 large eggs, at room temperature
  • Rind of 1 lemon
  • 1/4 cup buttermilk or soured milk* at room temperature
  • 2 cups grated zucchini, lightly squeezed (approx. 2 medium zucchinis)

Buttercream Icing (middle layer)

  • 1/3 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 1/4 cups icing sugar
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons whipping cream (or milk)

Glaze Icing (top layer)

  • 2 cups icing sugar, sifted
  • 1 Tablespoon lemon juice
  • 23 Tablespoons warm water (approx. may need to add a few more teaspoons)

Sugared Lemons

Instructions

Note: If decorating with sugared lemons they need to be made a day or two ahead.

  1. Preheat oven to 350˚F. Line two 8” cake pans with parchment paper and grease the sides. Set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, mix together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
  3. In a separate bowl whisk sugar with vegetable oil until well incorporated. Add eggs, lemon rind and buttermilk.  Mix well.
  4. Combine dry ingredients in two batches to wet ingredients; mix just until combined and you can still see flour. Add the grated zucchini and gently fold in to incorporate. Be careful not to overmix!
  5. Divide the batter evenly into your prepared cake pans.
  6. Bake for 18-20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean. Note: the cakes will not look overly brown so be careful not to overbake.
  7. Let the cakes cool on cooling racks for 5 minutes, then release the cakes from the pan and flip them upside down to cool completely.
  8. Meanwhile, make your buttercream icing. In a bowl add butter, icing sugar, lemon juice and whipping cream. Beat with a hand mixer until light and fluffy. Set aside.
  9. Once the cakes are at room temperature, place one cake on your cake stand. Top with all of the buttercream icing, pushing the majority of the icing to the edges so it’s nice and thick. Flip the other cake upside down so the bottom is now on the top, press down gently. For a flat, even cake trim the cakes using a bread knife before stacking.
  10. Make your glaze. In a bowl add sifted icing sugar and lemon juice. Slowly add warm water, 1 tablespoon at a time and mix until you reach the consistency you like. You want it to be thick enough to hold but soft and pliable enough to fall off the cake a little. I ended up adding 3 more teaspoons of water to get the icing a little thinner.
  11. Spread the glaze over the top of the cake, letting it fall off the edges. Let the icing dry for 10-15 minutes.
  12. Top with icing sugar, sliced lemons or sugared lemons (optional).

Notes

  • *Soured milk – make soured milk by adding 1 teaspoon lemon juice to 1/4 cup milk, stir and let sit for 5 minutes or until thickened and starting to curdle. 

Store the cake in a cake dome or covered in plastic at room temperature for up to 3 days or freeze the cake in plastic wrap for up to one month.

Decorate with sugared lemons once ready to serve and keep away from moisture as the sugar will melt away from the lemons.

Nutrition

  • Serving Size: 1 slice of 18
  • Calories: 256
  • Sugar: 19.8g
  • Sodium: 144mg
  • Fat: 12.7g
  • Saturated Fat: 4.2g
  • Unsaturated Fat: 0
  • Trans Fat: 0
  • Carbohydrates: 33.6g
  • Fiber: 0.6g
  • Protein: 3.2g
  • Cholesterol: 41mg

Keywords: Zucchini, Cake, Lemon

Did you make this recipe?

Write a review and let me know!

Share a photo and tag me on Instagram @bakingforfriends_

I can’t wait to see what you’ve made! xo alie

FAQ’s

Do I need to peel the zucchini before grating it?

No, there is no need to peel the zucchini before grating it. In fact, leaving the skin on adds colour and texture to your zucchini cake.

How long will lemon zucchini cake last?

Store a lemon zucchini cake in a cake dome or covered in plastic at room temperature for up to 3 days or freeze the cake in plastic wrap for up to one month.

Can I use frozen grated zucchini in my zucchini cake?

It’s best to use freshly grated zucchini when making a cake as there will be a lot of extra moisture in frozen zucchini. If you do use frozen zucchini make sure to let it defrost completely and squeeze out any extra liquid.

Can I use a different type of citrus fruit instead of lemon in my zucchini cake?

Yes, limes also go great with zucchini or a combination of lemon and limes.

This blog post has been sponsored by Bulk Barn Canada where you can find all your baking needs! All opinions are my own and I’m so happy to work with brands I love so I can continue to share these recipes with all of you! I hope you guys get to a Bulk Barn soon and try out this recipe.

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Spread some love with these cute heart shaped sandwich cookies. Each cookie features a soft buttery sugar cookie, filled with sweet raspberry buttercream icing and topped with pink sugar crystals for a crispy bite. They make the perfect cookie for Valentine's Day or any special occasion. 

Alie Romano

Meet

Alie

I'm a professional baker, recipe developer & photographer behind Baking For Friends. I specialize in classic & comforting baking. I hope you enjoy the recipes & find inspiration of your own to bring your family & friends together over home-cooked food!

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