Courgette Cake with Hazelnuts
Three years ago, for my mother’s 70th birthday, I brought my mother to Ireland. It was my third time visiting so I knew some places we had to visit together and Killruddery House, just outside of Dublin, was a must see. You may recognize Killruddery house from movies and television. It was a location for filming The Tudors, Excalibur, Ella Enchanted, My Left Foot, and even a new Netflix series, Fate; The Winx Saga. It really is a spectacular home. Built in 1618 it is still home to the same family. The grounds and gardens are beautiful. I walked and snapped photos for hours. Wouldn’t you love to have a huge soirée here? They host functions in the Orangery, the domed area of the house in my picture below.
Once 3:00 rolls around it’s tea time. Naturally, they have a Tea Room with freshly baked goods for sale. It’s a beautiful building, too, with an octagonal roof and encircled with robin’s egg blue painted iron trellises. From inside, the stained glass windows radiate a warm glow and creates a homey, cozy feeling as you’re looking over all their lovely treats.
I so enjoyed that cake, savoring each and every bite sitting peacefully beside the lavender and roses. The cake had a perfectly moist crumb, a sweet and creamy cream cheese frosting studded with hazelnuts. This was not your typical zucchini cake. This was light and scrumptious. I tried to get the Killruddery recipe but that didn’t work out so I decided I could recreate it myself at home. After some experimenting I think I nailed it. Below are two pictures of my latest rendition. I had a little fun with my piping bag. You don’t need to frost it that way. I was having fun using a biscuit cutter to cut the cake into individual cakelets.
Courgette Cake with Hazelnuts
Makes one 9×13 cake
2 1/2C grated yellow courgette (about 2 small yellow zucchini) squeezed dry
1 1/2C sugar
1C blanched and peeled hazelnuts, rough chopped
1/2C unsalted butter
1/4C orange juice
2T orange zest
2t vanilla paste or extract
1t baking soda 1/4t baking powder
Have all ingredients at room temp before starting.
Preheat oven to 325°. Prepare a 9×13” baking pan. Line the bottom with parchment paper and use Baker’s Joy spray or butter and flour the inside.
Combine all the dry ingredients in a bowl and set aside.
In the bowl of an electric mixer using the paddle attachment, beat the sugar and butter until doubled in volume and fluffy, about 5-7 minutes. Add in the eggs on at a time, scraping down the bowl as needed. It will look separated. Don’t worry. Add in the orange juice, orange zest, and vanilla. Beat until smooth. Add in the flour mixture a little at a time.
Remove the bowl from the mixer and fold in the grated yellow zucchini and cup of chopped hazelnuts. Pour into the pan and smooth out the top. Give it a few tamps on the counter, too. Bake for about 50 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Let the cake cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then remove to cooling rack. Cool completely and frost with orange cream cheese frosting. Top with more hazelnuts and freshly grated orange zest.
Frosting and Topping Ingredients:
8 oz soft cream cheese
4-5 cups sifted powdered sugar
2T orange juice, strained of pulp
3/4C – 1C blanched and peeled hazelnuts for topping
2-3T orange zest for topping
Beat butter and cream cheese until smooth. Add the powdered sugar, zest, and orange juice. If it’s too thick, add more juice. Too thin? Add more sugar.
Toasting the hazelnuts will change the flavor focus. I don’t toast them for this recipe. Remove the skins; the skins are bitter. You can usually rub them off between your fingers using a dishtowel.
Top the cake with the fresh orange zest at serving.
When baking, always bring ingredients to room temp before starting.
Do not over-beat cake batter. Only mix long enough to combine ingredients. A few lumps are fine.
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