Orange-Cardamom Zucchini Cake

I know. I say this all the time, but I’m not a big fan of zucchini. However, I AM a big fan of Martha Stewart. A couple summers ago, I bought a copy of Martha Stewart magazine to take along on vacation and I couldn’t wait to sit by the lake and start reading. I love Martha Stewart. She’s my culinary and entertaining role model. I spent most of my twenties at home with babies devouring Martha Stewart cookbooks and faithfully watching her TV show. I wanted to cook and entertain like her. Heck, I wanted to BE her. So, after flipping through the pages and ogling the photos, I found a great recipe for zucchini Bundt cake. No heavy spices, no copious amounts of oil, just a beautiful, delicious, moist looking cake that happens to be made with zucchini. I thought I’d give it a try. After all, I do love banana cake (vs. a heavy banana bread), so I was hopeful that this cake would be just as tasty. And it was. This cake is not too sweet, absolutely perfect for breakfast or tea time, and capitalizes on the bounty of zucchini that’s harvested in August. win win win.

The orange zest adds a brightness to the cake and the cardamom gives it an earthy, mellow spiciness. It’s a great combination. I love my rose shaped Bundt cake, but any Bundt cake pan will work.  You could use a loaf pan or a muffin tin, but you’ll have to adjust the baking time accordingly.


Orange-Cardamom Zucchini Cake, inspired by Martha Stewart Living magazine

Makes one Bundt cake


  • 1½ sticks of melted butter, cooled
  • 2½C pastry flour (can substitute Cup4Cup gluten free flour mix)
  • 1¼C sugar
  • 2½t baking powder
  • ¼t cinnamon
  • ¼t anise seeds
  • ¼t cardamom
  • 2 small zucchini = 1lb = 2½C grated, and drained (squeeze out the excess water)
  • 3 large eggs
  • zest from 1 orange
  • 3T fresh orange juice
  • Orange-Cardamom glaze (recipe follows)

Cake Directions: Preheat oven to 325°. Prepare the Bundt pan by rubbing with butter and dusting with flour or use Baker’s Joy Spray all over the inside. Add all the dry ingredients to a large bowl. Stir to combine. Add the orange zest and give it a stir, making sure it doesn’t clump together. Add the grated and drained zucchini.  Stir to combine.

In a small bowl, add the eggs, orange juice, and warm, melted butter (the butter can be warm, but any hotter and it will cook the eggs). Give the mixture a quick stir to combine. Add the liquid ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir until just combined. Be sure not to over-stir or you will create gluten and your cake will be tough. Be aware that the batter will be thick. If it seems too thick and clumpy, add a little bit more fresh orange juice and a give the batter another quick stir.

Pour into the prepared Bundt pan and bake for about 50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes and invert onto a wire rack. Let cool for half an hour more and, when the cake is still a bit warm, brush the orange-cardamom glaze all over the cake.

Orange Cardamom Glaze

Makes ¾C of glaze


  • 1½C confectioner’s sugar
  • ¼t ground cardamom
  • 1T orange zest, finely minced
  • 3T orange juice

Directions: Whisk ingredients together using a fork until the mixture is a smooth consistency. If it’s too thick, add a bit more juice or a touch of milk. If it’s too thin, add more sugar 1 teaspoon at a time. Use a pastry brush to coat the cake.

bundt slice

Orange Scented Granola

Granola doesn’t last very long in our house. My husband and daughters put it on Greek yogurt, eat it like cereal with raw milk,  or just reach into the jar and scoop up a handful. Todd used to tackle the job of making granola and he’d create a Project out of it. You know, the kind of weekend project that was supposed to take an hour to do but ends up taking two weeks and is henceforth deemed “The Project“. That’s the kind of Project his granola was. It really was delicious, BUT! to make it he would start by soaking the rolled oats overnight and dehydrating the mushy mess in our dehydrator over the course of three to four days. Next, he’d soak and sprout the nuts overnight, and then proceed to dehydrate the nuts another couple of days. Finally (yay, home stretch of The Project), Todd would combine the ingredients and dehydrate the sticky mixture one last time. After years of these two-week messes in the kitchen, tolerating the smell of oatmeal dehydrating (it’s not good), I’ve decided to make it my way – and it’s gotten rave reviews from all. <insert angel choir>

This recipe can be made in an afternoon, fills the house with the sweet aroma of honey and oranges, and can be eaten all in the same day!

Makes about 8 cups


4 C rolled oats

1½C chopped mixed nuts (no peanuts)

1½C unsweetened, shredded coconut1

1C honey (I used my own delicate spring honey)

⅔C currants or ½C raisins

⅓C melted coconut oil

pinch of sea salt

Zest of 2-3 oranges


Preheat the oven to 350°.

Combine the rolled oats, mixed nuts, coconut, currants, pinch of sea salt, and orange zest in a large bowl. Melt the coconut oil in a small saucepan and remove from the heat. Add the honey to the saucepan and whisk until combined. Pour the mixture over the dry ingredients and stir to combine and coat the ingredients. Scoop the granola mixture onto a large, rimmed cookie sheet. You may need two depending on the size of your cookie sheets. You want a thin layer.

Bake, stirring a couple times during the baking process, until the top is golden, about 40-45 minutes. Watch it carefully; there’s fine line between toasty granola and scorched granola. Let it cool a bit, and using a metal spatula to scrape up all the bits remove the granola from the cookie sheet and store in an airtight jar. Good luck keeping it longer than a few days, but it should last a long time if sealed.

Variation for Tropical Granola: ½C chopped candied ginger, ½C chopped dried pineapple, 1½C chopped walnuts, 2C shredded unsweetened coconut, orange zest


Gâteau à L’Orange for my birthday!

The best thing about a birthday is the cake. I’ve been searching for 20 years for the perfect cake. Why 20 years? Well, 23 years ago I hired Ruth Angorn to bake my wedding cake…then she made our daughters’ Christening cakes and then their birthday cakes until she retired and limited her cakes to only weddings. We could barely afford to go out for a fancy dinner back in those days when Todd was a new auditor at KPMG and I was home with two daughters, but we certainly splurged on good cakes. It was a sad day when I made the call to order a birthday cake and she said she was cutting back on baking. Tears were shed. Some minor hysterics ensued, but I vowed to find a replacement. I haven’t found it yet. Her cakes were magnificent. TRULY. They were as delicious as they were creative and beautiful. I haven’t had cake like that since. And I’ve tried. and tried.

My love affair with cake began on this day 6/10/89: Two lemon cakes with raspberry filling and one groom’s cake that was chocolate with raspberry filling.

Cake needs to be the perfect combination of moist crumb and delicate flavor. The icing needs to be an all-butter buttercream, but most bakeries don’t use butter because of the cost; they use shortening or a combination of butter and shortening. It’s easy to tell if your eating buttercream (100% butter) or a shortening “buttercream” frosting. yuck. The frosting is slimy and leaves a nasty coat in your mouth. Buttercream simply melts and releases flavors with each bite – real buttercream tastes sooooo much better.

Here’s a few or Ruth’s cakes she baked for us before she retired.

A Christening cake.
Kelsey’s 1st Birthday. I asked Ruth for a basket of roses.
Kate’s 1st Birthday. Big Bird was a cupcake.

After some time off (years) from baking my family’s birthday cakes, I’ve decided that I’m getting back into it. Forget about finding the elusive perfect bakery cake. I’m going to make my own.

As my dad used to tell me: “If you want something done right do it yourself.”

This is the best part, but don’t over mix or you will create gluten with the flour and the crumb won’t be light and fluffy.

My 45th birthday cake is Julia’ Child’s Gâteau à L’Orange à la Crème d’Orange ( Orange spongecake with orange-butter filling) from Mastering The Art of French Cooking by Julia Child, Louisette Bertholle, and Simone Beck. The cream cheese icing is my old recipe. I doubled Julia Child’s gâteau recipe and baked two 9″ round cakes so that I could make a double layer cake. You can also split the cake using a serrated knife to get your layers, but the layers will be very thin. The Crème d’Orange is so delicious. It’s like lemon curd only better. You will have plenty for another cake or to plop on some scones.


Make one 9″ round cake

~ Gâteau à L’Orange Ingredients:

9″ round cake pan

⅔C + 1T sugar

4 egg yolks

4 egg whites

The grated rind of 1 orange

⅓C strained, freshly squeezed orange juice

pinches of salt

¾C cake flour (scooped and leveled, turned into a sifter)


Preheat oven to 350°. Butter and flour the cake pan. Measure out ingredients.

Gradually beat the sugar into the egg yolks and continue beating until the mixture thickens to form the ribbon. Add the grated orange peel, orange juice, and pinch of salt. Beat for a moment or two until mixture is light and foamy. Then beat in the flour.

Beat the egg whites and salt together in a separate bowl until soft peaks are formed. Sprinkle on the sugar and beat until stiff peaks are formed. Stir one fourth of the egg whites into the batter, delicately fold in the rest. Immediately turn into a prepared cake pan and run the batter up to the rim all around. Bake in middle position of preheated oven for 30 to 35 minutes. Cake is done when it has puffed and browned, and shows a faint line of shrinkage from the edge of the mold.

Let cool for 6 to 8 minutes. Run a knife around the edge of the pan and reverse cake on a rack. If not to be iced, immediately reverse again, puffed side up. Allow to cool for an hour or two. When cake is cold, sprinkle it with powdered sugar or fill and ice the cake.

~ Crème d’Orange Ingredients:

6T butter

1⅔C sugar

2 eggs

2 egg yolks

The grated rind of 1 orange

¼C strained, freshly squeezed orange juice

1T orange liqueur


Place all ingredients in a saucepan and beat with wire whip over low heat or no-quite-simmering water until mixture thickens like honey. When it is cooking properly, the bubbles that first appeared on its surface as it is heated will begin to subside, and if you look closely you will see a little whiff of steam rise; it will be too hot for your finger. You must heat it enough to thicken, but overheating will (of course) scramble the yolks.

When ready, set saucepan in cold water and beat for 3-4 minutes until filling is cool. (8) May be refrigerated for 10 days, or may be frozen.

My note: When assembling the cake, spread the crème between the two layers but leave at least ½” from the edge of the cake or it will leak over the sides.

 ~ Cream Cheese Icing Ingredients:

8oz. cream cheese

4C confectioners’ sugar

6T unsalted butter

1t orange extract


In a medium bowl, cream together the cream cheese and butter until creamy and the smooth. Add the orange extract , then gradually stir in the confectioners’ sugar, beating in between additions until smooth and creamy. Ice the cake.

Store extra in the refrigerator for a week.

You can see little bits of orange zest. I added a scoop of the Crème d’Orange to the cream cheese icing.
Pretty and simple. It’s perfect.