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.

This gate!

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.

The Tea Room
The Tea Room
The Tea Room
My slice of Killruddery’s Courgette Cake with Hazelnuts

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.

My courgette cake

Courgette Cake with Hazelnuts
Makes one 9×13 cake

Cake Ingredients:
3C flour
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
1/2C buttermilk
1/4C orange juice
3 eggs
2T orange zest
2t vanilla paste or extract
1t baking soda 1/4t baking powder

Cake Directions:
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

Frosting Directions:
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.

Notes:

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.

Coconut Rum Banana Bread

I’m not a fan of ripe bananas. If it a banana has even a HINT of a brown spot it’s inedible to me. Dead to me. I won’t eat it. I know, I know. It’s a quirk, but hey, I’m OK with it. The bananas I use for a quick bread are ripe but don’t have lots of spots. I prefer the less sweet taste and firmer texture of a yellow banana. If you like brown bananas go for it! It will be sweeter and probably taste more familiar. Not many people use yellow bananas for banana bread. That’s my special banana weirdness.

I recommend only lightly mashing the bananas. You will get some more tasty chunks of banana in the bread. If you prefer brown bananas you may end up with more of a liquid after mashing. It will still come out great, it’s more a matter of texture and what you prefer.

Note: With quick breads the standard is creaming butter and sugar, adding eggs one at a time and then alternating the dry and liquid ingredients, being mindful of not over-mixing. This recipe follows the same pattern. Measure out all ingredients before starting. I learned this lesson many years ago: mise en place, everything in its place. Read the recipe first, collect and measure ingredients, and THEN start your process.

Coconut Rum Banana Bread

Makes 1 large loaf or 3 mini loaves

Ingredients:

  • 2C pastry flour
  • 1C sugar
  • 1 1/2C gently mashed bananas, about 3 medium-sized
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2C shredded, sweetened coconut + 2T for topping
  • 1/4C unsalted butter, room temp (4T)
  • 1/4C plain full-fat yogurt
  • 3T spiced rum
  • 3/4t baking soda
  • 1/2t salt
  • 1t vanilla extract

Optional Glaze Ingredients:

  • 1/2C confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 1/2T freshly squeezed lime juice

Directions:

If you are making one 9 x 5″ loaf, preheat oven to 350°.

If you are making the smaller loaves, preheat to 325°.

Prepare your loaf pans with Baker’s Joy spray or butter and flour them. Set aside.

In a medium sized mixing bowl, add the flour, 1/2C coconut, baking soda, and salt. Give a quick stir to combine.

In a small bowl, combine bananas, yogurt, rum, and vanilla. Stir to combine.

In the large bowl of a mixer (or deep bowl good for hand mixer) cream the butter and sugar until light and airy. Use a rubber scraper to scrape down the sides if the sides are not mixing well. Add the eggs one at a time and continue creaming them together until combined and light in texture.

Alternate adding the dry and liquid ingredients to the creamed butter, sugar, and egg mixture. Do not over beat.

Spoon the batter into your loaf pan or mini loaf pans (filling 3/4 full). Sprinkle the top with the 2T of shredded coconut that was set aside earlier.

Bake one large loaf for 60 minutes or until golden and a toothpick inserted comes out clean.

Bake the mini loaves for 30 minutes or until golden and a toothpick inserted comes out clean.

Let sit in the loaf pan for 5-10 minutes until inverting onto a cooling rack. Once completely cool, make a glaze with the sugar and lime juice and drizzle over the bread.

 

 

 

 

 

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