August 26, 2009

Pistachio Zucchini & Cardamom Cake

In creating this recipe I wanted to develop a tasty, sweet zucchini (courgette) cake that wasn't a chocolate and zucchini combination. Now don't get me wrong, I really enjoy chocolate zucchini cake, it was made by my mother on many lovely occasions; the most memorable being my 5th birthday when all my friends dove into the tasty birthday cake having no idea zucchini was the main ingredient. When I revealed the secret at school they were not very impressed (imagine lots of 'ewww' and 'ick' expressions)- but I couldn't forget just how much they had enjoyed the chocolate cake just several days before.

This time, however, called for a new take on the concept of sweet + zucchini. In the spirit of eating more locally and trying (so far unsuccessfully) to reduce the amount of dark chocolate I eat- especially in the hot summer months when there's an endless supply of fresh fruit- I thought it best to try and make a zucchini cake without using cocoa to mask the zucchini I used cardamom and pistachio instead!

Once again, this recipe helps to use the absolute glut of zucchini gradually taking over fellow gardeners' kitchens (you can never have too many zucchini recipes at this time of year). This is one of those desserts that you may find yourself making multiple times in a it can be slightly dangerous; not to mention that the temptation of calling it a 'healthy' cake can't possibly help in this regard. Luckily, the inclusion of almonds and pistachios makes this cake slightly more expensive to produce than some, so you may be less inclined to bake at the aforementioned frequency....maybe?

Saying that, the gentle refreshing spice of the cardamom, the all-encompassing aroma of pistachio nuts and the dense moistness created by the grated zucchini, makes this an ideal cake to help celebrate the end of a long day and nicely close the gap between meals, or to simply have on hand when friends and family come by for coffee or tea. I hope you enjoy it as much we have.

Pistachio Zucchini & Cardamom Cake

Preheat the oven to 180°C or 350°F and butter a metal bundt pan, or a springform pan that has a bundt-style insert.

For the flours: (yes, this nearly uses the full gamut of gluten-free flours in your pantry)

30g corn starch
50g potato starch
2 tsp baking powder
50g white rice flour
15g bean flour
15g tapioca starch
20g brown rice flour
1/2 tsp guar gum

Combine the following dried ingredients in a separate bowl and mix them together:

100g ground almonds
60g ground pistachios (unsalted or salted but washed well so the salt comes off)
75g organic cane sugar
75g icing sugar
4-5 cardamom pods*

* Open-up the pods and take out the seeds, then grind the seeds in a mortar and pestle.

Grate 400g of zucchini.

In a food processor or with a hand mixer blend:
3 eggs
150g softened (room temperature) unsalted butter
2 tsp Amaretto liqueur

Add the grated zucchini but do not mix as the zucchini will be ground enough with the next steps. Whisk 1 tbsp water with the seeds from one vanilla pod then add to the food processor. Add the almond mixture and gently incorporate. Follow this by adding the flour mixture and pulse or beat until the batter has just come together. Pour the batter into the buttered bundt pan and bake for 35-40 mins or until a skewer or knife comes out clean.

For decoration I recommend a simple lemon or Amaretto glaze followed by a sprinkling of ground pistachio nuts.

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