Earlier this week, I noticed we had a few wrinkly zucchinis lurking in our vegetable drawer. I really wanted to make some zucchini muffins, but I wasn’t in the mood for chocolate (which is odd for me). I started to think about what else I could make and decided to set out on making a spiced zucchini cake! And I’m so glad I did.
This cake is moist, fluffy, spicy, and perfectly sweetened. With a thin(ish) layer of Vegan Buttercream on top, it’s like a little slice of dairy-free heaven. This cake tastes like a regular, dairy-filled cake, and I promise you that this buttercream frosting will win anyone over. You won’t be able to tell it’s vegan!
The cake itself is easy to get together – no special instructions required! I even made it extra easy by baking it in a 9×13″ dish. You can let it cool in the dish if you’d like, frost it in there, and serve it. Easy! If you want to serve it like I did, then just remove it from the dish like any other cake and once it’s cool, you can frost it out of the baking dish.
The vegan buttercream is also pretty easy. You’ll beat together some vegan butter (I recommend Earth Balance Buttery Sticks) and vegetable shortening. Add in a bit of vanilla. Beat in your powdered sugar and spices (to taste). And then add your favorite dairy-free milk until you get a nice, spreadable consistency. I’ve found that using the buttery sticks, along with a bit of vegetable shortening, is key to getting the right consistency. The frosting will hold its shape and be less likely to melt.
Some of the ingredients I love for this recipe:
Zucchini adds so much moisture (plus a tasteless veggie kick!) to cakes and quick breads! It’s usually paired with spices or chocolate, and I love the texture in brings to this cake.
White whole wheat flour is a whole wheat flour that’s lighter in color and sweeter in taste. It’s milled from the whole hard white wheat berry, so it has more naturally occurring nutrients than all-purpose flour.
All-purpose flour helps keep this cake soft. It balances out the white whole wheat flour.
Coconut Sugar is my all-time favorite sugar because it’s unrefined and low GI, which means it’s less likely to spike your blood sugar than other sugars (like regular, granulated sugar or honey). It doesn’t taste like coconut, either!
Cardamom & Cinnamon are two of my favorite spices. If you haven’t tried cardamom before, I highly recommend getting some. It’s delicious and pairs perfectly with this cake and frosting!
Vegetable Shortening helps stabilize the vegan buttercream. You’ll use it along with vegan butter to create an amazing frosting that resembles a regular, dairy-filled buttercream!
Spiced Zucchini Cake
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 cup white whole wheat flour
- 2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 3/4 tsp ground cardamom
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 3 large eggs
- 3/4 cup coconut sugar
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup vegetable oil (I used olive oil)
- 1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk
- 2 cups finely shredded zucchini (~3 medium zucchinis)
Spiced Vegan Buttercream
- 1/2 cup vegan butter, room temp (I recommend Earth Balance Buttery Sticks)
- 1/4 cup vegetable shortening
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- 3 cups powdered sugar
- 1 tsp ground cardamom
- 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
- ~1-2 Tbsp unsweetened almond milk
- Preheat your oven to 350°F and prepare a 9x13" baking dish. Spray with olive oil and (if you'd like to frost/serve your cake out of the pan) line the bottom with parchment paper. I cut one long, thin piece of parchment - enough to cover the bottom and the short sides.
- In a large bowl, whisk together the flours, spices, salt, baking soda, and baking powder; set aside. Shred the zucchini until you have two cups. Place on a cheesecloth or paper towel and squeeze out and discard the juice.
- In a medium bowl, combine the eggs, coconut sugar, and vanilla extract. Whisk in the oil and almond milk. Finally, use a fork to whisk in the shredded zucchini, making sure to break up any chunks.
- Add the liquid ingredients to dry, using a large spatula to gently mix until no flour pockets remain. Pour batter into prepared baking dish and use your spatula to smooth out the top. Bake at 350°F for 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean.
- Allow your cake to cool. If you chose to line your baking dish with parchment paper, wait 10 minutes, invert a cooling rack over the cake, and gently flip over. Your cake should easily fall out of the dish. Remove the parchment paper and throw away. Allow your cake to cool totally. Alternatively, you can let your cake cool in the baking dish if you plan to frost it in the dish.
- Once your cake has cooled, you can make your frosting. In a large bowl, beat together the softened vegan butter and vegetable shortening. Beat in the vanilla extract. Sift in the powdered sugar and spices and beat. Slowly add almond milk 1-2 tsp at a time until your frosting reaches a consistency that's thick enough to hold shape and thin enough to spread (I ended up adding 6 tsp to mine).
- If your cake is on a cooling rack, use another rack (or a serving platter) to flip it right side up. Frost your cake, being careful not to pick up the top crumby layer with your icing spatula. Sprinkle with extra cinnamon, if desired. Serve immediately or refrigerate until 30 minutes before you're ready to serve. Store leftovers in an airtight container at room temperature, or in the refrigerator if your home is warm.
Flours: you can use all all-purpose flour or 1/2 AP + 1/2 regular whole wheat flour.
For vegan cake: replace the 3 large eggs with 3 flax eggs. Mix 3 Tbsp flaxseed meal + 9 Tbsp water. Allow to thicken for 5 minutes.
Shortening: you can replace the shortening with more vegan butter, but your frosting may be more prone to melting and losing its shape.
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Serving Size:1 slice
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 300 Total Fat: 16g Saturated Fat: 5g Trans Fat: 0g Unsaturated Fat: 10g Cholesterol: 46mg Sodium: 244mg Carbohydrates: 38g Fiber: 1g Sugar: 26g Protein: 3g