Chocolate Zucchini Cake for Recovery Cafe


Sometimes I institute things with a big megaphone, then fall off the face of the earth.

Like, "Every third Tuesday I'm baking cakes for Recovery Cafe!"

Or, "Every Sunday is pizza night!"

Cake-baking is still happening, but the pizza night is history.  Since Yancey started on shift at the station, we can't do anything on a day-of-the-week basis. We've still been eating pizza (obviously) but in a more un-regimented way.  I often fantasize that putting my life on some kind of grid would make everything better.  Every couple months I make up a Dream Schedule for myself (each day includes mediation and exercise--ha!), and I feel fulfilled just looking at it.  It often goes the way of Sunday Pizza Night, though.  That's how life is these days.

This month I made chocolate zucchini cake.  My criteria for these once-a-month baking ventures is 1) They have to be sheet cakes 2) They must be easy to transport 3) They have to be something I can make with relative ease with kids afoot 4) Something most everyone would like.  So I've done carrot cake, blueberry buttermilk cakes, and now this.  If you've got a favorite cake that fits those categories, I'd sure love to know about it.

And wouldn't you know, this bake-a-thon landed the same week as a big catering gig.  Yancey thinks I'm nuts. For a minute, I agreed with him, but then I pictured all those precious folks at Recovery Cafe, working SO HARD to live clean and sober lives and support one another.  The cakes are lit for belly button and sobriety birthday celebrations, and I can't think of anything more worthy of some late-night, bone-tired baking.  You know those nights?  When you quadruple check whether the blurry print says "baking powder" or "baking soda?" I came ominously close to that mistake Monday night.

And since I was up anyway, I made a little one for us.  Turns out my kids aren't big chocolate freaks, so more for me.  It's moist even now, 3 days later.

3rd tuesday transport

Chocolate Zucchini Cake
My blogging friend Beth puts espresso powder in her chocolate zucchini cake, so I added it to this recipe from Epicurious.  I loved the little bit of complexity it gave the cake.  It doesn't end up tasting like coffee--it just tastes GOOD.  And the zucchini was a HUGE bugger slipped into my bag at Deana's house last weekend.  It's what prompted this cake. Watch out during zucchini season.  I think it's Garrison Keillor who says to lock your car this time of year. Everyone's looking to unload.

2 1/4 cups sifted all purpose flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 Tb. instant espresso powder
1 3/4 cups sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup buttermilk
2 cups grated unpeeled zucchini (about 2 1/2 medium)
1 6-ounce package (about 1 cup) semisweet chocolate chips
3/4 cup chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 325°F. Butter and flour 13 x 9 x 2-inch baking pan. Sift flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt into medium bowl. Beat sugar, butter and oil in large bowl until well blended. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in vanilla extract. Mix in dry ingredients alternately with buttermilk in 3 additions each. Mix in grated zucchini. Pour batter into prepared pan. Sprinkle chocolate chips and nuts over.

Bake cake until tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 50 minutes. Cool cake completely in pan.