Saturday, July 3, 2010

Toscana Zucchini Cake

After searching for months for a cookbook I had forgotten the title for, but distinctly remembered the cover art, I just got La Cucina, The Regional Cooking of Italy in the mail. For this cookbook, The Italian Academy of Cuisine (Accademia Italiana Della Cucina) swept out across the Italian countryside to record the classic recipes of regional Italian cooking. They wonderfully claim to have interrupted grandmothers at the stove and farmers at work, carefully taking down notes on techniques and ingredients. The problem is, the recipes were not tested in a kitchen given the historical nature of the book, and they're subject to conversions, translation, and general misinterpretation so the recipes are intended to be finessed in the kitchen by the individual chef to perfection.

This week, I invited an awesome girl from my class over for dinner and she brought me about 10 extremely large zucchinis. (Thanks Kel!!) So naturally, I flipped through the cookbook and found a recipe for Toscana Zucchini Cake and set to baking! Problem was, I didn't read the lovely preface stating the possibility for error in recipes, so I got something more along the lines of Zucchini Pudding. Even after baking at 400 degrees for 2 hours. None the less, I've been determined all weekend to get this recipe right, no matter what! Six cakes later, I've got it. The first recipe is the original, exactly as found in the cookbook, and the second recipe is my own. In the picture, the one on the left is mine and the one on the right is straight from the book. Feel free to make your own or just try mine!

Toscana Zucchini Cake da La Cucina

1/2 c unsalted butter
1 2/3 c all-purpose flour
2 c whole milk
1 1/4 c sugar
1 lb zucchini, trimmed and shredded
Grated zest of 1 lemon
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp Marsala
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Butter a baking pan. Mix all the ingredients except the olive oil until blended. Pour the batter into the pan, drizzle with olive oil, and bake for 1 hour, or until the bread springs back when lightly pressed.

Toscana Zucchini Cake da Nikol Rainwater

1/2 c unsalted butter
1 2/3 c all-purpose flour
1/4 c apple sauce
2 eggs
1 1/4 c sugar
1 c zucchini, trimmed and shredded
1 tsp grated lemon zest
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 Tbsp Marsala
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Melt butter in a large bowl and mix in sugar and eggs until creamy. Add remaining wet ingredients, followed by zucchini and lemon zest. Mix in remaining dry ingredients. Butter a baking pan (I used a 9 x 9 square pan), pour batter into pan, and bake for 1 hour or until an inserted knife comes out clean!