This week I pulled out a family favorite recipe, a zucchini and cream cheese cake. The cake is the yummiest, even if you hate zucchini, I promise!
Zucchini Cream Cheese Cake: A Family Favorite
This cake has always been my sons favorite for his October birthday. But since he married the cutest pastry chef over ten years ago, I haven’t had to make his cakes anymore.
Being that fall always gives us an abundance of zucchini, I decided to bust out this family favorite recipe for my husband’s birthday last week.
This cake is so moist and delicious! Even my grand babies love it, and some of them are pick-y! Zucchini haters DO NOT need to stay away!
Full recipe card below!
This cake is super yummy. I will show you a step by step process below, and when you want to see the full recipe with all the ingredient measurements, simply scroll to the bottom for the recipe card.
Putting the cake together
Gather up all your ingredients. Most things everyone has as staples in their kitchen. The things I had to stop at the store for was the cream cheese and the can of pineapple.
This idea all started because I picked up a ginormous zucchini from my sons farmer neighbor who puts free veggies out by the road. It’s so nice when people share their bounty!
First, you are going to prepare the cream cheese filling. This consists of the cream cheese, some sugar, an egg, and vanilla. Cream these together and set it aside.
Next is the body of the cake. This is an easy one because you combine more eggs, sugar, canola oil, and more vanilla.
The dry ingredients come next. I just dump them on top all together, and then blend. There is flour, baking powder AND baking soda, salt (I omitted mine this round, I’ll tell you why in a minute), and cinnamon.
Next comes all the goodies that will make this cake moist and delicious! Start out by grating the zucchini. I just use a cheese grater. You will really see the moisture from this vegetable and know why the cake is so yummy.
Add the grated zucchini and crushed pineapple to the batter. These are the two components that really keep this cake moist, even a few days after it is made. Not that you will have this hanging around that long!
Chop the pecans or whatever nuts you are using. I like a rough chop, because I still want to see the nut in the cake, not just taste it. In my opinion, pecans definitely give this cake the right flavor and crunch.
Add the pecans to the batter. You can use walnuts in a pinch, but pecans makes this so good.
Nuts add fabulous crunch
I had a bag of pecans that I had picked up while in Atlanta at a blogging conference. They were salted and roasted. I used those, so I omitted the salt from the recipe. They were super flavorful, and add such good crunch.
Speaking of nuts, you store yours in the freezer don’t you? You should. That keeps them fresh for awhile. I love to buy nuts at Trader Joe’s, they have a great variety.
Whole Foods sells bulk, so I go there if I need a really weird kind, and only want what the recipe calls for.
Choosing the right pan and greasing it
My favorite way to make this cake pretty is to bake it in a bundt pan. I have always done that, but you really have to grease it good. This time, I was a bit preoccupied when making this, cause I was taking pictures and I could have done a better job of greasing.
So over grease your pan. Sometimes I will do the butter and flour method, but I don’t like the way the flour sticks around in the bundt lines. I buttered mine (for flavor) and meant to spray it on top, but forgot.
Of all the bajillions of times I have made this, this was the FIRST TIME ever that I could not get a good release from the pan. UGH! Good thing I’m not a perfectionist cause I was literally wrestling with this thing.
It finally came out and I had to piece a bit of it back together. No worries, ’tis life. The powdered sugar kind of covered it. And literally no one cared when they were eating it.
So word to the wise, grease the life out of your bundt pan. If you don’t have one, then just make it in whatever you got. Or grab the one above, it’s the one I use and it is a deep bundt, which I really like.
Adding the Cream Cheese Layer
Remember you have that cream cheese set aside, right? Okay, put half of the batter in the pan, then pour the cream cheese mixture on top.
This will create a cream cheese ribbon through the cake. Finish it off with the rest of the batter.
Side note: this time I decided to put 1/3 of the batter in the pan, layer half the cream cheese mixture, top with 1/3 of batter, then rest of the cream cheese mixture. Final layer was last 1/3 of batter. I was thinking this would spread the cream cheese flavor throughout the cake, as it did, and it was dee-lish!
But if you really like cream cheese, then you will want to see that ribbon in the middle of the cake. My son was APPALLED that I had the nerve to make it different than how he likes it with the see-able cream cheese clumps.
There I go, disappointing my child. Sure hope he can still function. LOL
Plating the cake
After you bake it, it has to fully cool. Don’t even think about trying to get it out of the pan until it has rested enough.
Once you take it out of the pan, dust it with some powdered sugar right before serving. You don’t want to do this early because the sugar will just evaporate into the cake because it’s so moist.
So dust it, then serve. I use a mini mesh strainer to do this. But you can use a sifter as well. Whatever you have or like best.
Isn’t it pretty?
What makes it moist?
This cake is similar to a zucchini bread, but a lot moister. The pineapple addition is really the secret, because obviously a zucchini bread would still have zucchini in it, but sometimes feels dry to me. I have seen some zucchini bread recipes call for you to dry your grated zucchini between paper towels, but I wouldn’t do that either. I like the moisture in the cake, it can take it.
If you look closely, you can see the cream cheese in the cake. Like I said, this time I split up the cream cheese and layered it in, so I DID NOT have the big ribbon of cream cheese in the center. If you are a cream cheese freak like my son, I would place that filling all in the center.
It is pretty exciting to get that big ribbon of cream cheese through it! Either way, it is delicious.
I hope you will try this recipe out. It is a great option for those people who don’t have a strong sweet tooth. Personally, I am not a big fan of chocolate or anything too sweet, so I love a cake like this. But my sweet loving grand babies LOVED this and gobbled up several pieces!
- 1 - 8 ounce package of cream cheese
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1 egg, beaten
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 3 eggs
- 1-3/4 cups sugar
- 1 cup canola oil
- 2 teaspoons vanilla
- 2-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1-1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
- 1 - 8 ounce can crushed pineapple, drained
- 2 cups grated zucchini
- 1 cup pecans, chopped
- Powdered sugar, for garnish after baking
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. If you have a convection option on your oven, use this.
- Cream the first four ingredients together to create the cream cheese filling. Set aside.
- Combine eggs, sugar, oil and vanilla until well combined.
- Add all the dry ingredients.
- Fold in the drained pineapple, zucchini, and chopped pecans.
- Grease a bundt pan. Just when you think you got full coverage, grease it again.
- Pour half of the batter into the pan.
- Pour the cream cheese mixture over the batter. Use a knife to carefully swirl mixture through the top. Or don't. You can let it stay there for a full bite of cream cheese surprise!
- Spoon the remaining batter on top.
- Bake for approximately 55 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.
- Let FULLY cool before releasing cake from pan. Put it on something pretty.
- Sprinkle with powdered sugar right before serving.
You can substitute pecans for walnuts if desired. Or nuts can be completely eliminated.
Of course, whenever you make a cake, you should serve it on something pretty. With my extensive milk glass collection here, there is never a shortage of a cake plate. I love to use all my vintage pieces for serving. It makes having them more purposeful.
I hope you will try this cake and love it as much as we do. You can find the bundt pan here in my Amazon shop. It has stood the test of time in our family, as I have been making it for more than 30 years! Enjoy!