It was one of those perfect summer weekends I didn’t want to end. I was a student in a French pastry class* with my assistant Stephanie, Kevin and his buddy went for a long bike ride, we went swimming in our neighbor’s pool, Noelle loved kicking and splashing in our arms, we followed the pool with some BBQ and homemade no-bakes, then we finished it with a lazy Sunday.
The ONLY thing that would’ve made the weekend even sweeter is a giant piece of zucchini crumb cake. I made the pictured cake a couple weeks ago and had I not used the last zucchini for zucchini fritters earlier in the week, this coffee cake would’ve been on the weekend agenda.
*I’ll share more about the French pastry class soon!
If you’re in the mood for sweet, there’s nothing better than cake topped with brown sugar cinnamon crumbs and a shower of vanilla icing. Unless that cake sneaks in a green vegetable that not only adds nutrition, but the moistest texture ever. (Please don’t let the nutritious zucchini fool you. This is not a healthy breakfast food!!!)
BEHIND THE RECIPE
I used the award-winning family zucchini bread recipe as a starting point. My husband grew up making this zucchini bread with his family, who entered it into the Maryland State Fair… and won! We make it several times each summer because not only is it LITERALLY THE BEST ZUCCHINI BREAD, it’s quick and freezes like a dream.
Here’s what I changed for the crumb cake version:
- I reduced the sugar because we’re topping it with crumble and vanilla icing.
- I increased the baking powder so there’s a little more lift.
- I reduced the cinnamon because there’s plenty in the crumb topping.
- I swapped oil for melted butter because I can’t imagine a crumb cake without butter!!!
Everything else stays the same: quick prep, simple ingredients, no mixer. You’re using the same ingredients in the cake as you are the crumb topping, so it’s an extremely convenient recipe. All basics like flour, butter, cinnamon, sugar, egg, plus shredded zucchini. I recommend a box grater to shred.
Why Bake with Zucchini?
I received this question a lot last summer, so it’s worth bringing up again.
There are 2 reasons why you should bake with zucchini:
- Because summer = plenty of zucchini! And there’s only so many zucchini side dishes you can make.
- Two words: flavorless moisture. Pure moisture with zero vegetable flavor. I wouldn’t bake a cake with a green vegetable if I could taste it. You bake carrot cake, right? It’s delicious, right? Well zucchini is even better. It’s truly a magical ingredient in your baked goods!
So here’s the real question: why NOT bake with zucchini?
Since it doesn’t taste like vegetables, what does zucchini crumb cake taste like? Buttery cinnamon-spice cake with tender/crunchy/sweet crumb topping. Think of regular crumb cake but with more flavor, more moisture, and more texture. All the good stuff. We inhaled it. Reserving this for only the morning hours is a terrible idea. Zucchini crumb cake should be an any time and every time cake!
Adapted from my award-winning zucchini bread recipe, this zucchini crumb cake is moist, cinnamon-spiced, and hidden with summer’s favorite green vegetable inside. Topped with a buttery brown sugar crumb topping and sweet vanilla icing, veggies for breakfast never tasted so good!
- 1/2 cup (60g) all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup (100g) packed light or dark brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/4 cup (60g) unsalted butter, melted
- 1 and 1/2 cups (185g) all-purpose flour (spoon & leveled)
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1/2 cup (115g) unsalted butter, melted + slightly cooled
- 1/3 cup (65g) packed light or dark brown sugar
- 1/3 cup (65g) granulated sugar
- 1 large egg, at room temperature
- 1 and 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 1 cup shredded zucchini (about 1 medium zucchini, no need to blot dry)
- vanilla icing (optional)
- Preheat oven to 350°F (177°C). Grease an 8-inch or 9-inch square or round baking pan, springform pan, or pie dish or line with parchment paper. Set aside.
- Make the crumb topping: With a fork, mix the flour, brown sugar, and cinnamon together in a small bowl. Mix in the melted butter. Don’t over-mix; you want the flour-y crumbles!
- Make the cake: Whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg together in a large bowl. Whisk the butter, brown sugar, granulated sugar, egg, and vanilla extract together in a medium bowl, then whisk in the shredded zucchini. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix until combined. Batter will be thick. Pour/spread into prepared baking pan, then sprinkle the crumb topping evenly on top.
- Bake for 35-38 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out mostly clean with no wet batter. (A few moist crumbs are ok!) If you find the top of the cake is browning too quickly in the oven, loosely cover it with aluminum foil.
- Remove the cake from the oven and set on a wire rack. Allow to slightly cool for a few minutes before slicing. I suggest drizzling with vanilla icing while the cake is still warm!
- Cover leftover cake tightly and store in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
- Make Ahead Instructions: Freeze baked and cooled cake for up to 3 months. Bring to room temperature and drizzle with vanilla icing, if desired, before serving.
- Special Tools: Glass Mixing Bowls | Box Grater | Whisk | Glass 8×8 Baking Dish | Green Plates
- 9×13-inch Crumb Cake: Doubling the recipe will be too much batter for a 9×13-inch cake pan. I recommend doubling the recipe, filling the pan halfway, then using any extra batter for muffins. Bake time for 9×13-inch crumb cake will be around 45-50 minutes, but use a toothpick to test for doneness. Instructions for baking zucchini muffins are below.
- Zucchini Crumb Cake Muffins: Make the crumb topping and batter as written. Grease a 12-count muffin pan or line with liners. Spoon the batter evenly into each liner, filling each all the way to the top. Press crumb topping into each. Bake the muffins for 5 minutes at 425°F (218°C) then, keeping the muffins in the oven, reduce the oven temperature to 350°F (177°C). Bake for an additional 13-16 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. The total time these muffins take in the oven is about 18-21 minutes, give or take. Allow the muffins to cool for 5 minutes in the muffin pan, then transfer to a wire rack to continue cooling. Yield: about 12-14 muffins.