Donna’s Day: Bake a kid-friendly chocolate zucchini cake

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By Donna Erickson

Signal Contributing Writer

“You can have your cake and eat zucchini, too,” said 24-year-old Josh Plank when I wandered over to a landscaping project he was digging in in my neighbor’s yard. I knew he had a garden of his own, so I eagerly asked what I should do with three humongous 18-inch-long zucchini that dominated my veggie garden while I was on vacation. Without skipping a beat, he said, “Bake a chocolate zucchini cake.”

What? “Yep, a cake,” he said. “It’s the ultimate dessert my mom made when I was a kid. An Austrian neighbor gave it to her and said to pass it on. And that’s what she did. Now I make it and share it with friends.”

He emailed me a simple list of ingredients. When asked for directions, he said stir the ingredients in order, one by one with a wooden spoon in a big bowl. No mixer, no fuss!

Stir together family fun with this kid-friendly recipe and serve with cold glasses of milk and colorful napkins and straws for a special after-school snack.

1/2 cup soft butter
1/2 cup canola or vegetable oil
1 3/4 cups granulated sugar
2 eggs at room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup sour milk (stir together 1/2 cup milk and 1/2 tablespoon white vinegar. Let it sit 15 minutes.)
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
4 heaping tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups grated zucchini (if using an extra-large, firm zucchini, remove seeds)
1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup chopped nuts
1/2 cup chocolate chips

  1. Grease and flour a 9- by-13-inch pan. Preheat oven to 350 F after sour milk is prepared.
  2. In a large bowl, stir together butter, oil and sugar for a few minutes, until light. Add the eggs one at a time until well-blended. Stir in vanilla and the sour milk.
  3. Meanwhile, another child may measure and sift the flour, cocoa, baking soda, cloves, cinnamon and salt. Add to the large bowl and stir gently until mixed. Add zucchini and chocolate chips, and stir until just combined.
  4. An adult should spoon the batter in the pan, sprinkle with the topping and bake for 40-50 minutes, until a cake tester comes out clean.

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