Zucchini-Olive Oil Cake with Lemon Crunch Glaze

I don’t have a garden—yet. But I know from those of you that do that zucchini are taking over. CSA boxes are full of them and there are piles of the the summer squash at farmers markets. So I thought I would dedicate this week to the humble zucchini. I’ve got a couple of recipes that can help answer the question, what am I going to do with all of this zucchini!? Let’s call it Zucchini Week. Like shark week, but tastier. For humans.

Zucchini cake is, admittedly, not something I am usually drawn to. But when Gina DePalma is writing the recipe, it is always worth a try. The cake is easy to make and super moist, but the real star is the crackle lemon glaze that is brushed onto the warm cake. It is fantastic. Walnuts give the cake a nice texture and crunch along with some nutty flavor. This is originally made in a bundt cake pan, but I prefer making two loafs, which you can then share with a friend.  Try this now, with those zucchini sitting on the counter. This is a recipe I know I will be making every summer.

I don’t often come across Gina DePalma recipes online, which surprises me. Everything I have every made from Dolce Italiano has been incredible.

Zucchini-Olive Oil Cake with Lemon Crunch Glaze (recipe adapted from Dolce Italiano by Gina DePalma)


  • 1 cup walnut pieces
  • 2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 3/4 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 2 1/2 cups grated zucchini (about 2 small zucchini)


  • 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup confectioners’ sugar

Preheat the oven to 350° F. Grease two loaf pans (or a 10-inch bundt) and dust them with flour.

Place the walnuts in a single layer on a baking sheet and toast them until they are golden brown and aromatic, 12-14 minutes. Cool completely and then finely chop them.

Sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and spices into a medium bowl and set aside (you know me, I just whisk it together). In an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the eggs, sugar and olive oil together on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes, then beat in the vanilla extract. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed. Beat in the dry ingredients all at once on low speed until they are thoroughly combined, then switch to medium speed and mix for 30 seconds. Mix in the zucchini and walnuts on low speed until they are completely incorporated.

Pour the batter into the prepared pans, smoothing the top with a spatula. Bake the cakes for 40 to 45 minutes or until a tester inserted in the cakes comes out clean and the cakes have begun to pull away from the sides of the pans.

While the cake is baking, prepare the glaze. In a medium bowl, whisk together the lemon juice and granulated sugar, then whisk in the confectioners’ sugar until the glaze is completely smooth.

Allow the cakes to cool in the pans for 10 minutes, then carefully invert them onto a wire rack. Using a pastry brush, immediately brush the glaze over the entire surface of the warm cake, using all of the glaze; it will adhere to the cake and set as the cake cools. Allow the cake to cool completely and the glaze to dry.

44 comments to “Zucchini-Olive Oil Cake with Lemon Crunch Glaze”

  1. I would make this in a heartbeat…if only there was a break in heat.

  2. Oh my gosh. I’m sitting in a coffee shop right now eating a really bland, boring chocolate chip scone and I really wish I could trade it in for this bread. Looks amazing! I bet the lemon glaze is great on this!

  3. …Oh I am so making this! It may have to be at 4 in the morning just to beat the heat a little, as at 4 in the morning it has been in the 80’s here (gah!), but I am making this. :o)

    …Thank you & lovely photos too!

    …Blessings :o)

  4. jan canyon says:

    August 3rd, 2011 at 10:36 am

    I made this with pecans (we have pecan trees) and lime glaze instead and it was fabulous!
    This time of year, don’t leave the car windows open when shopping or you will have zucchini on the seats when you return! LOL Thanx foer another great recipe!

  5. i am totally about to board the zucchini train. Tara over at Seven Spoons made a lovely chocolate zucchini bread and now this one – I can’t resist any longer! Plus, i have a recipe for zucchini cornbread, so maybe it’ll be zucchini bread weekend for me!

  6. First on the list at the farmers market today: zucchini! First on the list for zucchini bread this summer: This Cake! Love the olive oil and the lemon glaze!

  7. oh my gosh! this looks delicious. i love zucchini bread and then the lemon glaze just makes it sound even better. will have to try! thanks

  8. This has my name all over it. Maybe I’d add walnuts?

  9. Ah, nevermind, you already included them!

  10. Oh I really really want that book! I keep stalking Amazon to see if it’s dropped in price at all. I keep hearing such good things about it.

    Anyway thanks for this recipe, we have an allotment and the zucchini (or courgettes as we call them) have pretty much exploded all over the place so I’m trying to find uses for them before they turn into triffids and destroy us all.

  11. i’ve been needing a new way to use all this zucchini my grandpa and his garden are giving me and this would be the perfect dessert for a dinner party i’m hosting this week (it’s my first one so i’m nervous). do you have a recommendations on how to serve this for company. you know, dress it up a bit? thanks.

  12. yep, i still have pounds and pounds of zucchini hanging around. and ooh eeh, lemon glaze. that’s going to be a big improvement on the zucchini breads i’ve been making. thank you!

  13. I love the idea of zucchini with a lemon glaze, and the crispiness of the sugared topping totally lit a light bulb over my head: Zucchini-Lemon-Poppyseed Muffins! I can’t wait till my next CSA load of zucchini to test out the recipe that’s blooming in my brain…

  14. sounds like a great snacking cake…i am onboard!
    no zucchini on my counter … yet… i am going to market tomorrow…asap!
    should this freeze well?…tim, thanks for another great recipe!!

  15. I love this recipe and even more love that you are highlighting my favorite vegetable at its prime. Furthermore, olive oil richens any terrific recipe. Lovely post, and beautiful blog!

  16. Completely in love. I’m going to cover everything in Lemon Crunch Glaze from now on.

  17. Wow, this lemon crunch glaze sounds like a great twist to zucchini bread!

  18. Zucchini week – I’m digging it! Felt the same way last weekend @GreenCity and ended up with vegan chocolate zucchini bread that has officially been devoured! Way to go!

  19. Came across this recipe on pinterest last night as I was looking for new ways to use my loads of garden zuchinni….my loaves are in the oven as I type this! Easy recipe….and surely delicious! Can’t wait to sink my teeth into a piece!! Thanks!!

  20. this is the best zucchini bread i have EVER had! I made it immediately. I replaced the cup of olive oil for 1/4 cup olive oil and 3/4 cup apple sauce just to lighten it up a bit. SO good! I image I will making this during the holidays. With all the spices it is a very holiday-y bread. LOVED IT

  21. I love this cake. I must make it again this year.

  22. I just made this and it’s seriously so good. everyone go make it :)

  23. Andrea Marambio says:

    August 5th, 2011 at 10:09 am

    This cake is fantastic – I saw the recipe on David Lebovitz blog a while ago but the thought of zucchini and olive oil didn`t sound too tempting at first but then I gave it a try and it turned out to be a surprise and it`s now one of my favorites cakes. I also tried switching some of the olive oil for walnut oil (about 0,50ml) and some of the sugar for soft brown sugar and it turned out great. So yeah – do make this cake!

  24. good to hear, mental! everyone- listen to her/him!

  25. One question: Do you drain off most of the liquid from the grated zucchini before measuring as in most zucchini baked goods? I did make this wonderful cake and needed 2 fairly large zucchini to measure 2 1/2 cups after draining liquid. Great recipe especially with the olive oil. i also have an orange marmalade cake using olive oil that is fantastic.

  26. Hi Dorie, I grated onto a cutting board and then measured the zucchini, which I guess essentially was draining. The zucchini measurement isn’t so important here, a range will work. It will also vary depending on your grated and how fine/thick your shreds are. Orange marmalade cake sounds wonderful!

  27. Thanks Tim. I really drained the zucchini by squeezing out most of the liquid using paper towels and the cake was still wonderful. Here is the link for Michael Chiarello’s Olive Oil Cake:


  28. Thanks, Dorie! That cake sounds delightful.

  29. I’m a big lover of all things zucchini and have often been tempted to squeeze in one or two more cups of the stuff into my breads and cakes. Amazingly, they hardly suffer for it at all, though the texture is a little moister. Love the lemon glaze!

  30. Very good. I made it yesterday and brought it to work today. So far has been a real hit.

  31. awesome. love your use of type.

  32. Hello,
    I’m new to your site and I thought I’d say that I really, really love it. I’ve been following the “food blog world” for quite some time, and I can’t believe I’ve overlooked this blog! It’s a new favorite and I have had a lot of fun browsing your archives. Lots of inspiration from them!

    Anyway, I also wanted to say I tried this cake out and I absolutely loved it (as did everyone else around me). I followed you in baking the cake in loaf pans, and have blogged about it here, in case you’d like to see:

    Thanks so much!

  33. Thanks, Amy! The vastness of the internet allows for lots of fun, new discoveries, eh? Your cakes look like they turned out great!

  34. I was skeptical about the olive oil in a cake. I am gluten free so I made mine with a gf flour blend. I had no walnuts so I used cashews. It turned out delicious. Thanks for the great recipe.

  35. I made this last night and it turned out delicious! I made the substitution of lime juice instead of lemon in the frosting (what I had on hand) and I am really happy with the results. My coworkers (especially the zucchini-hater) who had some were all very impressed. Yum!

  36. delicious! a few changes I made: adding chocolate chips and leaving out walnuts (one of my colleagues is nut-free) which promptly sank, will make note to coat w/flour first… and about a teaspoon of ice water to the glaze, when I mixed up mine it was practically a frosting-like texture, so I added a bit of water to loosen it up. Tip: to get glaze on the bottom, lay a piece of parchment paper on top of your cooling rack. First glaze the top, let rest for a couple of minutes before flipping the loaf over (onto the parchment paper) for the bottom, then re-flipping to recoat the top. Works well!

  37. I made the cake this morning. It is one of the more delicious things I’ve eaten.

  38. I just got around to making this (overwhelmed with zucchini this week), and W-O-W!!!!!!!! I think this might be the first time I have ever been EXCITED about zucchini bread. The smell of the olive oil while the mixing was happening was almost intoxicating in itself. The only substitution I made was to trade the nutmeg for freshly ground cardamom, and to add cardamom to the glaze as well. Delicious. Thank you!!

  39. Fantastic recipe. The walnuts and olive oil complemented the zucchini and other spices in this recipe. This is definitely a keeper.

  40. I just made this today and it was wonderful! I opted to use a bundt pan and it was about 50 minutes cooking time in my oven. Thank you for this recipe! I will definitely make it again!

  41. I followed the recipe exactly. I used a bundt pan. I had to bake for over an hour and when I tried to take it out of the pan it kind of fell apart and the middle was all goopy

  42. Hi Nancy- I make this recipe very often and have never had a problem. I’m not sure what happened. Did your cake tester come out clean when you checked it? It makes sense that you would need to bake it longer if it was a bundt, but maybe your oven temperature is off?

  43. Maybe that’s it. I bought one of those electric ceramic cook top ranges about a year ago and many things come out wrong. The flavor and the topping is delicious. I just can’t serve it to company. I’ll try this recipe again in some loaf pans.

  44. I love this recipe! Every year when zucchini bat craziness rolls around (where everyone you know with a garden is trying to give them away,) the first thing I think of is this bread! I usually make it in loaf pans, but I think next I will use a bundt pan, as there should be more surface area to soak up all that delicious lemon glaze. The glaze is my favorite part!

What do you think?