Don’t consider yourself a baker? Impress your friends and family with this unique and delicious courgette cake. The zingy lime and salty, crunchy pistachios combined with the subtle flavour and texture of the courgette are a match made in heaven. The simple cream cheese icing makes it a little like carrot cake – but with a twist!
When I bake, I like to go for super easy, crowd pleasing and fool proof, and loaf cakes generally fit into this category.
Other favourites are this Nutella swirl loaf cake with hazelnuts, this 6-ingredient ricotta lemon loaf cake and a really yummy healthy one – this easy pumpkin and pear loaf cake.
This courgette / zucchini cake is really easy too, but just a little bit different. I think it’s quite a summery cake, perfect for summer BBQs, picnics and more.
What you’re going to love about it
- It’s very easy to make (no creaming of butter and sugar), but has a touch of class. The cream cheese icing elevates it from good to excellent. It’s pretty too with the pistachios and lime scattered on top.
- It’s a crowd pleaser with it’s carrot cake-like texture and icing, lime-y zing and crunchy, salty nuts.
- The cake doesn’t taste of ‘vegetable’, but what a bonus that there are ‘hidden vegetables’ in there! It’s a perfect excuse to have more than one slice.
About the ingredients
Other than the usual suspect cake ingredients – eggs, sugar, oil, flour, baking powder and soda – this is all you need:
- Greek yoghurt: for some added protein and moisture. Any brand is fine. In a pinch even plain vanilla yoghurt will work.
- 2 limes: One for the cake, another for the icing. You’ll also use the zest for both the inside of the cake and the top for extra flavour.
- Grated courgette/zucchini: You’ll need a medium to large sized courgette that weighs around 250 grams or 9 ounces. Don’t worry about getting this absolutely perfect – a little more or less will be fine.
- Pistachio nuts: To make life easy I’d go for ready shelled! This cake would also work well with chopped hazelnuts, macadamias or brazils, don’t you think?
For the cream cheese icing (don’t skip this part!):
- Cream cheese: Nothing fancy. A supermarket’s own brand would be fine. You’ll need around 125 grams or 4.5 ounces which I find is usually half a small tub.
- Butter: Not too much. Just a tablespoon. To be honest you could even skip this if you like.
- Icing sugar: Around 2 cups.
- That second lime (the zest and most of the juice!)
Pro tip: Buy shelled pistachios. I know they’re expensive but just buy as many as you need from a ‘Scoop and Weigh’ or similar. Unshelled pistachios can take a while to get out of the shells!
How to make it
There are just 4 simple steps:
Step 1: Whisk all of the ‘wet’ ingredients together, including the lime zest and juice. I use oil instead of butter, so there’s no creaming of butter an d sugar (big win).
Step 2: Squeeze any excess water out of the courgette / zucchini. I do this by pressing it between 2 folded sheets of kitchen paper. Then fold in the grated courgette / zucchini, flour and pistachios.
Step 3: Pour into a loaf tin and bake! While it’s baking, make the topping.
Step 4: Let cool completely. Then top with the yummy cream cheese and lime icing. Sprinkle more pistachios and lime zest over the top for added pizzazz!
Got lots of zucchini to use up? Try these light and crispy zucchini fries as well!
How to serve it
I think that this loaf cake is delicious enough served exactly as it is. You’ll need some little cake forks to scoop up all the yummy icing.
If you want to go all out, top with a little vanilla or pistachio ice cream. But I’ll leave that up to you!
This is a lovely cake for a morning or afternoon tea, for Mother’s day, a summer picnic or BBQ, or any kind of get-together really.
Courgettes/Zucchinis are plentiful and good value particularly in the summer months, but as long as you can get hold of a medium sized zucchini you can make this any time of year.
More things to know (recipe FAQs)
I’ve made this many times without doing that. However, some courgettes can be a little more watery so to be on the safe side just blot between two pieces of kitchen paper to remove any excess water.
This is meant to be a moist cake, but you don’t want it to be soggy.
Absolutely! I’d try to use a flour that contains xanthan gum or guar gum though to compensate for the lack of gluten.
Yes, you can! This cake will keep well in the freezer for around a month.
Make sure you let it cool completely, then wrap it tightly in clingfilm/clingwrap and aluminium foil before freezer. I usually pop the wrapped cake into a large labelled freezer bag too. I always think I’ll remember what it is inside a package I’ve frozen but I often don’t!
Freeze the cake un-iced, then make the icing fresh when you’re ready to eat the cake. You can even freeze it in single slices if you prefer.
More cakes to impress with
Here are some of my other go-to cakes:
- No one can believe this ooey, gooey 30-minute chocolate cake is healthy! You can serve it plain or turn it into a birthday cake. I once turned it into a digger or ‘construction cake’ like these ones for my son’s birthday and it was wonderful!
- When I want an easy crowd pleasing cake for guests I nearly always choose this Italian apple cake or this 6-ingredient Swedish chocolate cake.
- If you have friends or family coming over for morning or afternoon tea and cake, may I suggest either this lemon mascarpone cake or this sticky blueberry lemon curd cake? Both absolutely delicious!
Or have a browse of all my cakes here.
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Courgette Cake With Lime And Pistachios
Equipment (affiliate links)
Ingredients (UK/Australia? Click below for grams/ml)
For the loaf
- 4 eggs
- 1 cup brown sugar
- ½ cup oil (I used rapeseed)
- ⅓ cup Greek yoghurt (6 tablespoons)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 lime zest and juice
- 1 courgette medium to large, grated (US = zucchini) This is about 250 grams or 9 ounces
- 2 cups plain flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- 3½ ounces pistachio nuts
For the lime-cream cheese icing
- 4.5 ounces cream cheese
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 2 cups confectioners’/icing sugar
- 1 lime zest and 2 teaspoons juice
- Line a loaf tin with baking paper and pre-heat the oven to 170C/340F. Blot the courgette/zucchini between sheets of kitchen paper to remove any excess moisture.
- Whisk together the eggs, sugar, oil, yoghurt, vanilla essence, lime zest and juice in a large bowl.
- Stir in the zucchini and then fold in the flour, baking powder, baking soda and most of the pistachios (save a couple of tablespoons).
- Pour the mixture into the loaf tin, then bake for 45 to 50 minutes or until the loaf is risen and golden and a skewer poked into the centre comes out clean. Then cool completely on a wire rack.
- Meanwhile, make the icing. Beat together the cream cheese and butter, then add most of the lime zest and the juice. Finally, stir in the icing sugar. Keep adding more icing sugar until the icing seems thick enough to sit on top of the cake without sliding off.
- When the cake is completely cool, spread the icing over the top. Decorate with the remaining pistachios and lime zest.
Hi! I loved the flavours of it. However, There’s definitely something off about the oil or moisture in this cake. I squeezed the life out of the zucchini and I used 2 cups of flour. I will give it another shot with 1/4 c of oil instead of 1/2 c. And I will also need to take down some of the g of sugar. Any suggestions?
Thanks for the lovely flavour combination.
Hi Renate! I’m so glad you liked the flavours. This is one of my older recipes. Lately I err on the side of less sugar so I definitely think you could reduce it in this recipe – by at least a quarter or a third. I don’t think it will impact the overall result. As for the moisture, I’ll take another look at the recipe. Zucchini are in season here in Australia soon! Thanks for taking the time to leave your feedback – I really appreciate it! 🙂
It took 1 hour 45 to cook. No idea why.
Hmmm, that does sound like a long time! Did you squeeze some of the moisture out of the zucchini? Could just be down to this!
I’ve used this recipe and omg the taste! Love how lemony it tastes with a good hint of pistachios. However, while it was in the oven it looked nice and big but once taken out -collapsed. It also came out quite wet I wonder if I didn’t measure flour and courgette ratio. Regardless will be trying again.
Glad you liked it, Vida! Did you squeeze the water out of the zucchini by any chance?
Are we meant to squeeze the water out of the courgette first? Surely this would be in the instructions if it’s meant to be a step? Mine has come out wet and collapsed too. I didn’t squeeze the courgettes out either because the recipe doesn’t call for it.
Hello Laura! Sorry to hear this happened with your cake. I’ve never had this problem without squeezing any water out of the courgette but I’ll add a note to the recipe. It could be an issue is the courgette is on the wetter side or if it’s a larger one. I hope you’ll give it another chance as this generally gets great reviews! Thanks for the feedback – I appreciate it 🙂
Might be a really silly question but are the pistachios natural (unroasted), roasted only or roasted and salted?
Hi Natalie! Not a silly question at all 😉 To be honest it really doesn’t matter too much. I tend to use just whatever I can find. The salted ones add a bit of something to the overall taste, but natural is fine too. I hope that helps!
Such a great recipe! I halved the quantities and it was perfect for an 8 inch tin. I glazed the cake with some lime juice and sugar syrup and it’s got a lovely burst of tartness and it’s
now my to go to summer cake recipe for sure! I added a bit more zucchini (20p more) and drained all the liquid. Thanks so much for this great recipe
Hi Giselle! Thank you so much for your review – it’s great to know it works well if you halve the recipe. I’m going to post another summery loaf cake in the next month or so, so look out for it. If you sign up for my emails you won’t miss it! 😉
I was so excited to try this recipe but for some reason mine came out excessively oily. It’s so oily that it never rose properly and even when I touch it, it leaves oil all over my fingers. The consistency when I was making it was more like a runny batter than a cake mix and I just don’t know where I went wrong as I used a half cup of rapseed oil just as instructed.
I am determined to try again, because despite it being as flas as a pancake and very greasy, the taste is really really nice!
I wonder if it would be ok to use a smaller quantity of oil if I try again?
Hi Lesley! It’s been a little while since I’ve made this recipe but doing a bit of sleuthing I think somehow (maybe while I was making admin changes on the site) the amount of flour is not quite enough. Try 2 cups of flour (or 300 grams) and a little under half a cup of oil (you can use any oil you like, it doesn’t have to be canola). I think your second attempt will turn out better! I’m really sorry about that, Lesley – I feel terrible actually that it was my mistake! This recipe is now on my list of recipes to be properly reviewed in the New Year! Good luck and apologies again! Merry Christmas!
Amie Inman says
Hi. I haven’t tried this yet, but your recipes in general look terrific. Is the self-rising flour really necessary? I live outside the US and not sure it’s readily available, so I’d rather avoid it if you can suggest substitutions. Thanks!
Hi Amie! Aw, thank you so much! That means a lot that you’ve said that.
I’ve never made this without the sr flour, but I don’t see why you can’t use plain flour with baking powder instead (I think it’s 1/2 teaspoon baking powder per cup of flour). Let me know how you get on!
I absolutely love this recipe. It’s fresh, nutty, moist and tasty – it has everything.
I just posted an illustrated version of the Zucchini Loaf on my blog
Hope you like it!
Greetings from Vienna
Thank you Maria. This is one of my favourite summer cakes!
Success! I am not a baker and it turned out wel:) delicious!
Brilliant – so pleased to hear this, Daiva! Don’t worry, my cakes are always easy because I’m not a baker either! 🙂
I really want to make this cake! I was wondering what size loaf tin you used? Thank you x
Hi Holly! So happy you’re going to give this a go! I recently ate half a loaf that I’d hidden away in the freezer and it was just as good. As for the loaf tin size, the one I used was 10 inches (25 cm) by about 4.5 inches, but I don’t think it will matter if yours isn’t quite the same size. Good luck!
Vicki Howard says
Hi Helen, I was intrigued by the combination of flavours so I took poetic license and modified it even more. Using a white wings golden butter cake packet mix I added oil instead of milk, 4 eggs instead of 2, cream cheese spread instead of butter. I added 1 cup of grated zucchini ( moisture squeezed out), a handful of pistachio nuts chopped and the rind of 2 limes and juice of 1. Baked it as muffins. I then iced them with the mix included in the pack but added cream cheese spread instead of butter and lime juice instead of milk. Wow! I think I may be famous after all. Many thanks for the idea. Vicki Howard Australia.
Hi Vicki! I’m thrilled that you took this recipe and made it your own – that’s what cooking’s all about, after all! Nothing wrong with a bit of poetic licence. Thank you so much for bothering to pop by and leave your feedback. I think you may be famous after all too! 🙂
I actually squealed when I read the title of this! The combination of flavors just sounds so intriguing…and delicious.
Wish I’d been there to hear that squeal, girl!
Oh no — you lost the recipe! And your husband’s reply made me laugh out loud! This bread is stunning, Helen, and I want a big slice for my breakfast tomorrow. Do you deliver? 🙂
I’ll deliver to you, Marcie … special delivery! 🙂
Neeli @ Neeli's Unique Creations says
What a tasty sounding recipe. I just found this on Yumgoggle and had to come check it out. This would be a great recipe to make with my daughter.
Hello, Neeli! Really glad you like it, and thanks so much for passing by! I’m a fan of Yumgoggle, too!