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.
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!
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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.