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Lemon Zucchini Cake with Goat Cheese Frosting and Lemon Glaze

This zucchini cake has a deliciously moist crumb, an inventive goat cheese frosting, and a zesty glaze. A spectacular way to use summer squashes! {Jump to Recipe}

Lemon Zucchini Cake with Goat Cheese Frosting and Lemon Glaze, a recipe adapted from the book Layered by Tessa Huff // FoodNouveau.com

I don’t make layered cakes nearly often enough. In fact, before my son’s birth, there have been years of no cake at all. Well, there were cupcakes and carrot cake, but festive layered cakes? None. And now, between the fact that there are only three of us (including a tiny one) and that E isn’t a huge fan of cakes (yes, those people exist), I usually make exactly one cake a year—when my son’s birthday comes around.

But I love cake, and I admire people who make gorgeous cakes, such as Tessa Huff from the blog Style Sweet CA. Tessa is an American-born baker who currently lives in Vancouver, Canada. Her spectacular book, Layered: Baking, Building, and Styling Spectacular Cakes is filled with innovative cake recipes, from the casual to the adventurous. All cakes are layered, of course, and in my opinion, even those that are grouped under “Casual Cakes” chapter are worthy of celebrations. Case in point: this Lemon Zucchini Cake with Goat Cheese Frosting and Lemon Glaze.

Lemon Zucchini Cake with Goat Cheese Frosting and Lemon Glaze, a recipe adapted from the book Layered by Tessa Huff // FoodNouveau.com

Lemon Zucchini Cake with Goat Cheese Frosting and Lemon Glaze, a recipe adapted from the book Layered by Tessa Huff // FoodNouveau.com

Lemon Zucchini Cake with Goat Cheese Frosting and Lemon Glaze, a recipe adapted from the book Layered by Tessa Huff // FoodNouveau.com

What attracted me to this zucchini cake is that it seemed like a delightful spin on a carrot cake. Indeed, the zucchini acts as a carrot would to produce a moist crumb, and the icing is made with cheese. Presenting a tall layered cake like this one instantly makes you look like a star baker. A few weeks ago, I hosted friends for a dinner party, so I seized the opportunity to make this zucchini cake, knowing there would be many dessert enthusiasts to help us get through it. Plus, the goal of the dinner was to celebrate the start of the lobster season, so a lemon-infused dessert sounded absolutely perfect to end such a lavish meal.

Lemon Zucchini Cake with Goat Cheese Frosting and Lemon Glaze, a recipe adapted from the book Layered by Tessa Huff // FoodNouveau.com

Lemon Zucchini Cake with Goat Cheese Frosting and Lemon Glaze, a recipe adapted from the book Layered by Tessa Huff // FoodNouveau.com

Lemon Zucchini Cake with Goat Cheese Frosting and Lemon Glaze, a recipe adapted from the book Layered by Tessa Huff // FoodNouveau.com

As spectacular as this zucchini cake looks, it’s actually quite easy to make. The batter comes together by simply mixing the dry ingredients into the wet ones, folding in the grated zucchini last. The finger-licking good frosting uses goat cheese instead of classic cream cheese, which gives it a subtle kick and the distinctive cheesy flavor that goes so well with denser moist cakes. The final, genius touch comes in the form of a tart lemon glaze that drips onto the sides of the cake, making for a gorgeous presentation and a lovely zesty punch. This zucchini cake is a truly a memorable treat.

Lemon Zucchini Cake with Goat Cheese Frosting and Lemon Glaze, a recipe adapted from the book Layered by Tessa Huff // FoodNouveau.com

Lemon Zucchini Cake with Goat Cheese Frosting and Lemon Glaze, a recipe adapted from the book Layered by Tessa Huff // FoodNouveau.com

The book Layered: Baking, Building, and Styling Spectacular Cakes includes a total of 150 recipes, which are divided into chapters that range from “Classic Cakes” and “Chocolate Cakes” to “Adventurous Cakes” and “Whimsical Cakes.” Her breathtaking photography will make anyone weak in the knees, and the clever combination of flavors proves that there’s a cake for every occasion. Tessa’s book sure convinced me that there should be way more cake in our lives! I believe some of her recipes could even have the power to transform E into a part-time cake lover. He sure did like this cake, and I’ve bookmarked many more for their life-changing potential (I’m looking at you, Butterscotch Bourbon Cake.)

Lemon Zucchini Cake with Goat Cheese Frosting and Lemon Glaze, a recipe adapted from the book Layered by Tessa Huff // FoodNouveau.com

If you’re a novice baker, you’ll find great tips to get you started and learning the basics of cake baking. But if you’re a cake enthusiast, you’ll also find instructions to challenge you to bake more intricate creations. Every dessert lover should own a copy of this book, even if it’s just to drool over for the photos.

Lemon Zucchini Cake with Goat Cheese Frosting and Lemon Glaze

Prep

Cook

Inactive

Total

Yield 10-12 servings

This zucchini cake has a deliciously moist crumb, an inventive goat cheese frosting, and a zesty glaze. A spectacular way to use summer squashes!

Ingredients

For the lemon zucchini cake

  • 2 1/2 cups (625 ml) all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp (10 ml) baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp (2 ml) baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp (2 ml) ground cardamom
  • 1/2 tsp (2 ml) kosher salt
  • 1/4 tsp (1 ml) freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/2 cup + 2 tbsp (150 ml) canola oil or grapeseed oil
  • 1 1/2 cups (375 ml) granulated sugar
  • 1 tbsp (15 ml) finely grated lemon zest (about 1 lemon)
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/2 lb. (225 g) grated zucchini, squeezed dry using paper towels
  • 3 tbsp (45 ml) buttermilk
  • 2 tbsp (30 ml) freshly squeezed lemon juice

For the goat cheese frosting

  • 4 oz (115 g) soft goat cheese, room temperature (you can substitute cream cheese)
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick / 115 g) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 3 cups (750 ml) powdered sugar
  • 2 to 3 tsp (10 to 15 ml) milk
  • 1 tsp (5 ml) pure vanilla extract

For the lemon glaze

  • 1 cup (250 ml) powdered sugar
  • Finely grated zest and squeezed and strained juice from 1/2 lemon (about 1 1/2 tsp zest and 2 tablespoons juice)

Instructions

For the lemon zucchini cake: Preheat the oven at 350°F (175°). Grease and flour two 6-inch (15-cm) cake pans (to produce a tall cake as pictured), or two 8-inch (20-cm) cake pans (to produce a larger cake). If you have more cake pans on hand, you can also divide the cake batter between four cake pans, which will save you the task of halving the cakes later.

Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cardamom, salt, and nutmeg. Set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer with a paddle attachment, or in a large mixing bowl if using a hand mixer, beat together the oil, sugar, and lemon zest together on medium speed for 2 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, then stop the mixer and scrape down the bowl. Turn the mixer to low and add the flour mixture in two batches, mixing just until incorporated. Add the zucchini, buttermilk, and lemon juice. Mix on medium speed for 30 seconds.

Evenly divide the batter between the prepared pans. Bake the 6-inch (15-cm) cakes for about 30 to 35 minutes, and the 8-inch (20-cm) cakes for about 35 to 40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cakes comes out clean. (If you used 4 cake pans, the baking time will be shorter, between 18 to 25 minutes. Make sure to monitor the cakes closely and remove them from the oven once they’re fully cooked.) Let the cakes cool for 15 minutes before removing them from their pans. Transfer them to wire racks and let them cool to room temperature (at least 1 hour).

For the goat cheese frosting: In the bowl of a stand mixer with a paddle attachment, or in a large mixing bowl if using a stand mixer, beat the goat cheese and butter together until smooth. With the mixer on low, gradually add the powdered sugar and vanilla, then mix until incorporated. If the frosting seems thick, add in the milk, one teaspoon at a time, until you reach a creamy consistency. Turn the mixer to medium-high speed and beat until the frosting is light and fluffy, 3 to 4 minutes.

To assemble the cake: Once the cakes are completely cool, cut off the pointed top part of each cake so they become completely flat discs (keep the cake scraps for nibbling!) Using a stand mixer, halve each cake horizontally to produce two layers (you don’t need to do this if you divided the batter between 3 or 4 cake pans.)

Place one cake layer on a serving dish or on a stand mixer. Using an stand mixer, spread one-third of the goat cheese frosting over the top of the cake. Top with the next layer of cake, and repeat twice with the frosting, ending with a naked fourth layer.

Make-ahead tip: You can refrigerate the cake covered with plastic wrap at this point. (Make the lemon glaze just before serving.) Make sure to take the cake out of the refrigerator 2 hours before serving to bring it back to room temperature.

For the lemon glaze: In a mixing bowl, whisk together the powdered sugar and the lemon zest and juice. The glaze should slowly drip off the side of a spoon. If it seems too thick, add a bit of lemon juice. Pour the lemon glaze onto the center of the top of the cake. Gently spread it, using an stand mixer, and let it drip over the edges of the cake. Decorate with additional grated lemon zest, if desired. Let the glaze set for 10 minutes, then serve.

STORAGE: Refrigerate leftover cake in stand mixer for up to three days.

Recipe Credit: Adapted from Layered: Baking, Building, and Styling Spectacular Cakes, a book by Tessa Huff, by Marie Asselin, FoodNouveau.com.

Courses Dessert

Disclosure notice: I was offered a copy of Layered: Baking, Building, and Styling Spectacular Cakes and the opportunity to host a giveaway on my blog by Food Bloggers of Canada. As always, companies never dictate the content I create, or the opinions I express. I only use products I genuinely believe in or feature books I truly love. This post also contains affiliate links. For more information, please read my Disclosure Policy.

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What do you think of this recipe? Got any questions? Let's chat!
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38 Responses to Lemon Zucchini Cake with Goat Cheese Frosting and Lemon Glaze

  1. I love angel food cake, so light and airy. great with strawberries, perfect summer dessert :) My favorite cake, though not really a cake and more of a layered dessert, is tiramisu. I also love the caramel meringue crunch cake. Delicious. This lemon zucchini cake looks and sounds absolutely perfect, great combination.

  2. Definitely angel food cake with layers of whipped cream and fruit. And I agree with you, we need more cake in our lives, especially if that cake is like this one. It looks totally yum and I love the goat cheese cream cheese swap. That got my attention!

  3. I love a chocolate cake with mocha whipped cream.
    Ps. I love your domed cake top, very pretty.

  4. My favourite cakes are anything matcha. Would love to create something as healthy and beautiful as the cake you’ve shown here! Thanks for holding this contest :)

  5. I’m torn between a good classic vanilla cake or red velvet with cream cheese. Or maybe pineapple-carrot cake with white chocolate cream cheese. Hard to pick just one some days!

  6. It’s a toss up between carrot cake and vanilla cake baked with fruit. They are both delicious and i would never ever say no to a slice of either!

    – amber y

  7. I love German chocolate cake with soaked cherries in the middle. My mom used to make it for me growing up.

    • Yum, that sounds great! Treats we enjoyed as children forever hold a special spot in our hearts, don’t they? My mom still makes me my favorite childhood cake every year, and I look forward to it. I’d be disappointed if she didn’t!

    • There’s something with a balance of tart and sweet that’s absolutely irresistible to me. But I agree that chocolate and mint is a classic combination!

  8. I love love love a classic chocolate cake with a fudgey chocolate icing. Always a a good idea! But a simple strawberry shortcake is pretty lovely too!!!

    • I agree that a chocolate/chocolate cake is a classic! Nobody will ever say no to that, right? And Strawberry Shortcake is an absolute summer delight.

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