Courgette, lime and amaretti cake

I made this courgette, lime and amaretti cake for Nannie T who was down this weekend. Nannie T was dreading the thought of it, “Courgettes in a cake..” she said, “how many courgettes did you put in that?” I promised Nannie T that she would like it, even though I have never made a courgette cake before and, being me, had decided not to follow a recipe very closely. I was relieved, therefore, when I tasted the cake and realised that it isn’t just good, it’s utterly delicious. “Beautiful cake,” said Nannie T. “It’s so moist… you can’t taste the courgette at all.”


Ever since I had my first taste of courgette, lime and pistachio cake at Buttercup Cafe I have been waiting to get some courgettes in my veg box so I can try making one myself. For my version I pinched the base of Nigel Slater’s recipe (200g each of butter, flour, sugar and 2 eggs) but in place of nuts, raisins and fresh apple I added lime zest and amaretti biscuit crumbs that soften and spread through the cake mix lending it an irresistible hint of marzipan. The sweet almond matched with the sharp lime flavoured icing makes this cake a total winner, even for people who hate marra’.


Courgette, lime and amaretti cake

200g courgette (1 medium-sized courgette)
Zest of 1 lime
Juice of 1/2 lime
(if your limes aren’t too juicy use the zest of two and juice of 1)
40g amaretti biscuits
2 medium eggs
200g unsalted butter
200g unrefined caster sugar
200g plain flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
Pinch of salt, pinch of cinnamon

For the icing
250g mascarpone or cream cheese
Juice of 1 lime
6tbsp icing sugar, sifted
20g amaretti, crushed

Equipment: 10 x 20cm loaf tin | Oven: 180c

Recipe notes: to make a larger, layered birthday cake use double these quantities, divide evenly between two round tins and bake for about 50 mins. I have also made this cake successfully using half unsalted butter and half Trex vegetable fat. For a dairy-free version substitute 200g butter for 160g Trex.

Whisk the butter and sugar in a bowl until light and creamy.

Beat the eggs with a pinch of salt. Whisk the eggs into the sugar and butter a little at a time until the cake batter is smooth.

Add the coarsely grated courgette to the bowl and sieve the flour, baking powder and cinnamon into the cake batter.

Gently fold in all of the dry ingredients, including the crumbled amaretti biscuits and lime zest. Add juice of half a lime to soften the mix.

Spoon the cake batter into a buttered loaf tin (10x20cm) and place in the middle of the oven at 180c for about an hour. Check cake with a skewer, when the skewer comes out clean the cake is cooked. (Mine took 1 hour and 5 minutes.)

Cool in the tin for 10 minutes then transfer carefully to a wire rack to finish cooling before icing. (I couldn’t wait, which is why my icing looks a bit sloppy in the photo.)

For the icing

Sift the icing sugar into the lime juice and whisk to form a smooth paste, whisk in the cream cheese a dollop at a time and taste to check the balance of sweet and sour is right for you. The icing should be a little tart to counter the sweetness of the cake. Spread icing over the cooled cake and top with crumbled amaretti biscuits. Please note that the biscuits may soften on top of the icing if the cream cheese is quite wet, mascarpone is the best option because it is more dense and dry than Philadelphia.

My lime, courgette and amaretti cake as a layered birthday cake (March 2014)
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About Chloe King

I'm a freelance writer, designer and webby type. I live with my husband and daughter in the south of England. I like to cook and can throw a good party.

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6 comments on “Courgette, lime and amaretti cake

  1. March 24, 2013 at 3:18 pm

    Yeah, so, um… What are your thoughts on xylItol as a sugar alternative *runs away and buries head in sand of pretentious embarrassment*

    • March 24, 2013 at 7:32 pm

      I wouldn’t go there because I prefer to cook over a hob, not a bunsen burner. I have used agave nectar which is a super sweet, natural alternative to sugar but it wouldn’t be an easy substitute for all cooking. Why do you want to substitute sugar? I am a bit old school, I think it’s fine to use unrefined cane sugars as long as you consume in moderation. Although it has been named as the new food demon, I think that is because people have, to the detriment of their health, become used to eating an over-sweetened diet in general. I would question giving children xylitol as a sugar substitute for cavity prevention. I think it’s still helping to set kids up with a sweet tooth. So far I have managed to be pretty strict with my daughter, only giving her fruit juice with meals and limiting sugary snacks and dried fruit. I think saliva is good cavity prevention, so eat sweet stuff as part of a meal, not as a snack, and you limit chance of tooth damage without having to fork out on space age ingredients. Interested to know why you ask?

  2. March 27, 2013 at 10:07 am

    Oh because my sister in law is a crazed fan of patrick holford’s recipes for kids and I sort of got caught up in it (you should SEE her kids, they’re unreal. And yeah, I know, maybe it’s parenting not patrick but seriously, a lazy mother’s got to hope…) He’s all over xylitol and so I started experimenting with it last week ( I AM kind of a fan of agave though… So maybe I’m just a sucker?

    • March 27, 2013 at 11:54 am

      Wow, Pat is a new one on me. I will have a read. My nutritional guide is just my instinct. If it looks bad for you, smells bad for you and tastes bad for you it’s probably bad for you. I don’t cut any food from my diet, I just try to eat meat, fat, sugar in moderation and try to eat plenty of wholegrains, lentils, beans and veg. I love butter. I always use real butter and I love cheese, but I tend to buy strong cheeses so I need less of them to get a cheesy hit. I’m sure xylitol is fine as a sugar substitute. My hesitation comes because although it is naturally derived, it’s naturally derived through processes akin to those used in pharmaceutical manufacture, which I find off-putting.

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