I think all of my childhood memories orbit around food.
I’m not sure if this is good or bad. But Blitzkuchen (blitz-koo-chin) is one of my favorite memories. It means “Lightning Cake” in German because it’s so simple and so quick to make. Imagine something that crosses the bridge between a perfectly soft sugar cookie and a spongy pound cake, and there you have it.
When I was little, Mom would whip up this cake right in the middle of math (worst subject ever, even for this homeschool kid) and just when long division was becoming unbearable, it was ready. Vanilla and cinnamon would waft through the house, and I would know with certainty that I’d survive math after all. Lightning Cake to the rescue. I think the world needs a big pan of it.
1 cup butter, melted
1 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla
2 cups flour
In a mixing bowl, melt butter and stir in sugar and vanilla.Add eggs, whipping each one into the butter and sugar until smooth. Add flour and blend completely. Pour into a well-greased cake pan, sprinkle the top generously with cinnamon and sugar, and bake at 400 degrees until an inserted knife comes out clean. About 20 minutes.
I have this patch of rhubarb in my garden—the grandchild of a plant that has been growing at my house for more than thirty years, and it’s fantastically huge. In the height of summer it takes up a full 8-foot by 12-foot raised garden bed.
I love it.
I call it Gertrude.
It’s only the middle of May in Minnesota but I’ve already harvested two batches of rhubarb from Gertrude, and yesterday’s harvest was a whopper. I had to use a laundry basket to bring it all inside. A batch of rhubarb sauce ensued. Also this cake.
Now, I’ll be the first to admit that baking is not more forte. I’m better with main dishes and soup. There’s just so much chemistry in baking and I’ve never been great with chemistry. But.
But. But. But.
—Custard-like, loaded with fruit, and finished with a crisp sugared crust. The almond flavor adds a hint of something magic, and topped with a fresh dollop of whipped cream, it’s basically perfection.
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
1 1/2 cup sugar-in-the-raw
1 teaspoon almond extract
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 3/4 cup flour
4 cups diced rhubarb
In a large bowl or stand mixer, cream the butter and sugar together. The larger grains of sugar give everything a different texture, but trust me, the end result is amazing. Add almond extract, salt, baking powder, and eggs. Mix well. Scrape down the sides of your bowl and add the flour. The batter should be thick, almost thicker than expected. No worries, the juice from the rhubarb will thin it out a bit. Add the rhubarb and mix again. It’s going to look like too much fruit for the cake. But not to worry. The eggs and flour will eventually hold everything together.
I have a deep 8x 12, casserole pan I use to bake this cake. It will overflow a standard 9 x 9 cake pan. If you have a 9 x 16 cake pan, that may work better. Grease the pan well and spread the batter evenly with a spatula.
Sprinkle sugar-in-the-raw generously over the top.
Bake for 30 minutes at 350 degrees and then turn the heat down and bake for another hour and a half (yes, that’s correct) at 325 degrees. Keep an eye on it and cover the cake with aluminum foil if it begins to brown too darkly over the top. After it had been in the oven for a total of two hours, give the pan a light shake. If the center is still jiggly, continue baking at 325 until it sets. (The “insert knife until it comes out clean” trick won’t work on this one because the finished cake has an almost custard-like texture).
Allow the cake to cool once it has finished baking.
Serve with whipped cream or ice cream!
Why, yes. This is another zucchini recipe. I’m trusting you’ll forgive the repetition as, hopefully, you have these gorgeous squash coming out of your ears as well. I have a basket on my kitchen counter full of them. I keep looking at them and making promises. “You shall not go to waste! Nor you! I shall make something beautiful out of you!” And so. And so: Another zucchini recipe. This recipe calls for four cups of zucchini, so it’s a fantastic way to use up some of the excess.
CHOCOLATE ZUCCHINI CAKE
1/2 cup butter —softened
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 3/4 cups granulated sugar
2 tsp vanilla
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup greek yogurt
2 3/4 cups flour
3/4 cup cocoa powder
4 cups grated zucchini
1/2 cup semi sweet chocolate chips
1 cup butter
1 cup milk
1/2 cup cocoa powder
4-6 cups powdered sugar (as needed for desired thickness and weight)
In a large bowl, mix butter, vegetable oil and sugar. Add vanilla, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and eggs and continue mixing until well-combined. You can use a stand mixer, a hand mixer, or a good-old fashioned whisk, as you prefer. Spoon in the yogurt, cocoa powder, zucchini, and chocolate chips until smooth. Add the flour and combine well. (I always save the addition of flour for last so I can adjust the amount if necessary).
You can use a 9″x13″ pan for this cake, but I prefer loaf pans as the cake is easier to freeze and save for later. And I’m all about having cake on hand for later. So, whatever your pan preference, spray it well with a cooking spray or grease with butter so the cake will not stick to the sides of the pan. This recipe will make a deep cake in a 9″x13″ pan, or three loaf pans. Bake in a pre-heated oven at 325 degrees for 40-50 minutes or until a knife inserted into the cake comes out clean. Once the cake is baked, set aside and allow to cool.
In a medium saucepan over medium-low heat, melt butter, milk, and cocoa power together, stirring frequently. Remove from heat and whisk in powdered sugar until there are no lumps. If you want to pour or drizzle your frosting, do not add as much powder sugar, but if you’d rather smooth or spread the frosting (this is my preference), then feel free to add all, or even more than six cups of powdered sugar.