Bright and refreshing lemon zucchini cake with stabilized vanilla whipped cream frosting. Lemon brings out the freshness in this cake and makes me feel like I’m still holding on to the last bits of summer. This may look like a dense cake, but it has a tender crumb and doesn’t taste overly sweet. Even though it looks sinful, this cake is packed with healthy nutrients from oat flour, nutritional yeast, and, of course, Zucchini!
After several friends and relatives started requesting more gluten free desserts, I have started testing all sorts of recipes. To be honest, many recipes don’t make it to the blog. It’s either because they are perfect the way they are or because they don’t pass the husband test. If you’re wondering what the husband test is, its exactly what you’re thinking. If my husband doesn’t really care for a dessert, we don’t deem it blog-worthy.
This lovely recipe, however, is absolutely blog-worthy! It is a recipe I developed after eating an amazing Flourless Chocolate Zucchini Cake from The Big Man’s World food blog. I was so thrilled with the results that I started to experiment the base recipe with other flavors and frostings.
This gluten-free lemon zucchini cake is one of the most delightful cakes I’ve made in a while! The stabilized whipped cream frosting is extremely airy, and slightly sweet with a hint of lemon. Made in a loaf pan, this is the perfect sized cake for a small dinner party of 8.
Ingredients used (and substitutions)
- Heavy cream – adds a delicious flavor to this dish by creating a thick “buttermilk” mixture.
- Lemon juice & zest – gives the perfect citrus-y freshness to this cake. (I love this zester!)
- Oat flour – a gluten-free alternative to all-purpose flour. Substitute with AP flour if you’d like.
- Arrowroot powder – a gluten-free starch. Substitute with corn starch or tapioca starch.
- Baking soda & Baking powder – leavening agents provide structure to this cake.
- Salt – enhances the flavors of the cake
- Nutritional yeast – nutrient boost without a noticeable flavor in the finished cake. Optional.
- Granulated sugar – for a perfectly sweet cake!
- Olive oil – Provides healthy fat and keeps the cake moist.
- Yogurt – Plain or Lemon flavored (I prefer to use Siggy’s Icelandic Skyr.)
- Vanilla Extract – provides added flavor to the cake.
- Zucchini – provides extra nutrients, moisture, and structure to the cake.
- Stabilized Vanilla Whipped Cream Frosting (heavy whipping cream, sugar, vanilla instant pudding mix, and lemon extract)
Just like in my carrot cake or double chocolate zucchini muffin recipes, the shredded vegetable in this recipe adds moisture and texture. Zucchini contain more than 90% water and a good amount of fiber and vitamins, so adding them to a cake is nothing more than mixing in flavorless healthy moisture.
Before you begin making this lemon zucchini cake, you’ll need to prep your zucchini so it doesn’t add TOO much moisture to the cake. It’s important not to skip this step or else your cake will be too watery and have a gummy texture.
Peeling the zucchini isn’t mandatory, but keep in mind there will be bits of green peel in the cake. If you want your cake to not show the zucchini, then peel the zucchini (also peel them if they have a thick skin, often when they are old).
- Grate the zucchini using the large holes of a box grater or a food processor.
- Scoop up the zucchini in handfuls, squeezing out excess liquid. You can use a paper towel, dishcloth or even just your hands. Make sure to do this with all of the zucchini until it is fully wrung out.
How to make gluten free lemon zucchini cake
There is no mixer needed, just use two bowls to combine dry and wet ingredients separately. Below is a brief overview of the steps to make lemon zucchini cake.
- Combine the heavy cream and lemon juice and set aside for 5-10 minutes to curdle.
- Mix the lemon zest with the granulated sugar and set aside for 5-10 minutes to enhance the flavor.
- Line a loaf pan with parchment paper, leaving enough overhang on either side to remove the cake from the pan. Preheat oven to 350℉/177℃.
- In a large bowl, combine dry ingredients: oat flour, arrowroot powder, baking soda, baking powder, nutritional yeast (optional), and salt.
- In a medium bowl, combine the wet ingredients: heavy cream/lemon mixture, sugar/lemon zest mixture, olive oil, yogurt, and vanilla. Combine wet/dry ingredients. Gently fold in the zucchini.
- Add the batter to the loaf ban and bake for 35-40 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let the cake cool completely in the pan before frosting it.
- Save time! There is no need to peel the zucchini skin ahead of time as it will not alter the final cake. When shredding the zucchini, trim off the ends and shred using the large side of a box grater.
- Squeeze the zucchini! In a paper towel or with your bare hands, take the zucchini shreds and squeeze as much moisture out as you can.
- Add White Chocolate! If you’re looking to add extra flavor or sweetness, add white chocolate chips to the batter.
- Garnish your cake! Zest a lemon over the top of your cake or add fresh thyme leaves for natural sprinkles.
Storing lemon zucchini cake
Store this cake in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days for maximum freshness. I preferred this lemon zucchini cake cold, straight from the refrigerator. In addition, it can also be served at room temperature. To freeze this cake, store the cooled, frosted cake in an airtight container for up to two months for best results. Thaw the cake overnight in the refrigerator.
More of my favorite lemon cakes
- Perfect Lemon Cake: A truly perfect lemon tea cake that’s exceptionally moist, tender, delicate, and bursting with lemon flavor. It’s topped with a sticky lemon glaze.
- Lemon Mascarpone Cake: Creamy and sweet mascarpone cheese flavor combines perfectly in this slightly tart lemony pound cake.
- Lemon Bundt Cake: Incredibly easy-to-make, moist and tender lemon Bundt cake recipe is bursting with lemon flavor. Soaked in lemon syrup and topped with sticky lemon glaze.
- Lemon Olive Oil Cake: A light and tender lemon cake made with olive oil, this simple cake is full of complex flavors.
Disclaimer: As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. I endorse products that I love and use daily.
Lemon Zucchini Cake (Gluten Free)
Light and refreshing lemon cake made gluten free with oat flour and zucchini with a stabilized vanilla whipped cream frosting.
Lemon Zucchini Cake
- ½ cup heavy cream
- ¼ cup lemon juice (juice of two medium lemons)
- 1 ½ cups (180g) Oat Flour
- 1 Tablespoon arrowroot powder
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- pinch salt
- 1 Tablespoon nutritional yeast (optional)
- ⅔ cup (140g) granulated sugar
- ½ Tablespoon lemon zest (from one medium lemon)
- ¼ cup (2 oz) olive oil
- ½ cup (120g) yogurt, plain or lemon flavored
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ¼ cup (55g) zucchini, shredded, squeezed thoroughly
Stabilized Vanilla Whipped Cream Frosting
- 1 cup (8 fl oz) heavy whipping cream
- 2 Tablespoons granulated sugar
- 2 Tablespoons instant vanilla pudding mix
- 1 teaspoon lemon extract (optional)
Combine the heavy cream and lemon juice and set aside for 5-10 minutes to curdle.
Mix the lemon zest with the granulated sugar and set aside for 5-10 minutes to enhance the flavor.
Line a loaf pan (8.5 x 4.5 inches) with parchment paper, leaving enough overhang on either side to remove the cake from the pan. Preheat oven to 350℉/177℃.
In a large bowl, combine oat flour, arrowroot powder, baking soda, baking powder, nutritional yeast (optional), and salt.
In a medium bowl, combine the heavy cream/lemon mixture, sugar/lemon zest mixture, olive oil, yogurt, and vanilla. Add the liquid mixture to the bowl of dry ingredients and mix until combined. Gently fold in the zucchini.
Add the batter to the loaf ban and bake for 35-40 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let the cake cool completely in the pan before frosting it.
In the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, add the heavy whipping cream, sugar, instant vanilla pudding, and lemon extract (optional). Mix on high until the whipped cream creates stiff peaks. You'll know it's ready when it retains the whisk marks on the surface very well when you stop the mixer.
Spread the frosting onto the cooled cake. Once frosted, refrigerate for at least 30 minutes so the frosting sets completely. When you're ready to serve, remove the cake from the pan by lifting on the parchment paper sides, slice, serve. (I used lemon zest and thyme to garnish this cake.)
Double this cake recipe if you’re looking to fill an 8×8 or 9×9 inch cake pan or 9 inch round.