Go-To Recipes for Baking with Veggies: Zucchini, Beets, & Sweet Potatoes

The harvest in New England is here, and there's tons of amazing produce coming out of our farm fields and gardens. While there are numerous ways to prepare, cook, preserve, and maximize the bounty, baking with vegetables is a healthful* (*debatable...) way to get even more produce into your diet. If you're headed to a potluck, cooking or baking with kids, or just want a way to have a healthful-ish treat on hand, check out my go-to, simple baking with veggies recipes. (Bonus: These recipes are kid-tested! I **just** shared the Chocolate Zucchini Cake recipe with kids on the Reservation last week, and they helped to make the cake, happily ate it, and shared it with others at summer camp. It helps, too, that they harvested the zucchini directly from the garden!)


 Summer squash & zucchini! (A. Gross, July 2018)

Summer squash & zucchini! (A. Gross, July 2018)

Chocolate Zucchini Cake

This recipe was first brought to my attention by farmer and talented baker Rebecca Batchie of Fort Hill Farm. I've tweaked it slightly over the years for different dietary needs and/or whatever ingredients that I had on hand, and it still comes out great every time!* 

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups whole spelt flour (I have tried this with both Pamela's and Bob's Red Mill All Purpose Gluten Free Flour Blend, and it works perfectly as a substitute if you are going the GF route)
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1 1/2 cup sugar (I have used both organic granulated sugar cane and coconut sugar here and it works!)
  • 1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons olive oil (I've also used avocado, coconut, or safflower here - again, it works, but olive oil is my personal fave)
  • 2 Tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature (I've used room temperature extra virgin coconut oil as well)
  • 3 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/3 cup yogurt (Greek or regular)
  • 3 cups grated or shredded zucchini (Honestly, I've added up to 4 cups, and it's been equally delicious.)
  • 1 cup chocolate chips (optional, but who are we kidding...)

Instructions:

  1. Position a rack in the center of your oven, and preheat to 350F.
  2. Prepare at 9x13" rectangular pan. You can butter and flour your pan, but I line it with unbleached parchment paper.
  3. Sift the flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together in a medium bowl.
  4. In a large bowl with a hand mixer or in the bowl of a stand mixer on medium to high speed, beat the sugar, butter, and oil together until well combined.
  5. Add one egg at a time to the sugar-oil-butter mixture, beating well after each addition. Then, add the vanilla.
  6. Stir and/or fold in the flour mixture into the wet ingredients, blending until well combined.
  7. Stir in the yogurt, then the grated zucchini.
  8. When all ingredients are well incorporated, add mixture to the prepared pan.
  9. If using, evenly sprinkle the chocolate chips on top of the cake batter.
  10. Bake for 40-45 minutes, or until the cake springs back in the center.
  11. Cool completely on a wire rack.

Notes:

  • * I have not tested this recipe to substitute flax eggs or other egg replacers for the chicken eggs. But, I plan to test in the next iteration of this recipe and will update here. If you try it with an egg replacer, let me know!
  • Fresh zucchini works just fine in this cake, but, with the abundance of zucchini and summer squash now, you can also grate and freeze portions of 2 or 3 cups to make this recipe later.

 Beets, beets, beets! (A. Gross, August 2018)

Beets, beets, beets! (A. Gross, August 2018)

Chocolate Beet Cupcakes w/Dark Chocolate Sweet Potato Frosting

I've made variations on chocolate beet cakes over the years, but this one is my favorite version. Click here to see both recipes for Chocolate Beet Cupcakes and Dark Chocolate Sweet Potato Frosting

You can check out other iterations from the archives here: Chocolate Beet Cake (gluten free) with chocolate ganache (dairy free); Chocolate Beet Cake

Notes:

  • I've used all different types of beets for the recipe. BUT, I usually stick to red beets for flavor and how they naturally dye the batter red.
  • You can make the chocolate sweet potato frosting to top any cupcake/cake recipe. And, it keeps best (about three weeks) in a glass jar or container. You can even turn this frosting into a ganache, fudge, or some other sweet (but not cloyingly sweet) treat.

Notes on these recipes:

  • Both of these recipes freeze really, really well. This is super helpful if you end up making a few batches at once. OR, if self-control around baked goods is not your strong suit, cut into portions, freeze, and thaw/warm up and enjoy later!
  • I mentioned Fort Hill Farm earlier - not only is this an amazing organic farm, but its owners and farmers have also curated an extensive recipe archive. Check it out here and bookmark it. Food growers are among the best cooks whom I know!

Enjoy!

**And, if you end up making these and want to share, send some pics to speakwithyourfood@gmail.com or use #speakwithyourfood on social!**