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Spice up squash in zingerbread cake

Cake on plate
Zingerbread makes a fine dessert with blueberries in the cake and more berries alongside. (Photos: Kathy Morrison)

Add blueberries for a summery touch

It's time to shake the dust off the zucchini recipe collection. A gardener's favorite squash is back in season.

But the plants are going to be producing for awhile, so we like to provide new options for The Squash That Keeps on Giving.

This recipe, adapted from " The Classic Zucchini Cookbook," brings together zucchini and gingerbread, which I usually associate with fall and winter. But add some blueberries to the mix, like I did, and it becomes a great picnic cake, a brunch offering or a vehicle to show off even more summer fruit. Whipped cream, ice cream, fruit sauce -- all good.

Zucchini squash
Two 8-inch zucchini will provide about 3 cups grated squash.
Zingerbread with blueberries
Serves 12


3 cups grated zucchini (from two 8-inch squash)
1 teaspoon salt
3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour, plus more for pan
3 to 4 teaspoons ground ginger (it's quite spicy with 4)
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened, plus more for pan
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup molasses (light or dark)
2 eggs
1 cup hot brewed coffee
1 to 1-1/2 cups blueberries, washed, dried and tossed with 1/2 tablespoon flour
Powdered sugar, for garnish

To serve alongside, optional:
Whipped cream, vanilla ice cream, fresh berries or other fruit, applesauce, lemon sauce or any freshly made fruit sauce


Combine the grated zucchini and salt in a colander, stirring to mix. Set aside to drain for 30 minutes.

The grated zucchini drains for 30 minutes.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour a 9-by-13-inch baking pan.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, ginger, soda, cinnamon, allspice and nutmeg. Set aside.

Put the butter and light brown sugar in large mixing bowl. Cream the butter and sugar, then add the eggs one at a time, beating well until combined. Add the molasses and mix well. Don't worry if the mixture appears curdled.

Using a clean dish towel, squeeze the excess moisture from the drained zucchini, and add the squash to the bowl, blending just to combine. Add the flour mixture alternately with the coffee, mixing just until combined.

Gently fold in the flour-coated blueberries. Pour the batter into the prepared pan, smoothing the top.

Bake for 30 minutes, or until the top springs back when touched and a toothpick or thin knife inserted near the center comes out clean.

Cool the cake on a rack before cutting.
Sprinkle powdered sugar over cake. Cool the cake on a wire rack 10 minutes before cutting. Or let it cool completely and serve at room temperature.

Serve plain or with any of the suggested accompaniments.


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A recipe for preparing delicious meals from the bounty of the garden.


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Dig In: Garden Checklist

For week of March 26:

Sacramento can expect another inch of rain from this latest storm. Leave the sprinklers off at least another week. Temps will dip down into the low 30s early in the week, so avoid planting tender seedlings (such as tomatoes). Concentrate on these tasks before or after this week’s rain:

* Fertilize roses, annual flowers and berries as spring growth begins to appear.

* Knock off aphids with a strong blast of water or some bug soap as soon as they appear.

* Pull weeds now! Don’t let them get started. Take a hoe and whack them as soon as they sprout.

* Prepare summer vegetable beds. Spade in compost and other amendments.

* Prune and fertilize spring-flowering shrubs after bloom.

* Feed camellias at the end of their bloom cycle. Pick up browned and fallen flowers to help corral blossom blight.

* Feed citrus trees, which are now in bloom and setting fruit.

To prevent sunburn and borer problems on young trees, paint the exposed portion of the trunk with diluted white latex (water-based) interior paint. Dilute the paint with an equal amount of cold water before application.

* Cut back and fertilize perennial herbs to encourage new growth.

* Seed and renovate the lawn (if you still have one). Feed cool-season grasses such as bent, blue, rye and fescue with a slow-release fertilizer. Check the irrigation system and perform maintenance. Make sure sprinkler heads are turned toward the lawn, not the sidewalk.

* In the vegetable garden, transplant lettuce and kale.

* Seed chard and beets directly into the ground.

* Plant summer bulbs, including gladiolus, tuberous begonias and callas. Also plant dahlia tubers.

* Shop for perennials. Many varieties are available in local nurseries and at plant events. They can be transplanted now while the weather remains relatively cool.

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