This recipe for courgette and lemon cake is low in added sugar, zingy and light. It’s a great summer bake that the whole family will love. Plus it’s a great way to use up a glut of courgettes (zucchini) should you be lucky enough to have too many! Vegan option included.
Courgettes, also known as zucchini, are one of my favourite summer vegetables. Some years we grow our own and I love adding them to pasta dishes, stir fries, sides and anything else I can think of.
Getting the kids to eat them is more challenging however!
Baking with courgettes has proved more successful
Sticking courgettes in a cake has, however, proved more successful. Courgette chocolate muffins I’m talking about you!
My kids also love this courgette and lemon cake – although I must admit to being amazed that they don’t mind the “green bits”.
Making courgette cake
Courgette cake – or zucchini cake – is a classic summer bake. It’s often made as a loaf cake and can either be a lightly coloured cake or a more wholesome looking, darker loaf. I love this courgette and walnut loaf recipe by Mary Berry.
Courgettes can be quite a wet vegetable to bake with so it’s worth taking the time to squeeze any excess water out of them before baking this cake.
Low sugar baking
When I first wrote this recipe in 2015 I was doing a lot of refined sugar free baking. The original version of this courgette and lemon cake was sweetened with honey and bananas.
As I wrote then:
“I’ve been experimenting a lot lately with recipes for sugar-free cakes and other snacks to offer to my children after school or as pudding. Five-year-old R is really affected by sugar – especially if he has something sweet as a snack in the middle of the day. It doesn’t seem to be as bad if he has it as part of a meal – something to do with his blood sugar is my guess. It’s taken me years to make the link but it explains a lot.
“Sometimes sugar is unavoidable – for example at birthday parties – but at home I have an element of control in what I offer, if not what he actually eats. So in the hope of avoiding more bad behaviour we’re increasingly eating sugar-free bakes these days.”
It’s a great recipe to try with a picky eater as it does contain hidden vegetables but, I think, in a nice obvious way!
However, when I made this recipe again to update the photographs I found that I wasn’t keen on the texture. So for this updated version I have replaced the honey with 75g caster sugar. This is a much lower amount of sugar than most cakes contain yet it helps the taste and texture.
If you add the icing to this courgette lemon cake then the sugar content will be increased – this also helps to sweeten the cake. The icing is entirely optional.
If you’ve made the original version before and are missing it don’t worry – I’ve added a note at the end of the page with the original recipe.
Other vegetarian courgette recipes:
Pin courgette and lemon cake for later
How to make courgette and lemon cake:
Courgette and lemon cake
- 2 small-medium courgettes (zucchini) grated, around 350g
- 1 ripe banana mashed
- 2 eggs or sub flax eggs* (see notes)
- 75 g caster sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 100 ml sunflower oil
- 250 g plain flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp bicarbonate soda
- 50 g ground almonds
- zest of 2 lemons
To ice (optional)
- 175 g icing sugar sifted
- 2 tbsp lemon juice
- grated lemon zest to decorate, optional
Pre-heat the oven to 180°C (fan)/200°C/gas mark 6. Grease and line a 900g loaf tin with non stick baking paper. If you leave some of the baking paper hanging over the ends it will be easier to remove your cake.
Grate 2 small-medium courgettes into a colander (you need around 350g grated courgette) and use your hands to squeeze out as much excess water as possible. Leave in the colander and set aside.
Mash a ripe banana into a large mixing bowl. Beat in 2 eggs or flax eggs (see note*), 75g caster sugar and 1 tsp vanilla extract. Add 100ml sunflower oil and beat again until well mixed.
Sift in 250g plain flour, 1 tsp baking powder and 1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda and fold into the mixture. Fold in 50g ground almonds.
Stir through the grated courgette and lemon zest.
Pour into the prepared loaf tin and bake for 45 minutes until firm to the touch and a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean. Leave in the tin to cool completely.
To ice, optional
Once the cake is completely cool mix together 175g sifted icing sugar with 2 tbsp lemon juice. Pour over the cake and decorate with grated lemon zest if desired. Leave to set.
Store in an airtight container in a cool place.
*To make two flax eggs mix 2 tbsp ground flax seed (linseed) with 5 tbsp cold water. Set aside until you have a gloopy mixture.
This recipe was updated in July 2019. The original quantities are as follows and you will need to use a 20cm square cake tin. You can follow the method above adjusting the quantities as you go.
- 2 bananas, mashed
- 3 eggs
- 5 tbsp honey
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 75g butter, softened
- 375g self raising flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 50g ground almonds
- 2 medium courgettes, grated
- zest of 1-2 lemons
NB: this recipe and photographs were updated in July 2019