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!
They've turned their noses up at my courgette curry, courgette fritters and courgette overnight oats.
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.
Take the time to squeeze out the water
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."
This is a great recipe to try with a picky eater
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.
More courgette recipes
If you like this you might also like:
- Courgette and potato fritters
- Lemon, courgette and blueberry overnight oats
- Banana and courgette buckwheat pancakes
- Courgette polpette
- Summer chickpea and courgette curry
- Courgette and banana muffins
See my favourite courgette recipes and get some cooking tips
Pin courgette and lemon cake for later
How to make courgette and lemon cake:
If you have made this recipe I would love it if you’d leave a comment and rating below. Thank you!
Please do not reproduce this recipe without permission.
Courgette and lemon cake
- 2 small-medium courgettes (zucchini) grated, around 350g
- 1 ripe banana mashed
- 2 eggs or sub flax or chia eggs* (see notes)
- 75 g caster sugar**
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 100 ml sunflower oil
- zest and juice of one lemon
- 250 g plain flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon bicarbonate soda
- 50 g ground almonds
To ice (optional)
- 175 g icing sugar sifted
- 2 tablespoons 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.
- If using flax or chia eggs make these now (see notes) or beat your eggs.
- 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, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract and the zest and juice of your lemon. Add 100ml sunflower oil and beat again until well mixed.
- Sift together 250g plain flour, 1 teaspoon baking powder and ½ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda and gently fold into the mixture.
- Fold in 50g ground almonds.
- Gently stir through the grated courgette.
- Pour into the prepared loaf tin and bake for 1 hour or until firm to the touch and a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean. Check the cake after 50 minutes and if the top is getting too brown cover with foil and return to the oven.
- Leave in the tin to cool completely.
To ice, optional
- Once the cake is completely cool mix together 175g sifted icing sugar with 2 tablespoon 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 or chia eggs mix 2 tablespoon ground flax seed (linseed) or ground chia seeds with 6 tablespoon cold water. Set aside until you have a gloopy mixture.
- **For a sweeter cake increase up to 150g sugar.
- Nutritional information is approximate and is intended as a guide.
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 tablespoon honey
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 75g butter, softened
- 375g self raising flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 50g ground almonds
- 2 medium courgettes, grated
- zest of 1-2 lemons
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Could you use the courgette juice for the flax egg?
I haven't ever tried that but I can't think of a reason why not. Let me know how it goes.
My kids really loved this recipe! It's a great way to get some sneaky veg into them. I first tried this recipe when battling an egg allergy with my youngest and it was one of the best flax egg recipes I've found! Thanks so much
Thanks so much Natalie - I'm so glad to hear that you loved it!
Cake turned out delicious! I substituted the ground almonds with wholemeal coarse flour due to a nut allergy in the family. Definitely worth taking extra time to squeeze all the water out the courgette that you can!
Thanks Sara - so glad you liked it and great to know that it works well without the ground almonds too. Agree about squeezing the water out.
Thank you for sharing this recipe but it did not work for me. I tried out the vegan version of the recipe with flax seeds and the cake did not rise at all. It was gooey and gloopy. I followed the recipe and used the proportions you mentioned. Have you made this cake vegan before?
Hi Fatema - sorry to hear that the cake didn't work for you. Yes, I have tested it as a vegan cake - the one in the photographs is vegan. It's common for vegan cakes to rise less than non-vegan as the flax eggs only help it to hold together, not to rise. However, it shouldn't have been gloopy. Did you squeeze the water out of the courgettes before baking?
Hi again Fatema, I just wanted to let you know that I tested the cake again as a vegan cake today and it worked fine for me. I have updated the recipe with a weight for the grated courgettes and also added 1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda so that it can rise a little better.
Agree with Fatema. When you make the vegan version it does not rise and is too solid. I think there are too many courgettes. Half the 350g might have worked. By the way, I did squeeze them well.
Sorry to hear it didn't work well for you. It always turns out well for me and if you've squeezed the courgettes well it should work. Thanks for your feedback.
Julie's Family Kitchen
Your cake looks delicious and the green bits are a lovely hint of the secret goodness inside.
Helen at CAsa Costello
I think the green bits are lovely! My 4yo would think they were so interesting. What a light bake this looks like. Thanks so much for joining in with #Bakeoftheweek New roundup now open x
Thanks Helen! I'm very glad that my kids are getting more accustomed to the green bits!
Megan - Truly Madly
What a fab recipe! Great for left overs! #bakeoftheweek
Super recipe! I am going to pin this for when I am back on a 'normal' diet...but I will be adapting it to be gluten and dairy free too!! Thanks for sharing.
Thanks Vicki. I think this would be a great "free from" recipe. Would love to see your cake if you do make it!
That looks yummy! I've never tried courgette cake before. But I love the idea of a cake without refined sugar. Little Miss H has a sweet tooth (like her mummy) so I really want to cut down on the sugar we eat. Hugs Mrs H xxxx
Courgette cake is so good! You can use a traditional carrot cake recipe and just use courgette instead but I'm working hard to try to cut down my kids' sugar intake. Let me know if you try it x
Kate @ Veggie Desserts
I know what you mean about 5year olds and sugar! It's awful! I love courgette cakes and this one sounds soooooo good! Thanks for linking up with #ExtraVeg!
Thanks Kate! It's so hard to avoid sugar though. Seems to be everywhere.
In the past I have peeled the courgettes to avoid "green bits" that the fussy ones notice
Thanks Adele. I've done this in the past too but I'm trying hard to get the children used to eating these things at the moment!
That looks so delicious and honey in cakes gives such a lovely flavour and richness. I use rapadura quite a lot in my baking, which is dried cane juice and is meant to have a much lower glycemic index and generally be much better for you than processed sugar. Also coconut sugar, maple syrup and date syrup. Sadly all of these things are expensive, so I resort to unrefined sugar most of the time. I do bake with wholemeal flour though and think that helps to reduce the sugar rush.
Thanks Choclette. I've never heard of rapadura so will definitely look out for it. As you say the other syrups are too expensive to use every time!