Think of Fiona's recipe as an alternative to carrot cake. It's easy, wholesome and dairy free. You can serve it with ricotta, lemon and honey for brunch or a mid-morning treat. Or for a nut free option, leave out the pistachios and pop it in school lunchboxes.

Makes one log cake (8cm x 20cm) or 12 muffin size cakes

300g zucchini, coarsely grated (makes 2½ cups)

½ teaspoon salt

125g dates (7 dates), chopped and pip removed

1 tablespoon boiling water

150g (¾ cup) raw castor sugar

2 eggs

125ml (½ cup) oil, like grapeseed, rice bran or light olive oil

225g (1½ cups) wholemeal plain flour

3 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda

1 teaspoon mixed spice

35g (⅓ cup) pistachios, roughly chopped

12 thinly sliced rounds of zucchini, brushed lightly with oil (optional), for garnish

Preheat oven to 180°C.  Line a 8x20cm log tin with baking paper or line twelve muffin holes with paper baking cups.

Toss grated zucchini with the salt and place in a sieve sitting over a bowl.  Set aside.  Place dates in a small bowl and pour over boiling water.  Set aside.

Place sugar, eggs and oil in a large bowl and beat until creamy.  Sift the flour, baking powder, bi-carb soda and spice over the mixture.  Stir to combine well.  Gently squeeze excess water from the grated zucchini, there will be about 2 to 3 tablespoons of liquid to discard.  Add the zucchini, dates and pistachios to mixture and stir to combine well.

Spoon mixture into prepared tin or muffin holes.  If desired, arrange zucchini slices over the surface.  Bake log cake for 55-60 minutes, or small cakes for 20-25 minutes, until cake comes away from sides and a skewer comes our clean when inserted in the middle of cake.

Cool in tin for 5 minutes then remove and transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

For ricotta mix, stir 1 tablespoon of honey, ½ teaspoon lemon zest with 250g of fresh ricotta to combine well. To serve, spread mixture over cake slice.

Fiona Hammond © FEB 2018 

Recipe, photos and styling by Fiona Hammond. www.fionahammondfood.com   

Mark Brancatisano