Once upon a time a girl (me) who was destined to love shopping came down from the mountains to spend precious few weekends with her aunt – called with all the affection in the world – Nanny. Nanny worked downtown and spent her lunch hours shopping at a magical place called Larimer Square in Denver, Colorado. Larimer Square is a little slice of Denver that offers shops with hip Western flair, Old World lights strung across the buildings, at least one all-the-buzz-restaraunt, and a little cafe and gourmet curiosity shop, called The Market at Larimer. I have loved The Market since I was a kid, stopping for tea and a treat with Nanny. And I love it today, for the memories with Nanny, and THIS CAKE:
This object of beauty and delight is The Market’s Spring Fling cake.
It’s a relatively heavy cake, spiked with finely grated zucchini and balanced with a light whipped cream and cream cheese frosting.
The pastry is festooned with fresh fruit inside and on top, then brushed ever so gently with melted apricot jam for shine.
The cake is so, soooooo good that is has earned cult followers like me and appears at events of all kinds, even weddings.
The Spring Fling and I were first introduced at a law school buddy’s wedding. I actually laughed at the bride with all the cynicism one can muster for desserts when I learned zucchini cake would rule her wedding day.
Needless to say, after one bite, I was in love. Too bad I was already married.
A few years ago, a Denver newspaper printed the recipe for the Spring Fling cake for all to imitate. This is my best effort, served to rave reviews for a friend on her birthday who hearts carrot cake. From what she tells me, this was a fun, fantastic alternative to other veggies-hidden-inside cakes.
But please be warned, the Spring Fling does not deliver the health benefits of the Deceptively Delicious food-for-kids genre. This ain’t diet food, and depending on your mood, even kid friendly.
Why, you ask? Because the four layer tower you see before you required a TRIPLE BATCH of the frosting indicated. That’s my only remarkable adaptation of the original recipe and it’s highly recommended. Enjoy!
SPRING FLING CAKE
For the cake:
2 1/2 cups finely shredded zucchini
1 1/4 cups sugar
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 cup sour cream
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
pinch of salt
1.) Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour two 8-inch cake pans. I use baking spray with great results.
2.) Grate the zucchini with the “fine side” of your grater. In a large mixing bowl (you can use a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, but it’s not necessary), add the shredded zucchini, eggs, sugar, oil, sour cream and vanilla and mix on medium to combine.
3.) In a separate bowl, whisk together all of the dry ingredients (flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt) and gradually add the dry ingredients to the wet with the mixer set on low. Increase the speed to medium and mix until the ingredients are well combined. Scrape down the bowl as needed.
4.) Pour the batter evenly into the baking pans and bake for 35 to 50 minutes, testing with a toothpick in the center. Cake is done when the toothpick comes out clean.
5.) Cool the finished cake on a rack for 10 minutes, then remove the cake from the pans and allow the cake to cool completely before frosting.
For the frosting (already tripled from the original recipe):
2 1/4 cups cream cheese, softened
3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
6 cups powdered sugar
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1 tablespoon vanilla
1.) Using a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese and butter on medium high until creamy and smooth (3 minutes or so). Add the vanilla and mix until combined.
2.) With the mixer set to low, gradually add the powdered sugar, mixing until well combined.
3.) In a separate bowl, mix the cream until it is stiff. Then, using a rubber spatula, fold the whipped cream into the cream cheese mixture. Do not over mix.
Cake assembly and fruit festooning:
Seasonal clean, dry and sliced fresh fruit for layers and the top of the cake. The Market’s Spring Fling typically has kiwi, mango, grapes, strawberries and blueberries. I use whatever is on sale.
Don’t forget the smallest jar of apricot jam you can find.
1.) Cut the cooled cake layers in half lengthwise, making four layers.
2.) Spread even amounts of frosting between the layers and “dot” the layers with fruit.
3.) Frost the top and sides of the cake. The sides of the cake can be seen through the frosting. That’s okay.
4.) Arrange the fruit in circles over the top of the cake, starting near the center. Fill in gaps as needed with berries, halved grapes, etc.
5.) To finish, melt the apricot jam in a microwave or in a small saucepan over medium heat. You can pour the melted jam through a sieve for a smooth glaze, but it is not necessary. Using a pastry or silicone brush, lightly brush the melted jam over the fruit on the top of the cake. Do not apply too much glaze to the fruit, or it will drip.
6.) Place the cake in the refrigerator for at least an hour before serving to “set.”