Okay okay this is two Nigella’s in as many weeks but I implore you to try this cake, please!  Have you ever eaten carrot cake and enjoyed it?  Did you find it at all weird?  No.  Because it’s amazing.  So courgette cake is just as amazing.  The courgettes, in my view, just make for a creamy and slightly dense cake.
I first made this cake with an orange buttercream and I still love it.  I only used orange because I had orange essence in the cupboard, no limes and  a half hour walk to the nearest shop.
When a leftover stumps you, try to think of what flavours it has – what do you like to eat it with?  So for me, courgette is great because it has so many uses  – this week’s were trying to keep it basic but there’s room for courgette week 2. (Needless to say my children *love* my work.  So many courgette recipes for them to be eating…).  So, courgettes are mild and can blend into the background and, to me, that’s a benefit.  They just make this cake extra dense, in a way that a carrot or fudge cake is.
THOUGH- note to feeders of picky people: if you need to hide the courgette then peel it because, unpeeled, you get a light green marbled colour.  Though little kids who want to be the Hulk or a Ninja Turtle may be convinced that way…

Courgette cake

Based on St Queen Nigella Lawson, ‘How to be a Domestic Goddess’ pp18-19


250g courgettes (2-3) weighed before grating
2 large eggs
125 ml vegetable oil
150g caster sugar
220g plain flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 bicarbonate of soda
Pinch salt


100g cream cheese
100g unsalted butter OR 200g unsalted butter
500g caster sugar
100g icing sugar
few drops orange essence (no more than 1/4 teaspoon)


Box grater
Two large mixing bowls
Measuring jug
x2 7 inch round cake tins
Balloon Whisk
Greaseproof paper
Wire cooling rack

Electric whisk/stand mixer/food processor
Measuring spoons

10 minutes prep
10-20 minutes to mix the cake
30-40 minutes baking
Couple of hours to cool fully



Line the bottom of your cake tin with greaseproof paper
Turn the oven to 180C
Grate the courgettes on the chunky side of the box grater – do not use anything
finer because that will make mush. Mmm mush
Turn into a sieve so that any excess water will drip out


Whisk/sift together the flour, baking powder, bicarb and salt into a small bowl and set aside
In a larger bowl, whisk together eggs, oil and sugar in a bowl until creamy
Sieve in the dry mixture
Stir in grated courgette
Pour mixture in tins
Bake for 30 minutes until browned and firm to the touch
Leave in tins on a rack for 5-10 minutes before turning out then leave on rack to cool completely


Place cream cheese/butter in a large bowl
Sift over icing sugar
Add orange essence
Beat together
Add milk a tablespoon-full at a time until you have an icing that is thin enough to spread

Combine the cakes

Look at the two cakes. Take the fattest and use it for the bottom
If it’s got a big hill in the middle, take a bread/serrated knife and slice off a little to make it (more or less) flat. Eat that bit (never a leftover & all that)
Take about quarter of the icing and place in the middle of the cake
Use your spatula to spread it out
Pop the next quarter on and add it
Place second cake on top and repeat the icing steps
I am unable to ice a cake neatly so always go with “intentionally messy”

Got a question? Ingredient you need help with? Get in touch:


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