Spiced Zucchini Cake … [Travel to Learn]

I surprised hubby with an afternoon of Cable Skiing for our ten year wedding anniversary … we’re into experiences rather than “stuff” and this fit the bill perfectly.  He’d water skied a couple of years before and loved it.  We just hadn’t got back to it.

I loved watching on – next time I’ll even partake in the glass of wine and tapas available for spectators (smart businessman!).  Jason has run his Bram Lake business for the last ten years but has the passion and zest of someone who has just started. I couldn’t help but be impressed with how encouraging and supportive he was of my son’s first go at cable skiing. As I was chatting to Jason lakeside, I noticed his elaborate tattoo that decorated his left calf muscle with the words “Travel to Learn” forever inked on his skin. Naturally this started a very interesting conversation … I got side tracked on my job as chief photographer for a while!

The take out was this … we travel to learn not necessarily about the Colosseum in Rome or the extraordinary times some of our great artists lived through as they painted the Mona Lisa or wrote Les Miserables, but more so for the lessons we learn about ourselves. If you’re travelling for just a few weeks, you’re bound to meet a challenge or two that is outside your comfort zone and requires a little creative thinking to solve.  You’ll apply this lesson elsewhere in life no doubt. Even if you’re on an organised tour, you’re not going to love every person on that bus – you’ll need to muster some people skills in order to maximise the enjoyment of your trip. But spend longer travelling, and you will pick up a plethora of lessons – some interesting, some hard and some that will take you a while to fully realise. But all will serve as reference points in your life and invaluable examples with which to teach your kids.

My three children are doing a couple of weeks of one on one swimming training before the weather turns icy. The coach commented to me about how flexible the kids were, how quick they were to pick up on his teaching and it occurred to me that they haven’t always been that way. Travelling away from their home country has been so good for them. They’ve learned to go with the flow (this is certainly easier for one of them than for the other two – aren’t personality types fascinating!?), to find ways to communicate when they couldn’t use words, to overcome fears and be brave even when they wanted to crawl into mum’s lap. Travelling has changed so many things about the way we think and the way we feel about life that I almost want to run out and get my own tattoo. OK maybe I won’t be that dramatic, but Jason’s message rings so true to me that I passionately want to encourage other families to do as we have done if it’s something they’ve dreamt about. I’m writing a book to this effect and if it inspires just one other family to go grab the experience, then I’ll be happy.

Our new routine leaves me with plenty of precious time to not only write but also to cook and I feel like I have learned a truck load of new ways to eat courgettes lately! They are so plentiful and sweet at the moment that we have been getting creative with ways to eat them all up.  Zucchini soup is so quick and easy, Pasta with Zucchini sauce is fresh and tasty, especially when I have Emma’s recipe to follow, Stuffed Zucchini is a winner with the kids and Zoodles make a great replacement for pasta with bolognese sauce. So that brings me to Zucchini Cake. I have played around with this cake recipe as I am not naturally a very good baker. I rarely eat cake – it has to be moist and full of flavour for me to enjoy it. The zucchini in this cake does help it stay moist and the spices remind me that Autumn is here in France. Serve this cake warm with fresh figs or other seasonal fruit and a dollop of mascarpone. Or make two – they freeze well and can be rewarmed before serving.

zuc cake w fig crm 2
Serve with fresh figs, mascarpone and walnuts for a wholesome treat.


zuc cake w fig 2
I made two small loaves and froze one for later.

3 medium zucchinis, finely grated
1 ½ cups nut meal (I used half almond meal and half finely processed walnuts)
1 ½ cups flour (T45 french flour if you can get it)
1 tsp baking powder
200 gms rapadura or coconut sugar
1 cup coconut oil
2 tsp ground dry ginger
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg
3 eggs

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees and grease or line with baking paper, a large round cake pan (or two smaller pans – round or loaf).
Prepare the grated zucchini and the finely processed nuts and set aside. In a food processor or with electric beaters, combine the eggs, coconut oil and sugar for 2-3 minutes until they are light and creamy. Add the vanilla.
In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, spices, ginger and baking powder.
Combine the dry ingredients with the wet as well as the zucchini and nut mixture and stir or blend well to combine.
Poor into the cake pan/s and bake for 35-50 minutes depending on the size pans you have used. Check at the 30 minute mark. The cake is ready when a toothpick comes out of the centre clean and the sides start to come away from the pan.
Allow the pan to stand for at least ten minutes before you invert it out onto a cooling rack. Allow to cool completely before freezing.

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