The Best Happy, Healthy-ish Birthday Cake Ever

(Graphic: Kat Borosky/TueNight)

Happy Birthday, TueNight! You’ve made it through year one, which in web years is a mighty accomplishment.

Your birthday celebration would be incomplete without cake. To get this party started, I’m sharing a recipe from the KOD vault that has figured into sundry momentous occasions over the years.

“The Bundt is an emblem of kinder, gentler times, when school bake sales were legal and somebody’s mother would cut one into hunks and call it “coffee cake.”

Break out that Bundt pan that’s been collecting dust; you’re going to need it (and if you live in a Bundt-free zone, you can pick up one secondhand at your neighborhood thrift shop for just a few bucks). For newbies, a Bundt pan is deep and round with lots of ridges but best defined by its middle chimney which leaves a hole in the center of a cake.

The Bundt is an emblem of kinder, gentler times, when school bake sales were legal and somebody’s mother would cut one into hunks and call it “coffee cake.” It might have been what mom made for the bridge group or what she’d take to comfort a neighbor in distress. It’s decidedly unfussy, often unfrosted and always comforting. It doesn’t take a baking genius to make a Bundt cake, and almost better if it’s the first time.

Our birthday Bundt is chocolate, spiced up with cinnamon and cardamom, but to make things interesting and even more nurturing, we add a few cups of grated zucchini which adds moisture much like a carrot cake. So the day has already begun with a serving of veg. For a bit more indulgence we’re adding a little whipped yogurt “cream” that takes about 30 seconds to make.

We may live in an increasingly digital world, but nothing compares to real, honest-to-goodness baked goods that you’ve made with your own two hands. Nothing virtual, no scratch and sniff, just the real deal. And the smiles, and oh the disco dancing that will ensue, they will be worth all the elbow grease. And please do your part as a citizen of the digital universe, and tweet that shit. This cake is too good to keep yourself.

(Photo: Kim O’Donnel)


  • About 1 pound zucchini
  • Butter or oil for greasing
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 cup olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 3 ounces unsweetened chocolate
  • ½ cup semi-sweet chocolate chips


Grate the zucchini until you have a total of 2 cups. Place in a strainer or colander set over a bowl to drain.

Thoroughly grease the bottom and sides of a Bundt pan or angel food cake pan with butter or a light coating of oil.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Beat the sugar and eggs with a hand-held electric beater (or in the bowl of a stand mixer) on medium high speed, for about two minutes, until light in color and thickened. Use a rubber spatula to scrape down sides of bowl. Gradually add oil in a steady stream while mixing. Continue to mix until batter is yellow in color (with olive oil, it will be slightly green) and thick, about 90 seconds, followed by the vanilla extract.

In a bowl, add the flour, cinnamon, cardamom, baking powder and salt, and with a wooden spoon, stir to combine.

In a double boiler or in the microwave, melt the unsweetened chocolate and add to the wet ingredients, folding in with rubber spatula. Add the dry ingredients in thirds, stirring in between additions.

Gently fold in the grated zucchini and mix with a spatula until just incorporated. Finally, add the chocolate chips and stir again. Pour the batter into prepared pan and spread evenly.

Place pan on a baking sheet and bake until a skewer comes out nearly clean in the middle, 45 to 50 minutes. Be careful to not over bake. Transfer to a baking rack and allow to rest for 10 minutes. Run a soft-edged knife or flexible spatula along the edges of the pan to help it release. Place a plate on top of the pan, grab the edges of both plate and pan and invert. You should hear a thud, that is your cue that the cake has successfully inverted. If the cake is stuck, spank the bottom of the pan. You can also try placing a steaming hot dish towel under the bottom of the pan.

Allow to completely cool (about an hour) before eating. Freezes well.

MAKES 10 to 12 servings

Note: When zucchini is out of season, you can substitute 1 cup grated beets, from 1 whole unpeeled beet, boiled until fork tender (about 1 hour).



  • 1 cup of 2% or “traditional” plain Greek yogurt
  • ¼ to ½ cup confectioners’ sugar or good-quality maple syrup
  • Kitchen notes: No Greek yogurt in your neck of the woods? Place a metal sieve over a bowl and pour plain yogurt into the sieve, letting it drain for 30 minutes or so.


Place the yogurt in a medium-size bowl, along with ¼ cup  of the confectioners’  sugar, and whisk vigorously. The yogurt will loosen and whip quite readily. Taste for sweetness, and add more sugar as needed.

Tell Us in the Comments

What do you think?

One Response

  1. Wilhelmina

    I just wanted you to know that even though I haven’t been commenting lately, I’ve read all of your recent posts, and as usual – they are all fabulous. How is it that you are not a world famous writer? Your stuff is better than half of the Bo;#1r&d82e7rs inventory.


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