Bake or Break

Easy Lime Zucchini Cake

A moist and tender, easy zucchini layer cake from Nigella Lawson’s cookbook; made with fresh lime citrus filling and sprinkled with a topping of savory pistachios. A simple and flavorful zucchini cake recipe!

Layered zucchini cake with a lime citrus filling, topped with pistachios.

For the latest edition of Waiter There’s Something In My, the theme is layer cakes. Not being a fan of making layer cakes, I decided that this was my motivation to make one and contribute. I scoured many a recipe looking for a good candidate that would be delicious and a bit different. I was looking for more than your standard chocolate layer cake.

This lovely cake is from one of my favorite cookbooks, How to Be a Domestic Goddess by Nigella Lawson. She is very reassuring in her description of this cake that the strange main ingredient, zucchini, does indeed make for good cake. I believed her. After all, I am a big fan of zucchini bread.

Layered zucchini cake with a lime citrus filling, topped with pistachios.

As far as making the cake, it’s really rather simple. There are several separate components to make, but it all came together rather easily and quickly. And I had a beautiful cake to show for it in the end. If you like strong citrus flavors, then dive in and make it.

A slice of lime zucchini cake with citrus filling on a plate, topped with pistachios.

Easy Lime Zucchini Cake


For the cake:

  • 1/4 cup chopped dates or raisins (optional)
  • 12 ounces (340g) zucchini (2 or 3), weighed before grating
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup + 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 & 1/2 cups (180g) cake flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

For the lime curd:

  • 6 tablespoons (85g) unsalted butter
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup (100g) granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup lime juice (about 4 limes)*
  • zest of 1 lime*

For the frosting:

  • 7 ounces (198g) cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup (55g) confectioners’ sugar, sifted
  • juice of 1 lime, or to taste
  • 2-3 tablespoons chopped pistachios, for garnish


To make the cake:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease two 8-inch round cake pans. If you like, line them with parchment and grease the paper.
  2. If using the dates (or raisins), place them in a bowl and cover with warm water. Drain after about 5 minutes.
  3. Coarsely grate the zucchini (unpeeled) with a box grater. Place in a colander to drain.
  4. Using an electric mixer on medium speed, beat the eggs, oil, and sugar until creamy.
  5. With the mixer on low speed, mix in the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt until well combined. Stir in the zucchini and then the dates.
  6. Pour the batter into the prepared pans. Bake for 30 minutes or until the cakes are slightly browned and a pick inserted into the center comes out clean.
  7. Cool in the pans on a wire rack for 5 to 10 minutes. Then, remove the cakes from the pans and continue cooling on a rack.

To make the lime curd:

  1. Melt the butter in a heavy medium-sized saucepan. Add the remaining ingredients and whisk to a custard consistency over medium-low heat.
  2. Allow to cool completely.

To make the frosting:

  1. Using an electric mixer on medium speed, beat the cream cheese until smooth.
  2. Add the sugar and mix well. Next, stir in the lime juice.

To assemble the cake:

  1. Place one layer on a serving plate. Spread the lime curd onto cake.
  2. Next, place the second layer on top of the lime curd.
  3. Spread with frosting. Top with pistachios.


*Alternatively, you can use lemons instead of limes.

Recipe slightly adapted from How to Be a Domestic Goddess by Nigella Lawson.

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    14 Comments on “Easy Lime Zucchini Cake”

  1. This cake looks divine – what a shame you didn’t enjoy it much!

  2. Does this Zucchini cake freeze?

  3. Thanks, Sophie! I do wish I had liked it more, but there will be plenty more things for me to enjoy. Especially now that we’re approaching the holidays.

    Glen, I think you could freeze it. I might just freeze the cake itself and not the filling or icing.

  4. Your photo looks wonderful, Jennifer!

  5. Hey Jennifer! Thanks for the comment on the Italian Cream Cake! I love your blog and check it regularly. I’ve made quite a few things from here and they’ve all been delicious, but the Italian Cream Cake is definitely my favorite so far!

  6. This is the most glamorous zucchini cake I’ve ever seen. I usually make mine in a loaf pan without the filling or icing. It looks like the ugly stepsister next to this one. Looks like I’ll have to tap my inner goddess next time.

  7. Poor is always hit or miss with her.

  8. I’m with Peabody, Nigella’s recipes can be a bit off. I wonder if something went wrong in translation from Uk measurements to US? Do you use weight or volume in your baking, Jennifer?

    But not a loss, right? Cause holy smoked, that is one good-looking cake.

    And hey, think about doing a Bundt cake for the National Big Bundt Appreciation Bake-off, which I’m hosting in honor of Bundt Day, 11/15.

  9. Could you really taste the zucchini in the cake? Or did it just give it a particular flavor?
    I have one of Nigella’s books and not all the recipe turned out well… but she definitely is the citrus goddess! So many of her recipes use some form of it.
    Great photo nonetheless!

  10. Thanks, everyone, for the compliments!

    Nora, that’s a good thought, but the measurements were right. I actually thought after I mixed the batter, that if it were my recipe, I would have added more flavor to the cake. Oh, well… I will definitely try to get that Bundt cake done!

    Jenn, the zucchini didn’t really taste much like zucchini in the finished product. I realy think that if the citrus element were tamed down, I could have really liked it.

  11. I’m with you on chocolate but certainly wouldnt say no to a slice or two of this one. Many thanks for the conribution to waiter.

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