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Zucchini Coffee Cake

This sweet zucchini coffee cake is perfect for breakfast or dessert. Filled with fresh finely shredded zucchini and cinnamon brown sugar flavor. Perfectly moist and ready in no time!

I’m having surgery on Monday and I’m scared.

Do you know how weird it is to be an adult and be scared? When I was a kid I thought that being an adult meant you were scared of nothing. Little did I know that being an adult meant I would just grow a whole set of new fears and responsibilities. I’ve never had surgery before so the idea seems so foreign to me. At my doctors appointment I made my doctor go over everything with me and explain exactly how the anesthesia worked and how it would be given. Then I started crying because that’s what I do in stressful situations. 

If you don’t want to hear about my surgery please feel free to skip this section and move onto the recipe. Spoiler alert: the surgery is in my breast so there will be boob talk. You’ve been warned.

When I was in 7th grade they passed around a fake boob with a small lump in the breast and made everyone feel it so you would know what a worrisome lump actually felt like. Ever since then I have given myself breast exams because that’s what you’re told to do. A few months ago I noticed something odd about my nipple. I kept and eye on the issue and it seemed to never get better so I made a mental note to let my OBGYN know on my next visit. When I got to my appointment I actually debated telling my doctor. I was worried he would think I was weird for looking at my breasts, or tell me it was not a big deal and I would feel like a n00b. Well, because my doctor is amazing he did not dismiss my issues. He sent me to a breast surgeon to have them take a look because as he said “that’s their bread and butter.”

Alrighty then.

I’ll save you all the details of my million doctor appointment but after 2 ultrasounds, 1 mammogram and several blood tests it’s been determined that I have a intraductal papilloma in my breast. Which is really a fancy term for a small tumor inside my milk duct. The good news is that I have a 85% chance of it being benign so I would say those odds are pretty awesome. Don’t get me wrong – the irrational part of my brain is telling me to freak out and that’s it’s cancer but luckily my rational side is keeping me calm.

So why did I tell you all about my lady bits? Half therapeutic rambling and half as a gentle reminder to practice a little bit of self care. It’s important to take care of yourself and you should never feel embarrassed to bring something up to your doctor. Had I ignored the little voice in my head my little issue could have turned into something much larger. And it should be noted that most breast cancers start in the milk ducts so it’s pretty serious business to not ignore things like this.

This is also a good time to remind all you ladies to take care of your ta-ta’s. Check them out and if you notice something strange or different don’t be afraid to tell your doctor. Trust me, they won’t laugh at you or call you crazy.

Now I wish I had some fancy segue into this cake but I’m all out of ideas. Instead I’ll just tell you all about it. It’s crazy easy to make (you mix it all up in just 1 bowl!) and is a huge crowd pleaser. I actually made this cake yesterday and took it to our neighbors for a little taste test. Well, there is none left so I guess everyone loved it! That’s actually a lie – I took a few pieces and put them in the freezer so I would have a treat for after my surgery. I’m always thinking ahead like that.

Plus surgery is a fabulous excuse to eat cake. Am I right?

If you’re worried this cake will just taste like vegetables don’t worry. It does not have an in your face zucchini flavor but instead it just subtly shines through. Plus I made it with white whole wheat flour so this baby is whole grain. That means there is 22% less guilt about eating it for breakfast.

Well, if you’re me.

Scratch that. I never feel guilty about eating cake for breakfast. I’m an adult damn it. If I want cake for breakfast I’ll eat cake for breakfast!

{Looking for more totally acceptable breakfast cakes? Try my pumpkin spice latte coffee cake, strawberry rhubarb coffee cake or my banana cinnamon streusel coffee cake.}

Zucchini Coffee Cake

This sweet zucchini coffee cake is perfect for breakfast or dessert. Filled with fresh finely shredded zucchini and cinnamon brown sugar flavor. Perfectly moist and ready in no time!

Yield: 9x13 pan

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 45 minutes

Total Time: 55 minutes


For cinnamon sugar topping:

  • 1 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup white whole wheat flour
  • 1 teaspoon apple pie spice
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature

For cake: 

  • 1-1/3 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup melted butter
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon apple pie spice
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2-1/2 cups white whole wheat flour
  • 1-1/2 cups finely shredded zucchini, water squeezed out

Slightly adapted from Pinch of Yum


For cinnamon sugar topping:
In a medium sized mixing bowl add all ingredients and using a pasty blender blend together the mixture until it appears sandy in texture, set aside.

For cake:
Preheat oven to 325 and spray a 9x13 pan with non-stick spray.

In a large bowl add in all ingredients (except the cinnamon sugar topping) and stir to combine.

Pour half the batter into the pan, spread out and top with 1/2 of the cinnamon sugar mixture. Pour the remaining batter on top, gently spread to coat and use the remaining cinnamon sugar mixture to cover the top.

Bake for about 45 minutes until the cake is fully cooked and gently springs back when touched.

Note: If desired you can use vegetable oil instead of butter, vanilla extract in place of vanilla bean paste and white flour instead of white whole wheat flour.