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Eat your cake; it's good for you

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I don't bake traditional cakes because of my fear of layers: too much architecture for this gal. The cake below, though, is a one-piece bundt baby, without any icing to worry about. With the addition of zucchini, this cake takes a walk on the simpler, earthier side. See if you agree with me on the use of extra virgin olive oil instead of plain old vegetable oil. I love the rich fruitiness it imparts, not to mention the addition of its heart-healthy fats.

There's no way finicky eaters will be able to tell they're getting a serving of vegetables in their after-school snack, so let it be our little secret. One more thing: This not-too-sweet cake rocks for breakfast.

Mimi Montano's Chocolate Zucchini Cake

Adapted from "Death by Chocolate Cakes" by Marcel Desaulniers

3 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
11/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoons salt
1 large zucchini (or about 1 lb.)
11/2 cups sugar
4 large eggs
11/2 cups vegetable or extra-virgin olive oil
3 oz unsweetened baking chocolate
1-2 cups semisweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Smear the bottom and sides of a nonstick angel food cake pan or a bundt pan with soft butter. In a large bowl, add the flour, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda and salt, and with a wooden spoon, stir to combine. Grate the zucchini. Set aside.

Beat sugar and eggs with an electric 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.

In a double boiler or in the microwave, melt baking chocolate and add to wet ingredients. With a rubber spatula, gradually add dry ingredients. Add grated zucchini and mix until incorporated. Add chocolate chips and stir again. Pour batter into prepared pan and spread evenly.

Place pan on a baking sheet and bake until a skewer comes out clean in the middle, about one hour. If using a bundt pan, let cool for about one hour before inverting. Freezes well.

Kim O'Donnel, the host of What's Cooking on washingtonpost.com, tests all the recipes so you don't have to. Send questions and comments to kim.odonnel@creativeloafing.com.

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