Olive Oil Zucchini Cake // Not Without Salt

Renee taught me how to like smoked trout, she opened my world to octopus and made me a preacher of the wonders of oysters. She did this slowly and without even knowing what she was doing.

She earned my trust at Boat Street, a beautifully casual yet elegant restaurant in Seattle. Year after year I would ask to go there for my birthday. I trusted her pickles, her pork made me a fan and her chicken liver mousse showed me that anything this woman makes is amazing.

So when The Walrus and The Carpenter opened with the premiss of esteeming the mighty oyster I knew I too had to get on board with these sea creatures that had always caused me such angst. Because if Renee says it’s good it has to be good. And she was and is right.

It was her book, A Boat, a Whale & a Walrus: Menus and Stories – with maybe just the exception of mine – that I’ve most anticipated this year and once again Renee has not let me down.

Olive Oil Zucchini Cake // Not Without Salt Olive Oil Zucchini Cake // Not Without Salt

I’ve had her food for so many years across all of her bustling restaurants so when the book arrived I feared it might fall in to the category of so many books penned by chefs; “well, that looks pretty but I’d never actually make that.” But hers is so not like that. It is inspired food done simply, with smart technique and the right ingredients – exactly how I like to cook.

This recipe shows off Renee’s style beautifully. I mean, have you ever seen the humble piece of zucchini bread on a dessert menu before? Most people wouldn’t dare but Renee does and somehow she always knows exactly what we want to eat and how we want to end the meal. She doesn’t just stop at a piece of zucchini bread. She slices it thick then toasts it in an ample supply of butter that has been browned until nutty in color and smell. While still warm it cozies up to generous billowy mounds of cremé fraiche and then – and this how I know Renee and I would make dear, dear friends – she tops it all with flaky salt. It’s the most beautiful and delicious taste of comfort.

Olive Oil Zucchini Cake // Not Without Salt Olive Oil Zucchini Cake // Not Without Salt

A few things to note before you run into the kitchen to start grating your zucchini. First of all I wanted to share this short little video that A & E Studios put together for their new web channel It’s part of their series, Inspired and I think it is serving it’s purpose well. I’ve watched all the episodes so far and have loved getting a glimpse into the lives of other creatives: What inspires them? What does their day look like? How did they get to where they are at? And what really is important to them?

Anyway, I’ll just go ahead and put this right here and if you have a moment to watch it I’d LOVE it.

The other thing I wanted to say is that my cookies are finding their way all over Seattle and the internet. Meaning, you have several options now as to where you need to get your cookie fix from. Here’s what we have so far:

Ballard Sip & Ship

The Pantry

Acme Farms + Kitchen

Bright Coffee (Monterey, CA)

250/flora (Bellingham, WA)


And of course you can still buy them here. Soon we’ll let you know about our holiday flavor! It’s real good. I made sure of that myself.


Olive Oil Zucchini Cake

recipe from A Boat, a Whale & a Walrus: Menus and Stories

This recipe is pretty much exactly as it appears in the book with the exception of two changes. I added salt to the batter and I used turbinado sugar (raw sugar) when she called for demerara sugar – which is more intensely flavor and what I would of used had I not just had turbinado on hand.

makes 1 9-by-5-inch loaf pan


3 cups grated zucchini (from 1 pound zucchini)

2 cups granulated sugar, divided

Unsalted butter, for the pan

2 cups (about 256 grams) all-purpose flour, sifted, plus more for the pan

1 teaspoon kosher salt

2 teaspoons ground ginger

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon finely grated nutmeg

3 large eggs

Grated zest from 2 large lemons

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 cup extra-virgin olive oil

2 tablespoons turbinado sugar

for serving:

Unsalted butter

Créme fraiche

Flaky sea salt, such as Maldon or Jacobsen


Preheat the oven to 350•F.

For the cake: In a mixing bowl, blend the zucchini with 1/4 cup of the granulated sugar. Transfer the mixture to a fine-mesh strainer and set the strainer over the mixing bowl. Fill another bowl, this one just big enough to fit inside the strainer, about halfway with water and carefully set the water bowl directly on top of the zucchini. (This presses the water out of the zucchini.)

Butter and flour a 9-by-5-inch loaf pan, and set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, ginger, baking powder, baking soda, and nutmeg.

In another bowl, whisk together the remaining 1 3/4 cups granulated sugar, eggs, lemon zest and vanilla until well blended. beat in the olive oil in three stages, whisking until it is thoroughly combined each time.

Gently fold the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients until no white spots remain. Working with a handful of zucchini at a time, use your hands to press and wring all excess moisture out of the zucchini. When all the zucchini has been pressed, add it to the batter, and stir it in gently until evenly distributed.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan and sprinkle the top evenly with the turbinado sugar. Bake on the middle rack of the oven for 70 to 75 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the center of the loaf comes out clean.

Cool the bread in the pan for about 20 minutes, then turn it out onto a cooling rack and let it cool completely.

To serve:

Cut the bread into 1-inch-thick slabs. Melt about 3 tablespoons of butter in a large skillet over medium heat. (Use the same amount of butter for however many pieces of bread will fit into the skillet at once.) When the butter is melted and foamy, add a few slices, and cook for a few minutes on each side, until warm and toasted. Serve the bread over a smear of créme fraiche, sprinkled with sea salt. Repeat with the remaining bread.

45 Responses to “Olive Oil Zucchini Bread”

  1. Kathleen

    I made this bread last week after getting her book at the Book Larder event. That’s where I first tasted the bread. (I adore W&C so much that I can barely make myself go to any other restaurant in Seattle, minus Delancey.) Oh, I loved it, but I also immediately resigned myself to not making it until next summer because I didn’t think I would have more zucchini until then. When our CSA box had a zucchini in it, I yelped! It was the perfect size, too- grated just 3 cups. From now on, ordinary zucchini bread will never do.

    I really enjoyed that video of you. There is a lot of love in your household. Super special.

  2. Dunja


    the video is awesome, I love it! I don’t know though if I can make Zucchini bread without chocolate. I just realized what salt is for you is chocolate for me. I think I need to rename my blog to “Not without chocolate”.

  3. Donna Timm

    Well, Ashley–this is just amazing! You gave us a little glimpse into your life. I love the way you show love to your family through good food, and then share that with us! My daughter Margey Timm Vattiat turned me on to your blog a couple of years ago and I’m hooked! She did study Foods and Nutrition at SPU and puts that degree to good use as an R.D. but also cooks marvelous meals for her family and we both use your recipes frequently. I do a bit of blogging at the health club where I work just a bit in Mt. Vernon and put recipes on the site. I get inspiration from you! Glad your cookies are going well:).

  4. Dini @ giramuks kitchen

    Love love LOVE the video! Your blog and your stories have inspired me, and definitely would inspire others too! I finally got the courage to let everything go and chase my passion and I turn to blogs like yours for that boost!
    We have so many zucchinis at home, and I can’t wait to try this recipe! My husband did not even eat zucchini until this year, so can’t wait to make him try this 🙂

  5. Sini | My Blue&White Kitchen

    And suddenly I feel like this is the only cake I need in my life… Looks utterly gorgeous and delicious! I also need to add that cookbook to my wish list. Sadly that video isn’t working here in Europe 🙁 Would have loved to see all you inspiring souls!

  6. Violet Threapleton

    Awe, your video is so sweet! You & your family are lovely. It’s hard to summon up the energy to make a homemade meal after a long day of class & studying, but your blog always inspires me to get off the internet & make something decadent. Nothing is better than a Not Without Salt meal after 5 hours of anatomy. Thank you for making me the envy of all my friends who are stuck on meal plans or eating ramen for every meal. They love when I make your spring chopped salad or swiss chard and caramelized onion tacos for them. Can’t wait to order my cookie mix!

  7. Broma Bakery

    Zucchini is one of my favorite foods and has been since I was a little kid! Naturally, I have a soft spot for zucchini bread. And any quick bread with oil is supremely moist and soft. I’m a fan!

  8. Lindsay

    Ashley, I love this video. It makes me want to sit and talk with you for a long, long time. With cookies. Thanks for being yourself and sharing inspiration!

  9. Kasey

    We had the BEST meal there last month, and I trust this bread is every bit as delicious as everything we had at the Walrus and the Carpenter. x

  10. Brian @ A Thought For Food

    I have no doubt that this book would be one of my favorites… going off to order it now. This is the kind of recipe that I would go crazy for. Something rustic but done a little different… more creatively.

    Congrats on the FYI video. It was so wonderful to watch that.

  11. Holly Erickson

    Sometimes I feel like my kids only eat once every three days. When they do, it’s zucchini bread. In fact, I currently have some zucchini bread batter in my refrigerator. Just waiting….maybe for dessert. I love this idea. And this book sounds amazing. Also congratulations on YOUR book. So fun to see it up on amazon. Can’t wait to read.

  12. Leah B.

    I miss being able to go to boat street for lovely lunches – so I think I need to grab this book to create my own in San Francisco! Loved the video, definitely feeling more inspired today to teach kids how to cook!

  13. Nicole

    Toasted and buttered! AH, this looks so good! The video is just wonderful, Ashley. You have such a sweet family 🙂

  14. Ramon M.

    that video was so sweet! You remind me so much of my mom. I grew up cooking with her in our kitchen and it was some of the best times, and it still is! Your kids will be so thankful for it one day, if they aren’t already 😉
    Side note – Zucchini bread looks delicious, running to the organic food market so I can make it today!

  15. Cheryl Vivian

    Olive is such a great addition and great recipe! Your pictures are beautiful too. I made a banana bread recipe with olive oil (by mistake) and it was the best mistake I’ve ever made!

  16. Grace

    Why I’ve never thought to toast my zucchini or banana bread, I’m not sure. And the sprinkle of sea salt.. mm!

  17. Julia

    I’m having trouble waiting the required 20 minutes for cooling! This loaf smells simply wonderful!!!!! The whole house smells like autumn. It’s a two-in-one night here for us – Olive Oil Zucchini bread,AND Pumpkin Graham Bread. Thank you for inspiring the perfect night in.

  18. Bec

    I LOVE zucchini loaf.. it’s so tasty, healthy and because you’re eating vegetable bread you can melt a huge chunk of butter on top. Lovely recipe 🙂

  19. Shawna

    And the book is ordered! So excited to turn this into my own “Julia & Julia”, though my boyfriend is probably more amped. Congratulations!

  20. Krys

    I love the look of this zucchini bread and yes – I have turbinado sugar on hand would you believe! I think that’s a definite sign I need to try to make this. Thanks for sharing!

  21. Gail

    Amazing taste and texture. My daughter made this in her little Brooklyn kitchen and shared it with our family in NY and NJ this weekend. So glad she made two loaves and shared it with all of us.

  22. Katie

    Great flavor, but are you sure it makes only one pan? I poured all the batter into one 9X5 pan and 25% of the batter baked over the pan, all over the bottom of my oven. I’m thinking maybe it’s suppose to be “Makes two loaves?” Looks like I’ll re-make it, because the flavor great, but I won’t be able to tomorrow because I’ll be cleaning out my oven. Yuck. :/


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