Friday, 28 February 2014

Alphabakes Roundup - Z

It’s the penultimate Alphabakes roundup – for this journey through the alphabet at least! It’s strange that we had to wait until almost the end- over two years – for the dreaded z to come up! There is only one letter we haven’t yet had, which some of you may have already worked out, but I won’t spoil it for the rest of you – you’ll just have to visit Ros at The MoreThan Occasional Baker on March 1st to find out!

So let’s see what you all came up with beginning with the letter z. I had thought of zucchini (the American word for courgette), and zebra cake, and zabaglione – but ‘zest’ had never occurred to me until I saw a citrus entry – so there are lots more ideas than you might first think!

My mum Jacqueline had been saving an idea up and getting quite impatient for z to come around, so unsurprisingly she was first off the mark with this zucchini cake – it uses grated courgette and has a cream cheese icing. I haven’t ever had courgette cake before but I imagine you can’t particularly taste the vegetable!

Kate, aka the Gluten Free Alchemist, was very clever and thought of zest, and made this zesty drizzled lemon cake with roasted strawberry cream cheese frosting. It’s baked in the shape of a heart and beautifully decorated for Valentine’s day, and also gluten free.

Jean at Baking in Franglais also hit upon the idea of zest, and her entry this month is a zesty orange and poppy seed cake. I keep meaning to bake with poppy seeds and this cake looks fantastic. It also happens to be gluten free!

Marble cakes that mix vanilla and chocolate batter to give a striped effect when the cake is cooked are also known as zebra cakes – I was wondering if anyone would know that and enter one this month. Choclette from Chocolate Log Blog has actually come across that idea in biscuit form, and sent us these zebra biscuits, using white chocolate and dark chocolate. Choclette said they weren’t as much effort to make as she had expected, which is always good!

We’re back to zucchini – there really are a limited number of ingredients beginning with z! This courgette and chamomile cake from Jen at Blue Kitchen Bakes was made for a Clandestine Cake Club, and it’s a healthier cake than some – there is no butter and the courgette is one of your five a day.. not sure that’s still the case when it’s baked into a cake, but that’s good enough for me!

Ros of The More Than Occasional Baker and my co-host for Alphabakes, was away for most of this month but still found the time for some baking! She made this chocolate and raspberry zebra cake; the stripes came out perfectly and the baking tin she used lets you cut slices that come out heart-shaped – perfect for Valentine’s day!

We have another zebra cake – this time from Olivia of Liv A Little Bakery. Hers is covered in a thick chocolate frosting and decorated with maltesers – it looks delicious and again the stripes are very neat!

These fudgy brownies with peanut butter frosting are deceptive as they are actually quite healthy…. They contain zucchini, apple sauce and flaxseed! They also happen to be vegan so I am definitely bookmarking them to make for a friend – thanks to Jenny at What Jenny Baked for these!

I thought I had done really well at coming up with a very unusual ingredient but Suelle from Mainly Baking beat me to it! Za’atar is a Middle Eastern spice blend and Suelle has used it in these cheese scones. She says the za’atar has a fairly bitter flavour and the flavour overwhelmed the cheese; nonetheless I think these are a great idea.

Ness at Jibber Jabber has started making more traybakes since her son started nursery as they are quick to cook, and she has made this zebra chocolate and vanilla traybake for Alphabakes. It looks like a nice simple recipe but the distinctive stripes would definitely be a hit with children!

Here’s my za’atar recipe, which I made into bread rolls for lunch one day with soup. I mixed the spice with olive oil and spread it over the bread dough, which I then sliced and rolled up. I’d never heard of za’atar before but came across it on another blog and bookmarked it for when Z came up!

I also made this Tuscan soup, from a recipe that went by the Italian name of Zuppa Toscana, so I think that counts! It contains Italian sausage (though I could only get Sicilian) and sliced potatoes and went really well with the za’atar bread.

I was hoping someone would go for a novelty cake this month and use the letter z for zombies… and that’s exactly what Kim at Cakes from Kim did! She made this graveyard cake complete with zombies for a Clandestine Cake Club at Halloween and has only just gotten around to blogging it – I’m really glad she was able to put it on her blog this month and share it with Alphabakes! 

This gluten free lemon drizzle tray bake from Laura of I’d Much Rather Bake Than is just exploding with zesty lemon and her housemate’s mum said it was the best lemon drizzle she had ever tasted- so if you fancy making one I suggest you bookmark this recipe!

Stuart at Cakeyboi starts off by describing this zabaglione as a disaster – but then says it did taste nice, which is the main thing, surely? He had frozen leftover egg yolks which were quite rubbery when defrosted and made more like a thick custard – which still sounds ok to me! Also, Stuart is running 10k in aid of Sport Relief and you can sponsor him via his site.

While researching z recipes for Alphabakes I came across zeppole, but wasn’t sure I had the nerve to try making them! So I’m really pleased to see that Alexandra, the Lass in the Apron, has come up trumps. She made these lime and rosemary zeppole, delicate puffy doughnuts from Italy and I think has done a wonderful job.


Finally my sister Clare made these zesty zebra cakes – lemon cupcakes with lemon zest in both the cake and the icing, presented in these cute zebra cupcake cases.

Fiona at Sweet Thing You Make My Heart Sing tells me that she often goes to Brno in the Czech Republic for work, and her host’s wife likes to make cakes. She once made a zucchini cake that Fiona decided to recreate as she really enjoyed it; she added some lemon for a contrasting zing and was pleased with the result.

Finally our dessert table this month is rounded off with these lemon velvet squares from Grace Phua, where the z stands for lemon zest and orange zest. Grace suggests you might want to top this cake with some lemon curd or lemon glaze, which sounds lovely.

So that’s your lot for this month – we didn’t have as many entries as we sometimes do, though I think 19 is still a pretty decent showing with a letter as difficult as z! Head over to The More Than Occasional Baker tomorrow to find out which is the only letter of the alphabet left that we haven’t done yet!


  1. lots of unusual "z"s.

  2. 19 is definitely a darn good number of entries for such a tricky letter! It's great to discover some unusual recipes too - great roundup!

  3. Great selection of Z recipes, glad it's not all zebra and zucchini!

  4. Haha, fabulous. There are always surprises with Alpha Bakes and I certainly hadn't thought of Zataar - great round up.


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