Scarpaccia di Viareggio (Zucchini Cake)

Scarpaccia is a zucchini cake from the northern coast of Tuscany. There are two versions: savory from the town of Camaiore, and sweet from Viareggio. I had already prepared and blogged about the savory version, so now it’s time for the sweet one. The texture is a bit like a custard and this reminded me of a French clafoutis. Scarpaccia means “ugly shoe” and refers to the shape, which is rather thin (about 1 cm or half an inch thick). In the photo above you can appreciate why it is called that, although you could make it look pretty with a bit of icing sugar and a garnish of some basil leaves. More important: it is delicious, and easy to prepare. This can be served for breakfast, with tea or coffee, or as a dessert. Compared to most recipes I have reduced the sugar somewhat (from 300 grams to 250 grams, 1 1/2 cups to 1 1/4 cups) and I think it is sweet enough this way.

Ingredients

For a 38 cm by 32 cm (15 by 13 inch) baking sheet, serves 12 to 16 (recipe can be halved for a smaller version in an oven dish)

1 kilo (2.2 lbs) zucchini

300 grams (2 cups) flour

6 eggs

250 grams (1 1/4 cups) sugar

100 grams (scant 1/2 cup) extra virgin olive oil + more for drizzling

120 grams (1/2 cup) milk

1 tsp vanilla extract, or the inside of 1 vanilla bean

salt

12 fresh basil leaves

Instructions

Slice the zucchini thinly, or use a spiralizer…

…and then chop roughly.

Place the zucchini in a colander and sprinkle with salt, mixing well. Allow the salt to draw out some of the water while you prepare the batter.

Preheat the oven to 190C/375F.

Combine the sugar and eggs in a large bowl.

Whisk until the sugar has dissolved.

Add the extra virgin olive oil, milk, and vanilla extract, and whisk until incorporated.

(If using a vanilla bean, scrape the seeds out and add the seeds to the batter. Store the bean in a sugar jar to create vanilla-scented sugar for another use.)

Add the sifted flour.

Stir in the flour. Use a spoon first, as in the initial phase the flour would get stuck in the whisk.

Once you can see no more flour but there are still lumps, switch back to the whisk and keep going until there are no more lumps.

Squeeze water out of the zucchini with an old (but clean) tea towel.

Add the zucchini to the batter, and stir to incorporate.

Stack the basil leaves on top of each other and slice with a sharp knife. (Do not chop, as that would bruise the basil.) Add the basil to the batter and stir to incorporate.

Line a 38 by 32 cm (15 by 13 inch) baking sheet with oven paper; folding up the sides.

Pour the batter onto the oven paper, and level it with a spatula.

Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil in a zigzag pattern.

Bake the scarpaccia at 190C/375F until it is golden brown, 30 to 40 minutes. If it inflates, pierce the bubble with a knife.

Serve at room temperature.

Wine pairing

As this is from Tuscany and not super sweet, a great choice is a Vin Santo.

Flashback

Baked cod, potatoes, and tomatoes is a simple but very tasty dish.

3 thoughts on “Scarpaccia di Viareggio (Zucchini Cake)

  1. Two recipes for me as I seem to have missed the savoury offering. Great as I love zucchini and a spiralizer is always at the ready ! Am not even ‘complaining’ about the sugar as a fair amount of one of my very favourite vegetables is being used. Looks appetizing and I actually love its thinness . . .

    Liked by 1 person

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