I’m not going to lie, I was sceptical when I first saw this recipe for courgette cake with cream cheese in Nigella Lawson’s How To Be A Domestic Goddess cookbook, for a few different reasons. Firstly, I sort of struggled with the idea that with the relatively large amount of courgettes, this recipe was going to deliver a sweet cake (though, as the book explains, nobody questions the amount of carrots in a carrot cake). Secondly, I couldn’t discover any butter in this recipe, neither for the sponge nor the frosting, something very difficult to wrap my head around. Finally, being completely honest, the image of the finished product didn’t look very appetising.

So you might wonder why I decided to give it a go after all. Well, I love courgette and the idea I might discover yet another way to use this vegetable was an exciting thought. Besides, I am a huge Nigella fan and it’s her unconventional yet somehow fool-proof techniques and use of ingredients I often praise her for, so I figured this instance shouldn’t be any different. The pistachio topping kind of helped too (I have previously shared with you my love for pistachios).

I was so pleasantly surprised with the result, a gorgeous, delicious and light cake that I’m pretty sure will become a regular bake in my kitchen, so I decided I had to share it with you.

Nigella’s version includes a lime curd, but I didn’t like the sound of that, so I decided to fill mine with some extra cream cheese frosting. I increased the quantity of frosting slightly in the recipe below to accommodate for this, though definitely not doubled as I know frosting can be overpowering. I also made some amendments to the quantities of the ingredients for the sponge. Other than that this version is very similar to the one in Nigella’s book (though I should mention that the original source of her recipe is listed as Flora Woods from Books for Cooks).


Courgette Cake Recipe

  • Author: Michiel Steur
  • Prep Time: 25 minutes
  • Cook Time: 30 minutes
  • Total Time: 55 minutes
  • Yield: 8 1x


The use of courgette makes a wonderful alternative on a classic carrot cake recipe. Try this courgette cake with cream cheese frosting recipe!



  • 265g courgettes (1 large or 2 small)
  • 2 medium eggs
  • 125ml sunflower oil
  • 150g granulated sugar
  • 225g plain flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 250g cream cheese
  • 120g icing sugar
  • 3 tablespoons pistachios


  1. Preheat oven to 180°C.
  2. Weigh the courgette(s) prior to grating, you need 265g for this recipe. Grate them with a four-sided box grater, on the side that gives you the roughest grate.
  3. Leave the grated courgette in a colander, squeeze and press every now and then to drain as much excess liquid as possible.
  4. Mix eggs, oil and sugar until creamy. Add flour, baking soda and baking powder and mix until fully incorporated.
  5. Stir in the grated courgette until well-mixed.
  6. Divide the cake batter between the two cake tins. Bake in the preheated oven for approximately 30 minutes, until a skewer comes out clean and the cakes have developed a golden-brown colour on top.
  7. Take cakes out of the oven, leave in the springform cake tins for 10 minutes before transferring to wire racks. Leave cake to cool completely.
  8. Meanwhile, prepare the cream cheese frosting. Mix cream cheese until light and creamy. Add icing sugar a tablespoon at a time, waiting until fully incorporated before adding the next one.
  9. Roughly chop the pistachios by hand or in a mini chopper.
  10. Once the cakes have cooled completely, take one cake and cover the top with one third of the cream cheese frosting. Layer the second cake on top, press gently, and cover with the rest of the cream cheese.
  11. Sprinkle with the chopped pistachios. Leave the cake in the fridge for a little while until the cream cheese frosting has hardened slightly before serving.


This recipe requires two 20cm non-stick springform cake tins

  • Category: Dessert
  • Method: Oven
  • Cuisine: American


  • Calories: 510
  • Sugar: 17g
  • Sodium: 369mg
  • Fat: 18g
  • Saturated Fat: 7g
  • Unsaturated Fat: 7g
  • Trans Fat: 0g
  • Carbohydrates: 39g
  • Fiber: 2g
  • Protein: 7g
  • Cholesterol: 78mg

Keywords: courgette cake, carrot cake alternative, nigella lawson courgette cake, courgette cake nigella, courgette cake with buttercream icing

Grating courgette using a golden four-sided box grater

Recipe for courgette cake with cream cheese frosting and pistachios


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