Cucumber-Lemon Cake

with Cucumber Vodka Icing

June 14: National Cucumber Day

With the summer season a few days away, we have been feeling the heat already in the Gulf Coast of Texas. To stay “Cool as a Cucumber,” this month’s theme of Islander’s local culinary book club, members were asked to share recipes using the vegetable as an ingredient. Some brought in cucumber tea sandwiches, many salads and even cucumber-infused drinks. Islander brought in a dessert—a cucumber-lemon cake with cucumber vodka icing (the original recipe used gin but she wanted to maximize the cucumber theme). The cake concept was a refreshing idea—a subtle taste of summer’s quintessential vegetable with a hint of sunny citrus iced with a sweet buttercream made with cucumber vodka to balance all the flavors. Cucumber-lemon cake with cucumber vodka icing is a delicate dessert that is perfect for National Cucumber Day.

Recipe

(Adapted from Veggie Desserts)

For the cucumber-lemon cake

  • Half a cucumber (about ¾ cups), pureed (see Notes)
  • Half a lemon, juiced and zested
  • 2/3 cup butter, softened
  • ¾ cup sugar, granulated white
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 ¾ cups flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder

Directions

Wash and dry the cucumber, leaving the clean skin on. Slice into thin cubes and puree in a blender.

Zest half a lemon and set aside the zest for the batter. Squeeze half the lemon juice into the pureed cucumber. In a mixing bowl, combine the zest with the butter and sugar.

Add the vanilla and the eggs. Beat until smooth. In a separate bowl, mix the flour with baking powder. Gradually add half of the dry ingredients to the butter mixture, alternating with half of the pureed cucumbers, and blend all ingredients until the batter is smooth.

Place in a lightly greased 8-inch round pan. Bake in a preheated oven at 325 degrees F for 35-40 minutes or until done. Remove from the oven and cool in the pan for about 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely. Prepare the cucumber vodka icing.

For the cucumber vodka icing and decorations

  • 2/3 cup butter, softened
  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • 2 tablespoons cucumber vodka
  • 1 lemon
  • cucumber slices

Directions

In a large mixing bowl, beat the butter until creamy. Gradually add the powdered sugar. Thin to a spreadable consistency with cucumber vodka. Smear a little frosting on a cake board or plate to “glue” the cake on it.

Use a spatula to frost the top and sides of the cake. Use a star tip to add a shell border around the cake. Use a large round tip to pipe a dollop of icing in the middle of the cake.

Use a sharp paring knife to peel the rind of a lemon—start from one end of the fruit and, in a continuous but careful motion, pare in one direction until reaching the end of the fruit. Immediately roll up tightly the peel, fanning out the edges a little to form a rosette. Place the lemon rose on the center of the dollop of icing.

With the reserved cucumber from the cake recipe above, cut a portion of the vegetable in half lengthwise. Slice the first cut thinly but do not go all the way through the cucumber. The second slice should detach from the vegetable. Fan it out like a fishtail. Slice 8 of these cucumber decorations, dry with a paper towel and arrange on the cake, attaching the non-cut tip to the dollop of icing. Refrigerate the cake but bring it to room temperature before serving.

Notes

  • We used a seedless English cucumber for this recipe. If using regular cucumbers, cut the cucumber in half lengthwise and scrape out the seeds.
  • For non-alcoholic icing, use cucumber water or lemon juice to thin out the buttercream frosting to a spreadable consistency.
  • Search our blog for other cucumber recipes.

Sunomomo

(Japanese Cucumber Salad)

June 14: National Cucumber Day

As the hot summer season starts soon, stay cool as a cucumber with a light Japanese-style salad called sunomomo. Many Asian countries have their own version of a vinegary cucumber side dish, like the Filipino suka pipino we made for National Vinegar Day on November 1. The ingredients have changed slightly by using the products from that particular country. This recipe has a little alcohol (mirin—a sweet rice wine—or sake—Japanese rice wine) added to it for a subtle sweetness in this side dish. Sunomomo tastes great with grilled meats (Japanese teriyaki steak, chicken and/or seafood are sensational for a summer BBQ) and on National Cucumber Day.

Recipe

(Adapted from Food.com)

 Ingredients

  • 1 large cucumber
  • 3 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon mirin or sake
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • ½ teaspoon salt (or to taste)
  • ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • pinch of dried mint or dried parsley (optional)

Directions

Wash and peel the cucumber. Cut into thin slices. Set aside. In a large bowl, mix the rice wine vinegar with the mirin or sake.

Stir in the sugar, water, salt and red pepper flakes. Toss in the cucumber. Sprinkle dried mint or parsley. Cover, refrigerate and allow the flavors to set for at least half an hour.

Notes

  • Try our teriyaki sauce and baste some steak, chicken, shrimp and salmon when grilling or barbecuing meats.
  • Bake teriyaki chicken as an alternative to grilling/barbecuing. Serve with sunomomo.