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Courgette, lemon and pistachio cake

Diana Henry / 17 June 2014

This is based on a recipe by Harry Eastwood. I tried it in a café in Sussex and couldn’t guess the secret ingredient. It isn’t just healthier, it’s one of the most delicious cakes ever.

Courgette, lemon and pistachio cake
Diana Henry's courgette, lemon and pistachio cake. Photograph by Laura Edwards, food styling by Joss Herd.

Cooking time

45-50 minutes


  • 100g (3¾oz) pistachios
  • 300g (10½oz) courgettes 
  • 3 medium eggs
  • 200g (7oz) golden caster sugar
  • 225g (8oz) plain white flour
  • Finely grated zest of 2 lemons
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp bicarbonate of soda

To decorate

  • 125g (4½oz) icing sugar, sifted
  • 3 tbsp lemon juice
  • A fleck of pistachio green food colouring paste (optional) 
  • Roughly chopped pistachios


Preheat the oven to 180C, 350F, gas 4.

Put 100g (3¾oz) pistachios into a coffee grinder and blitz them to a powder. If you don’t have a coffee grinder, you can use a food processor; it just won’t grind them as finely.

Trim the courgettes’ ends and grate them finely.

Beat the eggs and sugar in an electric mixer until pale, light and creamy. (If you don’t have one, a wooden spoon and mixing bowl are fine.) Fold in the courgettes, ground pistachios, flour, lemon zest, baking powder and bicarbonate of soda. Combine everything, scooping up the mixture from the bottom of the bowl, but be careful not to over-mix.

Put into a 20cm (8in) cake tin that you’ve buttered and base-lined with greaseproof paper. Bake for 45-50 minutes. The cake is cooked when a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean.

Leave to cool in the tin for 10 minutes then turn the cake out onto a wire rack, carefully peel off the paper and turn the cake the right way up. Leave to cool completely.

To make the icing, simply mix the icing sugar with the lemon juice until it’s smooth. Add the colouring paste if you are using it – you need just a little on the tip of a knife. I like to put the icing mixture in the fridge for a short while to let it firm up, before spreading it over the cake with a small palette knife. Leave to set a little, then sprinkle with the chopped pistachios.


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The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated. The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.