I’m guessing that people are sadder that The Market in Larimer Square is gone than that the weight its famed Spring Fling Cake may have put on their hips is not.
What a cake. Dana Crawford, The Market’s founder and first owner, remembers it as “totally delicious,” she wrote in an email. “Thick, looking almost like angel food,” its fruits “colorful and generous.”
The Spring Fling begins as an egg, sugar and flour batter substantiated with shredded zucchini, and ends in flourishes of flung spring fruits such as strawberries. But use whatever fruits strike your fancy, “spring” always being somewhere on a globe easily accommodated to airplane holds, hence grocers.
A reluctant and fitful baker tested this recipe, which first appeared hereabouts in 2006 in the also sadly departed Rocky Mountain News, at the behest of his editors at The Denver Post. Bless it, it works. Deliciously.
The Market’s owner, Mark Greenberg, fashioned this recipe for the home cook, so it calls for an everyday 10-inch cake round, although I did read online that others profitably have used muffin tins (“fill 3/4 full”), sheet pans, and scalloped ceramic for the same recipe.
The measurements and timing are for Denver’s elevation, 5,280 feet. Those living and baking higher or lower will require a consult with Chef Google.
The reluctant and fitful baker removed the tins (he made two, in case one flopped; and one flopped) from the oven when the long toothpick came out clean, at precisely 65 minutes.
Also, I partially peeled the zucchini and shredded them by hand on the large holes of a box grater, and did not use the food processor as the recipe suggests. (Two medium zukes equal about 2 1/2 cups shredded.)
Spring Fling Cake
From The Market, Larimer Square, recipe as published in the Rocky Mountain News, May 10, 2006. Serves 12-14.
For the cake:
- 2 1/2 cups shredded zucchini
- 1 1/4 cups sugar
- 1/4 cup vegetable oil
- 1 cup sour cream
- 1/2 tablespoon plus 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract (for frosting)
- 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- Pinch of salt
For the frosting:
- 3/4 cup cream cheese
- 1/4 cup butter
- 2 cups powdered sugar
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
Fruit for the cake:
- 1 pint strawberries, cleaned, stemmed and sliced
- 4 kiwi fruit, peeled and sliced
- 2 mangoes, peeled and sliced
- 1 pint blueberries
- Apricot glaze, or apricot jelly thinned out with a bit of warm water, optional
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a 10-inch cake pan.
To prepare the cake: Shred the zucchini in a food processor (or with a box grater). In a large mixing bowl, combine shredded zucchini, eggs, sugar, oil, sour cream and 1/2 tablespoon vanilla. When thoroughly mixed, combine all dry ingredients and add to bowl; mix well. Batter should be fairly wet and easy to pour.
Pour in the batter and bake for 50 to 70 minutes, testing with a toothpick in center. Cool finished cake on a rack for 10 minutes, then remove it from the pan and allow it to cool completely. (You can make the cake a day ahead and refrigerate.)
To prepare frosting, whip room-temperature cream cheese and butter until smooth. Gradually add the powdered sugar, mixing until well combined. In a separate bowl, whip the cream until stiff, and then fold it and the 1/2 teaspoon vanilla into the frosting. Do not overmix.
To assemble cake: Cut the cooled cake in half lengthwise, making two layers. (The Market cuts the cake into three layers, which you may do if desired.) Spread an even layer of frosting over the first layer, and then add a layer of the various fruit pieces (repeat if three layers).
Put on the top layer of cake and evenly frost. The sides of the cake are not frosted; use extra to fill in, as needed. Arrange the fruit in circles all over the top of cake, slightly overlapping fruit pieces.
To finish: Spread the apricot glaze over fruit on top of the cake with a pastry brush.
Nutritional information per serving: 496 cal., 20 g fat (10 g sat.), 116 mg chol., 73 g carb., 597 mg sodium, 4 g fiber, 9 g protein
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