A sumptuous and even healthy Cucumber Cake with the scent of cardamom and made with whole wheat and coconut sugar. A low-fat, vegan, soy-free recipe.
It's sweltering here in the northeast, and in most of the country. But nothing reminds you better than a cucumber (or a water melon) that summer is the best time of year to be a veggie lover.
I've been slicing them into pitchers of water, chopping them up into salads and raitas, and just cutting them into spears and eating them with a dash of salt and cayenne rubbed into their centers, the way they are sold by street vendors in Bombay.
I grow my own cucumbers most summers, but this year is not one of those -- seeds I planted simply didn't take off, for some reason. But the markets are overflowing with these delicious green veggies, and I was dying to make a cucumber cake.
In the India I grew up in, ovens were a rarity and cakes were a treat strictly bought from the bakery. The only people I knew who had an actual oven were my cousins, whose father, my uncle, insisted they get degrees in home science because he didn't think they were good for anything more than learning to cook and keep house so they could find decent husbands (they were -- one of them is a professor now).
Another kind of "oven" some adventurous cooks had was an aluminum contraption that looked like a tube pan with a lid. In the bottom was a compartment that held sand. The "oven" was placed on a stove and the flame heated the sand which in turn baked the cake.
My mom had one of those contraptions, and she would sometimes bake this cucumber cake, called Tausali, in it.
Tausali is a rather spare yet sumptuous cake from India's Konkan region-- my dad's native land. It contains the classic triumvirate of homemade Indian sweets: jaggery (an unrefined Indian sugar not unlike piloncillo), coconut, and cardamom. It is usually made with rice flour and semolina or sooji farina, sometimes ghee, and -- of course-- cucumber. There are no leaveners here, like baking soda or baking powder.
The ingredients are all mixed up and baked in that little stovetop oven. The resulting cake is dense but tender and incredibly flavorful.
My Lowfat Cucumber Cake is not Tausali-- I adapted it to make it more cake-like than Tausali by using flour instead of semolina, and I did add some baking soda and baking powder to help the cake rise. I used coconut sugar as a natural sweetener, and I used coconut milk instead of fresh coconut, just for a smoother texture. I also used coconut oil instead of ghee.
To stay true to the fresh-from-the-tube-pan look of a Tausali, but to make it prettier, I baked my Cucumber Cake in a bundt pan.
The cake is delicious. The coconut sugar gives it a deep richness, and the cardamom is just perfect with the cucumber.
This is also a very healthy cake. There is very little fat in the recipe, and it incorporates brown rice flour and whole-wheat flour -- and, of course, a veggie.
And yes, it all sounds too good but it's also true. Not too many things you can say that about.
Did you say this cucumber cake is naturally sweetened and low in fat -- and healthy?
Yes, traditionally this cake is made with jaggery, which is an unrefined and rather good-for-you sugar. But since not everyone has access to jaggery here in the United States, I made my cake with coconut sugar, which is also unrefined and has a flavor that's close to jaggery.
You can always use regular brown sugar, if you can't find coconut sugar either, or white sugar with a tablespoonful of molasses.
And there's just ¼ cup of coconut oil in this cucumber cake, which makes it very, very low in fat compared to other cakes, and since coconut fat has some healthful properties of its own, the oil enhances the healthfulness.
A slice of the cake has only 165 calories, which is amazing. You may not want to stop at a slice, though.
Looking for more vegan cake recipes?
Vegan Zucchini Bread
Gluten Free Vegan Skillet Cornbread Cake
Vegan Strawberry Bread
Vegan Carrot Bundt Cake with Cashew Cream Cheese Frosting
Vegan Banana Coffee Cake with Chocolate Streusel
Vegan Lemon Blueberry Cake with Lemon Blueberry Topping
Cucumber Cake Recipe
Vegan | Wholegrain | Low-fat | Soy-free
- Standard bundt pan (12 cups)
- 2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
- 1 cup rice flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoon powdered cardamom
- ¾ cup cashews (lightly toasted)
- 2 cups coconut sugar (or very finely grated jaggery)
- 3 tablespoon flaxmeal (whisked together with 9 tablespoon water)
- ½ cup applesauce
- ½ cup coconut milk
- 4 tablespoon coconut oil
- 2 cucumbers (approx. 2 ½ cups, grated. English cucumbers, with very tiny seeds, are the easiest to use here, but if you use another kind with large seeds, be sure to deseed first)
- Whisk all of the dry ingredients together in a bowl.
- In a large bowl, mix all of the wet ingredients.
- Add the dry ingredients to the wet and mix until everything comes together. Pour the batter into a bundt pan and smooth the top.
- Bake in a preheated 350-degree oven for 45 minutes or until a toothpick in the center comes out clean.
- Unmold 10 minutes after removing from the oven. Cool thoroughly on a rack, then slice and enjoy!
This recipe is quite worthy of your blog's name. One bite and I exclaimed "Holy cow, this is good!" having not even remembered the blog name. I had no idea what to expect since the batter didn't smell particularly amazing, but once it started cooking, the smell got me excited!
I had to make several substitutions due to needing a gluten free recipe, as well as things I keep on hand in the kitchen, AND I made them as 22 muffins (unfrosted cupcakes, I guess) since I don't have a bundt pan. Here are the substitutions I made:
Tigernut flour in place of the whole wheat pastry flour, Bob's Red Mill Gluten-Free 1-to-1 Baking Mix for the rice flour (it is rice flour based), Miss Jone's SMARTSUGAR coconut sugar blend, Bob's Red Mill Vegan Egg Replacer in place of the "flax eggs" (it gives much better structure than flax eggs, especially in gluten-free baking), light coconut milk (still canned, not the beverage). For the cardamom, I had pods, so I opened them into the coconut milk and heated it to extract the flavor like a tea, then strained the seeds out before using the milk, and I added a teaspoon of cinnamon bc I was quite sure the cardamom flavor I'd created wouldn't be strong enough.
They turned out truly fabulous and I will definitely make them again! Since we aren't big on sugar, though, I plan to test it with replacing 1/2 cup of the SMARTSUGAR coconut sugar blend with 1/4 of coconut flour so that it won't be quite as sweet. Since coconut flour is so absorbent, I'm confident just 1/4 cup + 1 1/2 cups sugar will work.
🙂 Hi Kate, So happy you enjoyed the cucumber cake. One of my favorites too! And thanks for taking the time to share the substitutions you made--great ideas and info.
What a find! We were on cucumber overload in the garden this year, so I was desperate to find a cake recipe to accommodate all the extras. I love cardamom and finding this recipe was such a gift. The cucumber made it moist for days and the taste was heavenly. I drizzled it with a light frosting flavored with cardamom and ginger, which added just enough extra sweet without being too over the top. Thank you so much!
I had an explosion of cucumbers in the garden this year; but had no idea what to do with all of them since they are so perishable. I happened upon this recipe, which is simply dynamite. I didn’t have any coconut oil; so used regular vegetable oil. The result was a wonderfully moist cake with the delightfully subtle taste of cardamom throughout. I cheated the vegans a bit (apologies) by drizzling a light cream cheese frosting over the bunt cake, flavored with cardamom and ginger.. Yummy.
I hust found your site when I googled "green tomato" and a dal recipe and green tomato stew recipe showed up. Great, useful, and tasty recipes! Is there any way that you can add a keyword search feature to your website because there are so many recipes! I want to find specific ingredients, which would be so helpful with a search feature. Thanks!
I joined your blog a few days ago and I already like your recipes. This cucumber cake looks and sounds fantastic and I look forward to making it. I love using "ghor" (jaggery) in cooking, and even eating a little piece by itself once in a while!
By the way, the additional family history and explanation about ovens, or lack thereof, was very special and really makes your blog special.
WOW first time saw a Cucumber Cake recipe instead of Whole wheat flour can I use Rajgira/Amaranth flour +Rava ,I have not baked much n never Cakes?so little nervous but want to try this one,its so right n light for Mumbai Weather...Thank you fir this Recipe??
Hi Manisha, you can try it with amaranth flour, but I can't vouch that your cake will hold together in the absence of gluten. If you do, try baking it in a regular cake pan instead of a bundt, which might make unmolding easier.
Thank you so whole wheat is needed n Rava in place of Rice flour I read other comments n your answers too...TY?
We dont get brown rice powder here. can i use white rice flour or any substitute to this
White rice flour is fine!
I love your site, found while seeking inspiration for our next Vegan Baking Club, with the theme Asian Flavours. For the cucumber cake, please could you clarify what you mean by grated coconut. In the UK we bake with something called dessicated coconut which is finely grated, much less than half a grain of rice in size, quite a dry ingredient but probably soaks up moisture in the recipe. Should I be grating fresh coconut in which case, how fine. Would it matter if I omitted coconut altogether and if so what should I substitute for it. I have concerns about captive monkeys being used to pick the nuts and now try not to use it if possible. I am also going to make Gulab Jamin, can't wait.
Hi Kate, Here in the U.S. I buy unsweetened coconut in the supermarket or at the Indian grocery store, but you can certainly grate your own. You can also just try using dessicated coconut-- there's a lot of moisture in the recipe because of the cucumbers so it probably wouldn't greatly affect the texture. I wouldn't omit it because it would change the flavor.
Great, thank you I'll use dessicated coconut.
Do I need to peel the cucumber, I have made cakes with unpeeled courgettes before and they seemed fine. What do you recommend please.
No need to peel! I never do. 🙂
I made your cake tonight. Turned out great! I subbed some cinnamon and ginger for part of the cardamom, and I added a vegan cream cheese/coconut milk frosting. Love the subtle taste of the cucumber. Thanks for the unique recipe. I really needed to use up some cucumbers from the garden, so this helped a bit.
So great to hear!