Scarpaccia viareggina - Italian courgette cake

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This simple Italian courgette cake recipe may sound a little unusual at first, but this sweet, moist bake is fantastically more-ish.

First published in 2016
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Scarpaccia viareggina is a traditional cake from the little seaside town of Viareggio, in Tuscany. The term scarpaccia literally means 'old, ugly shoe' and its name is very likely due to the fact that this cake has the same thickness of an old shoe sole! Don’t worry though… it doesn’t taste like one!

This courgette cake is not too sweet and it is moist and soft thanks to the thinly sliced courgettes that enrich a simple batter made of flour, eggs, milk, sugar and extra virgin olive oil. The addition of a few leaves of fresh basil makes this cake even more aromatic and perfect for summer.

Scarpaccia was traditionally baked during courgette season by old sailors using the vegetables of their garden, but nowadays you can eat it all year round in Viareggio. It is a very unusual dessert in Italy, where courgettes are not usually used for baking cakes, and it tastes delicious!




Scarpaccia viareggina

  • 520g of courgette, thinly sliced
  • 2 eggs
  • 460g of plain flour
  • 200ml of milk
  • 250g of granulated sugar
  • 4 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 vanilla pod, seeds only
  • 5 basil leaves
  • 1 pinch of salt
  • icing sugar, for dusting


Preheat the oven to 170°C/gas mark 5
Put the thinly sliced courgettes on a kitchen towel and season with a pinch of salt. Leave them aside for about one hour to lose a bit of their liquid that could make the cake too wet
Whisk the eggs with the sugar, extra virgin olive oil, milk, flour and vanilla seeds. Gently add the courgettes and basil leaves
Grease a 25x40cm baking tin with extra virgin olive oil and scoop the batter inside
Bake in a preheated oven for about 45–50 minutes or until golden. Let the scarpaccia cool down, then cut it into scares and serve dusted with icing sugar
First published in 2016

Manuela is an Italian native who currently resides in Australia. She is the author of Manu’s Menu, a food blog about traditional Italian cuisine that she started in 2011. Her blog is one of the top food blogs in Australia.

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