This zucchini kumquat cakes is one of the trio 100% whole-wheat teacake recipes in Tartine Book No.3. I have posted the other two: apple walnut and the banana teacake almost two years ago when I first got a copy of the book. These are my favorite teacake recipes; the health benefits of whole-grain baking need no convincing.
What set these teacakes apart? No doubt, it’s the use of 100% whole-wheat and high-extraction flours. More importantly it’s how these cakes overcome the unique challenge of dense crumb associated with having such a high percentage of whole-grain flours in the recipe. The entire kernel, bran and germs and all, are blended in the flours, which impede gluten development of the batter and the subsequent rise as it bakes. A special technique is used in Tartine Book No. 3: cut butter into the flours to create small pockets of air so that the finished cakes would take on a much lighter and more tender crumb structure. All three of these teacakes in the book, in my opinion, have succeeded in attaining the desirable soft and moist texture.
More than that, these recipes incorporate cultured dairy which heightens flavor. In the case of the zucchini kumquat cake, buttermilk is added. I also like the smart use of natural leaven. The cakes are not only flavorful, they can keep for a longer period.
Zucchini is usually a savory ingredient but used here as the key ingredient in the teacake. Just be sure all the water is squeezed out from the grated zucchini before incorporating it in the cake batter. Candied kumquats may sound exotic. (Fresh kumquats can easily be found in Asian market.) Cook them in a sugar syrup until softened. The candied kumquats have two functions: as a flavor component in the cake and as a garnish on top.
Kumquats go well with other citrus fruits. I added some leftover candied kumquats to an orange cake. It worked. In addition, their smaller shapes and the pleasing tang would offer attractive visual and flavor variety to any salad, sauce, jam or condiment. Making the candied kumquats can be a fun side project by itself, when you have the time for it.