Saturday, August 28, 2010
Zucchini bread has gotten a bad rap. I hope you will give it another chance. I have recently spoken to several friends who have unpleasant childhood memories of being fed all manner of foods into which grated zucchini had been surreptitiously added. Parents had good motives like adding nutrition and not wasting fresh vegetables. But some of the kids felt - well - betrayed.
If you are one of those people suffering from childhood zucchini PTSD I ask you to reconsider your attitude toward zucchini bread. Zucchini bread is just one example of a whole host of quick breads or even cake containing vegetables or fruits: pumpkin, applesauce, banana, cranberries, carrots, winter squash, parsnips - even beets. It is worth exploring the possibilities of baking muffins or breads using these ingredients. They add flavor, nutrition, moisture and texture to what might otherwise be pretty boring baked goods.
I am still working on perfecting my quick bread chops. One thing I am trying to do is cut back on the sugar and fats and still retain good flavor and texture. There are a lot of muffins out there - especially commercially made - that are serious calorie bombs. I worry about all those people who think they are doing themselves a favor because they have eschewed a donut and chewed a muffin instead. The muffin may or may not be a good idea - read the label. Carefully.
This zucchini bread batter could be baked in a loaf pan, round or square cake pan or a muffin tin. You just need to pay more attention to cooking time - bread is done when a sharp knife or cake tester comes out clean after being inserted into the middle. Also, bread will slightly pull away from sides of pan and it will be slightly browned on top.
If you are going to the trouble to bake this bread, I recommend making two loaves. This freezes very well. You could cut a cool loaf into slices and individually wrap. Then you have fast food in your freezer and you don't need to buy a calorie bomb at a convenience gas station because you are as desperate to fuel your body as you are your car. You also could give this to children instead of the ubiquitious industrial granola bars. This does require some advance planning and work, but after a while it will seem just a normal part of life.
Zucchini Bread (makes one large loaf in a 9 x 5 pan)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Mix dry ingredients in a large bowl -
2 1/4 cups flour (you can use all or part whole wheat pastry flour. You can also add a tablespoon or two or three of something like bran or ground flaxseed. Just decrease the amount of flour accordingly.
2 t. baking powder
1 t. salt
1 t. cinnamon
1/2 cup white sugar and 1/2 cup brown sugar (You could probably cut back on this depending on your tastes. I would not cut more than 1/2 cup total)
Mix wet ingredients in another bowl:
1/3 c. oil (walnut or hazelnut oil would be nice. Even a light olive oil) or melted butter
2 t. vanilla
1/3 cup plain yogurt or buttermilk
Grate fresh zucchini - do not peel. If you don't cut off the stem end you can use it like a little handle if you are grating by hand. You will need about 1 1/2 cups grated zucchini, lightly packed.
(you could substitute grated carrot for the zucchini.)
Add wet ingredients to dry and mix - don't overdo - mix just long enough so the dry ingredients are fully incorporated. Then stir in zucchini.
Put in a lightly greased pan and bake about 45 minutes for a 9x5 loaf pan. Baking time will depend on the size and shape of the pan you use. (See comments above re: doneness and baking time.)
Optional - add 1 cup raisins or walnuts or a combination. I used 1/2 lightly toasted black walnuts because that is what we have around our house. In my opinion black walnuts are a great complement to zucchini bread. And I used 1/2 cup golden raisins. I think sunflower seeds might work well in this bread.