You know what always makes me twitchy with envy? Hearing people talk about how they just have sooo many zucchini or tomatoes or whatever from their garden, and they just don’t know what to do with it all.
Also: Give them to me.
I live in an apartment. There are no raised beds and no compost bins. There isn’t enough sunlight for container plants. I can’t even keep herbs because the cats eat them.
No, I bought these zucchini from the grocery store, although it at least was from the local farm section. But it’s the end of summer, and, damn it, I wanted zucchini bread.
I’m not a big carrot cake fan – vegetables? dessert? they do not belong together – but zucchini bread I can do. It’s a quick bread, a snack; it isn’t masquerading as a fancy cake. Like most quick breads, this one starts with the dry ingredients (flour, salt, leavener, nuts) and the wet ingredients (eggs, butter, sugar, yogurt, a little lemon juice) mixed separately before being folding together.
What I like about this recipe is how it treats the zucchini. Zucchini is full of water, and think about it – when did you last add water to a quick bread? You don’t, because it makes baked foods wet and gummy. So you have to remove the water from the zucchini. After the zucchini is shredded, mix it with a couple tablespoons of sugar, and let it sit and drain in a strainer while you prepare the rest of the ingredients. By the time you’re ready to move on with the recipe, the zucchini will have given up something like a half-cup of (bright green) water. What’s even better about this method is that you end up using more zucchini than you could if you had to keep all of the water in the dough.
Ooh, I loved these. Loved them. So soft, so tender, so pretty and green. They don’t taste at all vegetal, and they’re just sweet enough. Someday I’ll have a house and a vegetable garden, and I will turn so much zucchini into beautiful bread. Until then, I’ll be grateful that zucchini is available year-round from the grocery store.
One year ago: Sausage and Red Pepper Hash
Zucchini Bread (from Cooks Illustrated)
To make muffins instead of a loaf, divide the batter between 12 greased and floured muffin cups. Bake at 375 degrees for 18-25 minutes.
2 cups (10 ounces) all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
1 pound zucchini, washed and dried, ends and stems removed, cut in half lengthwise and seeded if using large zucchini, each half cut into 1-inch pieces
¾ cups (5¼ ounces) sugar
½ cup pecans or walnuts, chopped coarse
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
¼ cup plain yogurt
2 large eggs, beaten lightly
1 tablespoon lemon juice
6 tablespoons (¾ stick) butter, melted and cooled
1. Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 375 degrees. Grease the bottom and sides of a 9 by 5-inch loaf pan; dust with flour, tapping out the excess.
2. In the bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal blade, process the zucchini and 2 tablespoons of the sugar until the zucchini is coarsely shredded, twelve to fifteen 1-second pulses. Transfer the mixture to a fine-mesh strainer set at least 2 inches over a bowl and allow to drain for 30 minutes. Alternatively, you can shred the halved zucchini (don’t cut into 1-inch pieces) on the large holes of a box grater, toss with the 2 tablespoons of sugar, and drain.
3. Meanwhile, spread the nuts on a baking sheet and toast until fragrant, 5 to 7 minutes. Transfer the nuts to a cooling rack and cool completely. Transfer the nuts to a large bowl; add the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt, and whisk until combined. Set aside.
4. Whisk together the remaining ½ cup plus 2 tablespoons of sugar, yogurt, eggs, lemon juice, and melted butter in a 2-cup glass measure until combined. Set aside.
5. After the zucchini has drained, squeeze the zucchini with several layers of paper towels to absorb excess moisture. Stir the zucchini and the yogurt mixture into the flour mixture until just moistened. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the surface with a rubber spatula.
6. Bake until the loaf is golden brown and a skewer inserted in the center comes out clean, 55 to 60 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through baking. Cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack and cool for at least one hour before serving. (The bread can be wrapped with plastic wrap and stored at room temperature for up to 3 days.)