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Friday, July 29, 2011

Not-Your-Mama's Zucchini Bread

The recent heatwave we experienced in the Northeast resulted in a whole lot of cucurbit growth in the garden, leaving us with several arm's length zukes to pick. While I usually cook up something savory with the smaller guys, the gigantic ones typically meet my grater and get baked up into a sweet bread or batch of muffins. Like many, I've tried boat loads of zucchini bread recipes; I usually end up doing something quite traditional with spices, raisins, and nuts, and sometimes I switch it up with a chocolate loaf, which I highly recommend trying if you've never gone that route! But I stumbled upon this unique recipe for a lemony loaf and couldn't resist trying it out, especially because it featured whole wheat flour and maple syrup instead of refined white flour and sugar. Super moist and packed with refreshing lemon flavor, this recipe is well-suited for the sunshine-filled days of summer.

Not-Your-Mama's
Zucchini Bread

makes 2 9-inch loaf pans or 24 muffins


Ingredients:
(slight alterations marked with *)
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 cup melted butter
  • 1/2 cup walnut oil*
  • 1 1/4 cup pure maple syrup
  • Zest and juice of one lemon
  • 2 1/2 cups whole wheat flour (worked nicely with 100% stone ground)
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 3 (packed) cups shredded zucchini
  • Walnuts, chopped (optional)*

Directions:


Preheat oven to 325 degrees F for bread or 375 degrees F for muffins. Beat eggs, butter, oil, syrup, zest and juice together. Whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon. Mix the dry ingredients into the wet, just enough to incorporate; fold in the zucchini. Pour the batter into loaf pans or muffin cups. Sprinkle with walnuts, if desired. Bake bread for about an hour and 20-25 minutes for muffins or until a tester comes out clean.

My Two Cents (and an update):

Three cups of zucchini shredded off of a really big zuke like I had is quite moist; I suggest oh-so-gently pressing or squeezing the shredded zucchini just before you fold it into the batter in order to remove some (but certainly not all) of its water. If the zucchini you are using is small or medium-sized, you will likely want to keep all of its moisture. I love the bright citrus flavor of this bread, and hope that orange zest/juice and poppy seeds will make a delicious sister to this particular recipe. I also made this bread without butter, using all walnut oil, and the muffins are just as scrumptious. It has been suggested in my household that piping raspberry or blueberry jam into the center of the muffins would really put this recipe over the top, and I would have to agree! Sounds like an excellent hand-held dessert for a summertime party.

UPDATE on 8/7/2011: Since I suggested trying out chocolate zucchini bread if you had never done so, here are some slight adjustments to the above recipe that will give you a batch of yummy chocolate bread or muffins.
  • Nix the lemon zest and juice (though chocolate-orange bread sounds pretty good...)
  • Use 2 cups flour and 1 cup cocoa powder
  • Use 1 1/2 cups maple syrup
  • Add 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • Add 1+ cup chocolate chips if you want a double-chocolate bread
  • Sprinkle with chopped almonds or walnuts (optional)

Rebekah


Images by Rebekah Carter (2011). Recipe from Lemonbasil.

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