I found a gorgeous giant zucchini at our local farmer market for $1 last weekend. When I picked it up, I thought that I would make it into a quiche, since we haven’t had a quiche for a while. Then I came home and realized that I didn’t have any heavy cream, half and half, or any whole milk. All I had was skim milk, so I decided to just skip the quiche. What I have been craving for a while now is a some sort of breakfast bread, so I thought that zucchini bread would satisfy my craving.
I decided to try Heidi Swanson’s My Special Zucchini Bread recipe because it had a lot of ingredients that I thought was a little bit different than what I would normally find in a zucchini bread, such as poppy seed, crystallized ginger, and lemon zest (although I didn’t have lemon, so I ended up baking it without them!). I also love that her recipe yielded 2 loaves and gets rid of half of my zucchini. (Yes, after I grated my zucchini, I ended up with about 5 cups of nicely shredded zucchini, so I still ended up with extra 2 cups!)
In addition to lemon, I also omitted curry from the spices below–because we only had hot curry in the house, and I wasn’t sure at this point whether I am ready to have a spicy zucchini bread. I really ended up loving this recipe, because it was moist and had such a nice texture to it, and the poppy seed and the ginger really added a nice crunch to every bite. Heidi mentioned that she liked her bread a little bit underdone, so I baked mine for about 45 minutes. One turned out great, but the 2nd one came out a little bit too moist in the center, so I had to throw it back in the oven for additional 5 minutes.
1 1/2 cups chopped walnuts, plus a few to sprinkle on top
1/3 cup poppy seeds (optional)
zest of two lemons (optional)
1/2 cup crystallized ginger, finely chopped (optional)
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup fine grain natural cane sugar or brown sugar, lightly packed
3 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 cups grated zucchini (about 3 medium), skins on, squeeze some of the moisture out and then fluff it up again before using
3 cups whole wheat pastry flour (or all-purpose flour)
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon curry powder (optional)
Special equipment: two 1 pound loaf pans (5 x 9 inches)
Preheat your oven to 350°F. Butter the two loaf pans, dust them with a bit of flour and set aside. Alternately, you can line the pans with a sheet of parchment. If you leave a couple inches hanging over the pan, it makes for easy removal after baking. Just grab the parchment “handles” and lift the zucchini bread right out.
In a small bowl combine the walnuts, poppy seeds, lemon zest, and ginger. Set aside.
In a mixer, beat the butter until fluffy. Add the sugars and beat again until mixture comes together and is no longer crumbly. Add the eggs one at a time mixing well and scraping down the sides of the bowl between each addition. Stir in the vanilla and then the zucchini (low speed if you are using a mixer).
In a separate bowl, combine the whole wheat pastry flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and curry powder. Add these dry ingredients to the wet ingredients in two batches, stirring between each addition.
By hand, fold in the walnut, poppy seed, lemon zest, and crystalized ginger mixture. Save a bit of this to sprinkle on the tops of the zucchini loaves before baking for a bit of texture. Avoid over mixing the batter, it should be thick and moist, not unlike a butter cream frosting.
Divide the batter equally between the two loaf pans. Make sure it is level in the pans, by running a spatula over the top of each loaf. Bake for about 40-45 minutes on a middle oven rack. I like to under bake my zucchini bread ever so slightly to ensure it stays moist. Keep in mind it will continue to cook even after it is removed from the oven as it is cooling. Remove from the oven and cool the zucchini bread in pan for about ten minutes. Turn out onto wire racks to finish cooling – if you leave them in their pans, they will get sweaty and moist (not in a good way) as they cool.
Yield: 2 loaves