Saturday, September 12, 2009
The cool misty morning has carried my senses toward zucchini bread baking in the warm oven, although tomatoes hang on the vine in the garden, I feel Fall rushing in and am in need of something deeply satisfying to offset the chill.
I'm not ready to bid adieu to summer and zucchini is begging to be eaten. The recipe I'm using today is a compilation of many zuch bread recipes with slight adjustments to tame my idiosyncratic quirks. Hope you enjoy it!
1 1/2 cups chopped walnuts
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)-don't peel and squeeze the moisture out after grating, then loosen it up again
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
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves (adjust to your taste)
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger (adjust to your taste)
2/3 cup raisins-optional-(soak raisins in a cup of water til plump then drain before adding)
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, grab the parchment paper and lift the loaf 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.
In a separate bowl, combine the whole wheat pastry flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, cloves, ginger, and nutmeg. Add these dry ingredients to the wet ingredients in batches, stirring after each addition.
Fold (stir minimally) in the walnut, poppy seed, lemon zest, crystalized ginger mixture, and optional raisins. (I like my bread fruity and heavy.) Save a bit of this to sprinkle on the tops of the zucchini loaves before baking. Don't over-stir you don't want air bubbles in the batter), it should be thick and moist.
Divide the batter equally between the two loaf pans. Level the tops with a spatula, just push to the edges. Bake for about 40-45 minutes on a middle oven rack. Check by inserting a toothpick into the center-it should be slightly wet not coated with batter. It's best to under-bake the zucchini bread slightly to ensure it stays moist. Keep in mind, it will continue to cook a bit even after it is removed from the oven. Remove from the oven and cool the zucchini bread in the pan for about 10 or so minutes. Once cool, turn out or lift out with parchment paper, onto wire racks to finish cooling, don't leave in pans for too long because they will get soggy and loose firmness. Slice and chow.
May you not gain one ounce. Enjoy, and remember, if you inbibe too much, take a brisk walk right afterward!
Makes 2 loaves.