When I think of zucchini, I think of other foods, which have super-powers. For instance, the classic “B” movie Attack of the Killer Tomatoes comes to mind. Then there was the “Eggplant That Ate Chicago.” Or else I think of the Blancmange which ate Wimbledon, on Monty Python’s Flying Circus. As with the tomatoes, eggplant, or blancmange, zucchini will take over, if you give it half a chance. Do not turn your back or close your eyes for a millisecond. Be afraid…very afraid of this green garden menace.
I do not grow my own zucchini, as I know that I will benefit from others, whose gardens are overflowing with the squash. On my island within a matter of days, I received one zucchini as a party favour, if you will, at the end of a dinner party (how can one say “no, thank you”?) and then a phone call from a neighbour who was trying to unload her excess. I accepted the second offer, too, as there were a couple of cucumbers thrown in to make it irresistible.
Now I know to wait until August for the largesse of zucchini. This year, however, was the first when I finally decided to finally try zucchini bread.
In addition to using two of the three aforementioned squash I received, I wanted to finish up some light sour cream in the fridge. America’s Test Kitchen’s New Best Recipe (ATK) had an attractive option for zucchini bread. The ATK version makes one loaf, though it uses yogurt instead of sour cream. Despite their warning that sour cream made their loaves too heavy and rich, I went ahead with it anyway. ATK – like the zucchini-zombies – could not scare me away.
I always appreciate ATK’s rigourous experimentation with ingredients, technique, cooking times, pans, etc. Their recipe stated that the subtlety of the zucchini can be lost, when many other spices are used, e.g., cinnamon or nutmeg, so they limit flavour-boosters to lemon juice to brighten the taste. This approach works well, so I give them credit for their thoroughness, as always.
The only drawback, perhaps, is that it is rather time-consuming to shred/grate the zucchini, before draining in a strainer and drying it in paper towels after 30 minutes. Even using a food processor, this is a bit of a long recipe – another reason to double the quantities and bake two loaves. I strongly advise doing two at once, as the bread freezes well or lasts three days, tightly wrapped, at room temperature.
The bread has a fine crumb. This is attributable to the yogurt, or sour cream, and the lemon juice. I found the zucchini flavour to come through in a distinctive and pleasant manner, but it was definitely not over-powering. The toasted walnuts add a crunchy textural counterpoint to the rich body of the bread, which really is more like cake.
For the doubled-up recipe…
To complement the tanginess of the lemon and sour cream, I served the bread with cream cheese and my own home-made raspberry-cherry preserves. Chocolate chips would be a great addition, I believe, and might not overpower the zucchini-ness of the loaf.
So give into your neighbours’ generosity or make good use of your own bounty by doubling up on your zucchini bread baking with this stalwart recipe.
Makes two loaves
- 4 cups (20 ounces)’ unbleached all-p flour, plus more for dusting the pan
- 2 pounds zucchini, washed and dried, stems removed, cut in half, length-wise into 1-inch pieces, seeded if using large zucchini
- 1 1/2 cups sugar
- 1 cup pecans or walnuts, chopped coarsely
- 2 teaspoons baking soda
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ cup sour cream (I used light) or plain yogurt
- 4 large eggs, beaten lightly
- 2 tablespoons juice from 1 lemon
- 12 tablespoons (1.5 sticks or six ounces) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
- Flour and grease two 9” x 5” loaf pans.
- Cut off ends of zucchini and chop into one-inch pieces.
- In a food processor with the metal blade, chop the zucchini, watching carefully with 12 – 15 one-second pulses, with 4 tablespoons sugar.
- 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 it into I-inch pieces) on the large holes of a box grater, toss with thev4 tablespoons sugar, and drain.
- 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.
- Whisk together the remaining 1 cup plus 4 tablespoons sugar, the sour cream (or yogurt), eggs, lemon juice, and melted butter in a bowl until combined. Set aside.
- Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees, a bit before the half-hour draining time has expired.
- 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.
- Place the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the surface with a rubber spatula.
- Bake until the loaves are golden brown and a toothpick 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 1 hour before serving. (The bread can be wrapped with plastic wrap and stored at room temperature for up to 3 days.
Recipe can be halved, but why? With all the zucchini running amok, threatening to take over….