My kids and I had our first garden at our church’s community garden last summer, and the kids just loved it. Their excitement was like that of Christmas morning when we spotted our first sprouts coming up out of the ground, and they were astounded when we picked our first vegetables. Eating the vegetables was not always met with the same enthusiasm.
They loved some things–fresh lettuce, green beans, and the tomatoes later in the season.
They did NOT appreciate the squash. Their grandparents had brought some butternut squash from Minnesota once the year before for them to try, and they were not fans at all. I offered them grilled zucchini and summer squash from our garden which they tolerated the first time. When it began to show up regularly in our summer meals, they were not amused.
By the end of the summer, however, as we were discussing whether or not to continue with the garden for another season, the kids voted with a resounding YES that we should garden again, and their one condition was that we MUST PLANT MORE ZUCCHINI. The reason for the 360 degree change in their opinion? This bread. (And a chocolate version which I will share another day.)
I too fell in love with this bread. It was my favorite treat of last summer, and I couldn’t wait to harvest my first zucchini this summer. I am sure I have eaten zucchini bread before, but it did not make any kind of impression. This bread made an impression. It is spiced with cinnamon and allspice; it is soft and moist and keeps its shape. When it is first baked and hasn’t yet been sealed up in plastic or an airtight container, it has the most wonderful little crunch to the outside edges. Yum. Writing about it now makes me want to go snitch another piece. It’s basically vegetables, right?
- 2 small zucchini (1 pound), ends trimmed [If you only have large zucchini, you can still use them, but cut them open and scoop out the seeds and discard them.]
- 2 cups (10 ounces) all-purpose flour [I do an extra ounce at my altitude]
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon ground allspice
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 1/2 cups white sugar
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
- 2 large eggs
- 1/4 cup whole or low-fat plain yogurt (I use plain Greek yogurt)
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- (optional) 1/2 cup pecans or walnuts, toasted and chopped coarse
- *The recipe also offers a variation to fold in 3/4 cup golden raisins or dried cranberries. I have never tried these additions.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees with rack in the middle position of the oven. Grease an 8 1/2 x 4 1/2 inch loaf pan. (I use Baker’s Joy spray.)
- Shred the zucchini using a food processor or the large holes of a box grater.
- Squeeze the shredded zucchini between several layers of paper towels or a clean dish towel to absorb excess moisture and to keep your bread from getting soggy.
- Once the oven is preheated, stop to toast the nuts on a baking sheet. Toasting the nuts will bring out more flavor. Spread nuts on a baking sheet in a single layer and put in the oven for 5-10 minutes, stirring frequently, until the nuts are lightly browned and smell fragrant. Coarsely chop. For most recipes, I leave out the optional nuts, but I really love pecans in this bread.
- Whisk the dry ingredients (flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, allspice, and salt) together in a large bowl. In a medium glass bowl, melt the butter and then whisk in sugar, eggs, yogurt, and lemon juice. (I always make a double batch of this recipe, and for the yogurt, I just use a 5.3 oz. container of Dannon’s Oikos Greek Nonfat Yogurt, Plain. It ends up being a rounded half-cup of yogurt, but it has worked great for me.)
- Gently fold the shredded zucchini and yogurt mixture into the flour mixture with a rubber spatula until just combined. Gently fold in the nuts if you are using them.
- Scrape the batter into your prepared loaf pan and smooth the top. Bake until golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out with just a few crumbs attached, about 1 hour, rotating the pan halfway through baking.
- Let the loaf cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack and let cool before serving. This bread also freezes well if wrapped tightly.
Source: The America’s Test Kitchen Family Baking Book