Summertime around here always equals an abundance of zucchini at the markets. My local grocery store has so many that at the end of every business day they have to sell all the leftover stock in large bundles for a reduced price. I was able to buy a 6-pack of large zucchini for 99 cents. They’re all in perfect condition, too — no bruises to speak of.
With so many zucchini, I decided to take a few of them and make a seasonal favorite of mine: zucchini bread!
I went to America’s Test Kitchen, one of my all-time favorite cooking sources for a recipe.
Why this recipe works:
While carrot cake and banana bread recipes are usually pretty good, zucchini bread starts with two big deficits: Zucchini, by its nature, is very bland and very watery.
Zucchini is more than ninety-five percent water, so the first step was to remove as much moisture as possible. First we grated ours on the coarse holes of a box grater, coated them with sugar, and let them sit for thirty minutes. We then placed the shreds in a kitchen towel and squeezed them like a sponge to wring out every drop of water we could. This solved the moisture problem, but our tasters still complained how bland our recipe was.
Many recipes call for oil, but we found using a little butter made for a much tastier loaf. Low-fat yogurt added tangy flavor and a little lemon juice provided a citrusy zip. Many recipes go a little too far with spices, but we stuck with the simple combination of cinnamon and allspice to round out the flavors.
It is important to squeeze out most of the zucchini’s moisture before adding it to the batter or the bread will have a gummy texture. Lowfat plain yogurt can sometimes be hard to find; you can substitute lowfat sour cream if necessary, but do not use nonfat yogurt.
1 pound zucchini (about 2 small)
1 cup (7 ounces) sugar plus 2 tablespoons
1 1/3 cups (6 2/3 ounces) all-purpose flour
2/3 cup (3 2/3 ounces) whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 cup lowfat plain yogurt
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
5 tablespoon unsalted butter , softened
2 large eggs
1. Shred the zucchini on the large holes of a box grater. Toss the zucchini with the 2 tablespoons sugar, then transfer to a fine-mesh strainer and let drain for 30 minutes. Squeeze the zucchini dry with paper towels or a clean dish towel.
2. Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 375 degrees. Lightly coat an 8 1/2 by 4 1/2-inch loaf pan with vegetable oil spray.
3. Whisk the all-purpose flour, whole-wheat flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, allspice, and 1/2 cup of the sugar together in a large bowl. In a separate bowl, gently combine the dried zucchini, yogurt, and lemon juice.
4. Beat the remaining 1/2 cup sugar and butter together with an electric mixer on medium-high speed until creamy and uniform, 3 to 6 minutes, scraping down the bowl as needed. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, until combined, about 30 seconds.
5. Reduce the mixer speed to low. Beat in one-third of the flour mixture followed by half of the zucchini mixture. Repeat with half the remaining flour mixture and the remaining zucchini mixture. Beat in the remaining flour mixture until just incorporated (do not overmix).
6. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top. Bake until golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with just a few crumbs attached, 55 to 65 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through baking.
The zucchini bread was excellent. It was moist, flavorful, and most importantly, sweet but not sickeningly sweet. If you’ve never had zucchini bread, it’s not so much a bread as it is a cake. Think of the texture of banana bread or carrot cake and you’ll get the gist. The green specks running throughout the bread are shredded zucchini. Just think of it as veggie confetti. Haha. As with carrots in carrot cake, you can’t really taste or feel the zucchini in the bread once it’s cooked. The vegetable is mainly there to add some moisture and color.
The recipe calls for a loaf pan which I don’t own, so I used a 9x9x2 baking dish and my zucchini bread came out perfectly fine. However, I did have to watch the time a little to make sure the bread didn’t overcook. Since the baking dish I used is more shallow than a loaf pan, my bread cooked faster and I only need to bake it for 50-55 minutes.
Also, I didn’t have any wheat flour so I substituted all-purpose flour and it didn’t appear to have any negative impact on the recipe.