One Tuesday night, my friend, Pat, showed up at beer club with a paper bag full of goodies. What kinds of goodies? Gorgeous homegrown produce from his garden in Lawrenceville... and he was going to share it with all of us! Our very own harvest Santa Claus. "A pepper for you, a zucchini for you..." It's safe to say that Pat was easily the favorite that night. :)
Here's the thing with seasonal ingredients -- they are so bright and appealing, begging to be used as soon as possible. I'm talking zucchinis as bright as my once favorite green Crayola crayon! And then, all hopped up on some zucchini-induced high, I went fishing for recipes and found one that I absolutely must make and share with you immediately. Sounds good, right?
I pride myself on having a mind like a steel trap, so I don't usually check to make sure that I haven't already written about a similar recipe. I really should, but the simple fact is that I don't. Instead, I go about cooking and baking with my pretty produce, snapping pictures along the way, occasionally jumping up on chairs to get a better angle, and enthusiastically typing up the entire story when it's all finished.
Well, um, what if I told you that I've written a zucchini bread post before? Gulp. You caught me. I have.
Roughly a year ago I was proclaiming that the aforementioned recipe for chocolate chip zucchini bread was the cat's meow. The bee's knees. "This only thing you should ever make with zucchini!" I wanted to shout in the streets. And, truth be told, it was delicious and satisfying... at the time.
As time fades, so do memories, especially those involving my beloved taste buds. The only thing I could remember about that recipe was what I saw in pictures and read in the recap. It was good, but could it have been better?
Short answer: hell yes!
Longer answer: absofruitly! (Did you know that while the zucchini is treated as a vegetable in culinary contexts, it is botanically considered a fruit? Now you know!)
This bread -- this is one I'm going to remember. (Thank you, Deb!)
Because I couldn't wait long enough to allow the bread to cool and slather it with butter, I took a big ol' unsophisticated bite out of that mini loaf. Poor thing didn't know what was coming. And goodness, wasn't that the right thing to do. Moist, sweet, full of warm spices, with beautiful green flecks of garden fresh zucchini! Heaven! As much as I'm not one to poo-poo the addition of chocolate, I've gotta say that this zucchini bread is a purist's zucchini bread. It needed absolutely nothing, well, it couldn't hurt...
Take two. A proper setup, complete with the addition of warm butter. After all, it seems as though the second time around is the charm. Better test that to make sure. And hey, the more meetings I have with this bread, the more fondly I'm going to remember it and be motivated to bake it again... hopefully remembering that I have already written about it. If not, that's what I have you for, right? :)
(adapted from Smitten Kitchen)
-makes 2 loaves, or 1 loaf and approximately 12 muffins
A few notes: Deb mentions that chopped nuts, dried fruit, or even chocolate chips may be added, but feels that any of would have messed with her great childhood memories of zucchini bread. I must admit that I agree with her, but to each his or her own :)
1 cup olive or vegetable oil
1 3/4 cups granulated sugar
2 cups grated zucchini
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 cups all-purpose flour
3 teaspoons cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup chopped walnuts or pecans (optional)
1 cup dried cranberries, raisins or chocolate chips or a combination thereof (optional)
Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour two 8×4 inch loaf pans, liberally. Alternately, line 24 muffin cups with paper liners.
In a large bowl, beat the eggs with a whisk. Mix in oil and sugar, then zucchini and vanilla.
Combine flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking soda, baking powder and salt, as well as nuts, chocolate chips and/or dried fruit, if using. Stir this into the egg mixture. Divide the batter into prepared pans.
Bake loaves for 60 minutes, plus or minus ten, or until a tester inserted into the center comes out clean. Muffins or mini loaves will bake far more quickly, approximately 20 to 25 minutes.