I'm pretty sure that zucchini bread is the whole reason that zucchini exists. How else would we get to make a tender, rich, and ever-so-slightly sweet cake like this and still be able to call it healthy? If you've never been introduced before, let me say a few words about zucchini bread. First off, it doesn't taste like zucchini. Nor can you feel pieces of it in the bread itself. Both the flavor and the texture of the shredded zucchini melt into the bread, creating a subtle sweetness and a soft texture.
I like a few teaspoons of cinnamon and a pinch of nutmeg, especially if I happen to be baking on a blustery early-fall day as I am today. You can also add a handful of nuts, raisins, or chocolate chips if it makes you happy.
To avoid ending up with soggy loaves from all the moisture in the zucchini, I've adopted a trick from Cook's Illustrated. You simply squeeze the shredded zucchini in a clean dish cloth before mixing it with the rest of the ingredients. The loaves end up light and airy instead of dense and weighed down.
This recipe makes two "tea-sized" loaves. The smallish slices are perfect for an afternoon snack or late-night nosh. If you'd prefer larger slices, bake all of the batter in one single loaf pan and extend the baking time by about ten minutes.
1 pound zucchini (about 2 medium-sized)
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
1 cup white sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
3/4 cup olive oil (or canola oil)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Optional extras: 1 cup chopped nuts, 1 cup raisins, or 1 cup chocolate chips
non-stick spray or butter for greasing the pans
Heat the oven to 350°F. Grease two 8x4" loaf pans.
Trim the stem and root-end from the zucchinis and shred them on a box grater. Gather the shreds in a clean kitchen towel or several layers of cheese cloth and squeeze to press out as much moister from the zucchini as possible.
Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and spices in a large mixing bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs, sugars, olive oil, and vanilla extract.
Toss the zucchini and any extras (nuts, raisins, chocolate chips) in the flour mixture. Pour the liquids over top. Gently stir and fold just until no more flour is visible. Divide the batter between the two loaf pans.
Bake 45-50 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. The finished loaves should have a golden-brown crust and feel springy if you give the top a little pat. Let them cool in the pan for 10 minutes and then turn them out onto a wire rack to cool completely.
Loaves will keep in an airtight container for several days. They can also be wrapped in foil and frozen for up to three months. Thaw in the fridge overnight or in a warm oven for 20 minutes.
(Image: Emma Christensen)