When I worked at a soup kitchen we didn’t talk about fall we joked about zucchini season. Once the garden bounty of late summer sparked the generosity of the community we had abundant zucchini for weeks. We made zucchini soup, cold lightly dressed vinegar salad, roasted it in the oven, cooked it in eggs and most popular of all made it into soft and rich zucchini bread.
This quick bread smells like fall to me. A little bit vegetal with a mix of cinnamon. Quick bread is a funny term for a process that still takes an hour (or more!) but is fair in that using baking soda, a chemical leavener, eliminates the need for rise time and proofing required for yeast based doughs. Quick breads like banana bread, carrot bread, apple bread or ABC bread (apple, banana, carrot) rely on a basic formula of fat, flour, sugar, and sometimes egg + a mix-in.
With a basic formula that can be modified for ingredients on hand, a quick bread recipe is a useful part of your meal planning options. It can be produced easily and split into several calorie dense portions to bring with you on the go and can also be frozen for later. In my thinking about planning my food week, a quick bread can take the place of granola bars.
A Basic Quick Bread Formula:
1 pan = 1 cup flour, ½ tsp baking soda, ½ tsp salt, ¼ -1/2 cup oil or butter, and ¼-1/2 cup sugar or brown sugar, 1 egg + [1-1 ½ cups of a shredded or mashed fruit or veggie]
Mix wet and dry ingredients separately, then combine. Bake at 350F till a test poke comes out clean.
Tips: Banana bread can have less oil and sugar easily because the banana adds moisture and sugar. The zucchini bread has a little more because it has less moisture and sugar.
Use oil if you don’t have butter, works equally well if not better
If you double the recipe the bread will fill a pan, but it is more challenging to bake and make sure the middle is cooked.
You can see in these variations that the amount of the cooking fat and sugar can vary. Judging this might take a little practice. Vegetables and butter can vary in water content as well so your results will vary each time a little.
Banana bread: 1 cup flour, 2 bananas, ¼ cup sugar, ¼ cup oil or butter, ½ tsp salt, ½ tsp baking soda,½ tsp vanilla extract
ABC Bread (Apple Banana Carrot): 1 cup flour, 1 small very ripe banana, ¼ cup shredded carrot, ¼ cup shredded apple, ⅓ cup sugar, ⅓ cup oil or butter, ½ tsp salt, ½ tsp baking soda, ½ tsp cinnamon
1 zucchini medium sized
1 cup flour all purpose, white whole wheat flour, or a mix of all purpose flour & whole wheat
½ tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
½ tsp cinnamon
½ cup butter, melted and cooled to room temperature
½ cup brown sugar
Optional: 1 Orange for Zest *see notes on how to zest, Honey to serve.
- Preheat oven to 350F.
- Prepare pan by spraying with cooking spray or rubbing the inside with a small amount of oil or butter.
- Peel zucchini, chop off the ends. Shred/chop the zucchini into thin and small pieces. You need about 1 loose cup. There are a few ways to do this. All these ways work well. Once shredded set aside.
- Use a grater to shred the zucchini.
- Use a vegetable peeler to make the whole peeled zucchini into long peeled shreds and then chop the pieces with a knife and cutting board.
- Slice the zucchini on a cutting board into very thin slices, then dice the slices into a very small pieces
- Use a food processor to shred the peeled zucchini
- In a bowl, mix together the dry ingredients, flour, baking soda and salt, with cinnamon.
- In another bowl combine the brown sugar, butter, and egg. Mix until uniform consistency is achieved.
- Mix zucchini into wet ingredients. If using orange zest or nuts add it here.
- Add dry ingredients to the wet ingredients. Mix till all of the flour is moistened. Don’t over mix or knead the batter though – the texture will become tough. Spread this thick batter into the pan evenly.
- Bake on a middle rack for 25-30 minutes. It took 27 minutes in my oven. You can tell it is done by pressing the center slightly if it bounces back it is done. Poking the middle with a toothpick, wooden skewer or fork or knife to see if the batter is raw still and sticks is a good way too.
- Allow to cool a little before slicing.
Storage: After cooling completely, wrap in plastic wrap or store in a sealed container – bread will keep 4 days on the counter. If you wrap pieces and freeze it, you can pull slices out for a month.
*How to Zest an orange: Zesting citrus means scrapping just the outside top layer of the peel of the fruit off and collecting this layer to be used in a recipe. This can be done using a zester, or microplane or side of some box graters. I like to use the side of a knife. Hold the fruit firmly in one hand keeping fingers tucked back away. Use a knife in a motion away from you to gently scratch the surface and remove the top layer, letting it fall on a plate or collecting it from the side of the knife. You don’t want the white area under the peel, it is bitter. You don’t need a lot of zest to make a big impact. Don’t throw away the fruit after, but do use it soon because breaking the peel is much like cutting it and it will spoil. In the picture below, you can see what the orange looks like as the peel is zested.