Ah, zucchini. The magical summer squash that proliferates in every amateur green thumb’s garden each August, resulting in gigundo green monsters, bigger than your head, and the inevitable question, “What the hell am I going to do with all this zucchini?”
So why am I torturing you with thoughts of zucchini, when asparagus and sugar snap peas are still weeks away and summer squash is a mere pipe dream? Maybe I am just reminiscing on the long, lazy days of summer, when I will split a zucchini, spritz with a little olive oil & balsamic vinegar, plop it on the grill, and call it dinner. But I am also trying to clean out the freezer of last season’s harvest, preparing for the Spring that I know is coming (yes, despite the fact that it was 28 degrees when I got up this morning, I KNOW Spring is coming. So come on already!) and all the wonderful, fresh food it will bring.
My fiance calls zucchini “The Evil Weed.” He dislikes summer squash in general, but has a truly pathological hatred of zucchini, and I have made a solemn vow that I will never try to sneak the ‘evil weed’ into meals without his knowledge. This means that I eat a lot of zucchini in the summertime. Despite the zuc-hate, however, he will eat these quick breads. (He grumbles, and swears that he will deny it to his dying day, but he had about five of the mini-muffins yesterday.) Therefore, every summer when the piles of summer squash threaten to overwhelm, I grate up a whole bunch of zucchini, in 2-cup portions, and pack them away in the freezer, just for this very recipe. If you didn’t get around to packing away a whole bunch ‘o zucchini last summer, never fear; August will come again, and you will have an answer to the Inevitable Question. If you did pack away zucchini… good for you! Now go make this bread as a reward to yourself.
Don’t be deterred by the long list of ingredients; this is a “quick bread” after all, and the recipe comes together pretty easily. This is one of my favorite ways to prepare zucchini – healthy, spicy, flavorful little muffins and quick breads that are great for breakfast, a snack or a surprise gift when visiting friends. It’s a great way to sneak some vegetables into veggie-adverse kids as well – if Tai will eat it, anyone will!
Adapted from Zucchini & Apricot Bread in Great Breads by Martha Rose Shulman
Mini Zucchini Quick Breads
- 4 eggs (8.5 oz)
- 1/4 cup (1 and 1/2 oz) grapeseed oil (or safflower or canola oil)
- 1/4 cup (2 oz) buttermilk
- 1/4 cup (2 oz) applesauce (or apple butter, or frozen concentrated orange juice, thawed)
- 1/2 cup (3 and 1/4 oz) raw sugar (organic turbinado)
- 2 tsp vanilla
- zest (1 tbsp) and juice (~2 oz) of one medium orange
- 8 oz (about 2 cups) grated zucchini, well washed, peel on, fresh or frozen
- 12 oz (2 and 2/3 cups) whole white wheat flour (or a mix of AP, bread, spelt or other flours)
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 1 and 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp sea salt
- 2 and 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 1 and 1/2 tsp ground cloves
- 1 and 1/2 tsp nutmeg
- 1 tsp allspice
- 1 heaping cup walnut halves, coarsely chopped
- Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees F.
- Grease 4 mini-loaf pans (3 x 3 x 6 inch), or 2 mini-loaf pans and one mini-muffin pan, either with butter or canola oil spray.
- In a large bowl, whisk together eggs, oil, buttermilk, applesauce, sugar, vanilla, orange zest & juice and zucchini, including juice.
- In a medium bowl, mix flours, baking powder and soda, salt and spices. Whisk well to combine.
- Add the flour mixture to the liquid; fold in liquid until just combined. Before flour is completely combined, add chopped walnuts (coating the walnuts in a small amount of flour will prevent them from sinking to the bottom of the pan prior to baking). Quickly fill the bread pans to about 3/4 of the way full, and place on a baking sheet (for ease in handling) in the preheated oven. (If making mini-muffins as well, fill mini-muffin tins full to the top and place the pan in the upper third of the oven.)
- Bake mini-loaves for 30-35 minutes (mini-muffins for approximately 15 minutes), or until the tops are nicely brown and a cake tester inserted into the middle comes out clean.
- Cool in the pans, on wire racks, for 10-15 minutes, then remove from pans and cool completely on wire racks.
Yields four mini-loaves, OR two mini-loaves and 20 mini-muffins.
- This bread is moist, spicy, and not very sweet. If you prefer it sweeter, add another 2 – 4 tbsp of turbinado sugar. If it did not come out quite sweet enough for you, or if you simply want to turn it into a more decadent dessert, try this simple sugar glaze: in a small bowl, start with about 1 tsp of orange juice and 2 tbsp of powdered sugar. Mix well with a fork (sifting the powdered sugar first will prevent any lumps in the glaze, but they will eventually disappear with enough mixing). Add powdered sugar or juice until desired consistency is reached. You want the glaze to be quite thick, almost on the verge of not-pourable, while still being able to drizzle off the spoon. Water makes a whiter, prettier glaze, but orange juice tastes better (and makes me believe that it is something slightly more healthy than liquified sugar).
- You can replace the sugar entirely with 3/8 cups honey; the baked bread will have a more dense structure.
- In the height of zucchini season, I grate and freeze 2 cup portions so that I can make this bread all winter long. I’ve also made this recipe with yellow summer squash and pattypan squash; both of these have a little less liquid than zucchini, so you may need to add a little extra in the form of juice, milk or applesauce.
Cool completely, then wrap in foil or plastic wrap to keep moist. Will keep at room temperature for up to 3 days, in the refrigerator for about 5 days. By one week, the bread starts to dry out. Freezes very well; double wrap in plastic wrap, and then re-warm thawed bread in a 350 degree oven for about 15 minutes, or toast slices in the toaster oven and serve with butter.
Zucchini is at it’s height in late summer, but my favorite time to make this bread is in winter, with frozen, grated zucchini. With frozen zucchini, it is possible to make this bread year-round.