delicious discourse

The best zucchini bread ever, really

Posted in recipe by delicious:discourse on September 2, 2008

Zucchini bread, like carrot cake, runs in my blood. One of the many reasons I love carrot cake is because my mother, back in her baking days, would make it for every birthday of my Dad, my sister, and I, as well as requesting it to celebrate every year she turned older. I just grew up with it. It was a part of my childhood and now it is a big part of my life. So, I assume the same would have happened with zucchini bread had my father not nipped it in the bud at the early stage. The story goes, as newlyweds in Ventura, my mother would make zucchini bread all the time. My dad working close by at his surf shop, would come home for lunch or after a surf and start with a slice, which turned to two, which turned to three, you get my point. Once you start, if its that good, it is hard to stop no matter how satisfied you are. So, my Dad, a lean, athletic guy in his late-twenties, had to ask my mother to stop making so much zucchini bread because he was gaining weight! True story. Good thing birthdays come just once a year.

So, after a childhood sans zucchini bread, I decided I should try my hand at making it myself. My first attempt proved tasty, but this post, of my second attempt, proves it can get much much better.

Last week I stumbled across my now favorite blog, the aesthetically simple, gorgeously photographed, and filled-with-knowledge 101 Cookbooks. Perusing the recipe journal, I came across Heidi’s, the author, recipe for her special zucchini bread. What caught my eye were a few of the ingredients, namely curry powder, poppy seeds, and crystallized ginger. This would either be the most perfect combination or perfectly awful. I had to try it.

The verdict—perfect. Absolutely perfect. The unusual ingredients present a mystery as you try to discern the slight hint of curry powder and ginger. I took a loaf to work, the recipe makes two, and the bosses son claimed I was a gourmet chef. My reply—hardly, but Mom would be proud, and Dad would be in trouble.

Heidi’s Special Zucchini Bread Recipe (yields 2 loaves)
1 1/2 cups chopped walnuts, plus a few to sprinkle on top
1/3 cups poppy seeds (optional)
zest of two lemons (optional)
1/2 cup crystallized ginger, finely chopped (optional)
2 t. vanilla extract
3 cups grated zucchini (about 3 medium), skins on, squeeze some of the moisture out and then fluff it up again before using
3 large eggs
3 cups whole wheat pastry flour (or all-purpose flour)
1 1/2 t. baking soda
1/2 t. baking powder
1 t. salt
1 t. cinnamon
1 T curry powder (optional)
1/2 cup brown sugar, lightly packed
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1 cup sugar
Preheat your oven to 350°F. Butter the two loaf pans, dust them with a bit of flour and set aside.
In a small bowl combine the walnuts, poppy seeds, lemon zest, and ginger. Set aside.
In a mixer, beat the butter until fluffy. Add the sugars and beat again until the mixture comes together and is no longer crumbly. Add the eggs one at a time mixing well and scraping down the sides of the bowl between each addition. Stir in the vanilla and then the zucchini (low speed if you are using a mixer).
In a separate bowl, combine the whole wheat pastry flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and curry powder. Add these dry ingredients to the wet ingredients in two batches, stirring between each addition.
By hand, fold in the walnut, poppy seed, lemon zest, and crystalized ginger mixture. Save a bit of this to sprinkle on the tops of the zucchini loaves before baking for a bit of texture. Avoid over mixing the batter, it should be thick and moist, not unlike a butter cream frosting.
Divide the batter equally between the two loaf pans. Make sure it is level in the pans, by running a spatula over the top of each loaf. Bake for about 40-45 minutes on a middle oven rack. I like to under bake my zucchini bread ever so slightly to ensure it stays moist. Keep in mind it will continue to cook even after it is removed from the oven as it is cooling. Remove from the oven and cool the zucchini bread in pan for about ten minutes. Turn out onto wire racks to finish cooling – if you leave them in their pans, they will get sweaty and moist (not in a good way) as they cool.

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