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Thursday, September 6, 2007

Mother's Zucchini Bread

Zucchini bread is powerfully associated with feelings of warmth and home. In late summer when the zucchini crop was particularly plentiful and the air was just starting to show some signs of coolness, my mother would pick up zucchini from the local farmer's stands and make zucchini bread. We once shared a warm slice with a young neighborhood boy who eagerly ate the entire piece and then confessed how much he had liked it, despite all the blades of grass he thought my mother had accidentally added. This updated version of my mother's zucchini bread recipe increases the healthfulness of this homey classic without sacrificing any of the taste. The recipe presents a moist crumb that resembles higher fat cake-breads sold at coffee shops, but with dramatically improved nutritional content. This recipe is likely to become a new favorite in your home just in time for late summer's bumper crop of zucchini. This recipe is also my contribution to this week's Weekend Herb Blogging #99, hosted by Thyme for Cooking.

About Zucchini

Zucchini is a late summer squash. Its flowers are also edible, and have recently enjoyed the attention of high end American fusion chefs, such as Mario Batali. These flowers are particularly expensive as they are very difficult to transport. The squash itself is also somewhat difficult to store and transport. Sources recommend not keeping the squash more than three days, and warn that it may be harmed from being stored at low temperatures.

Although this squash has its roots in the Americas, the variety as we know it today is the result of spontaneous mutations of crops transported back to Europe, and likely first appeared in its present form in the late 19th Century in Italy.

The Skinny on Zucchini is that it low in calories and contains good amounts of folate, potassium and vitamin A. Wikipedia that zucchini has high levels of manganese, which "activates the body's fat burning enzymes, resulting in a faster metabolism."

Among home gardeners in temperate climates, zucchini enjoys the reputation as an easy vegetable to cultivate, often yielding more than expected. However, zucchini relies heavily on local pollinators, so recent decline in the bee population may cause trouble for cultivating this squash.


3 eggs, beaten
½ cup oil
½ cup unsweetened applesauce
1.25 cups sugar
1 tsp vanilla
½ tsp almond extract
2-2.25 cups zucchini, coarsely grated
1 cup all purpose flour
¾ cup whole wheat flour
¼ cup raw wheat bran
1.5 tsp ground cinnamon
¼ tsp ground cloves
2 tsp baking soda
¼ tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt

Wash zucchini (approximately 2 medium zucchini) and grate, with skin on. I usually grate by hand, but you can also use a food processor fitted with a shredding attachment. Set aside.

Combine eggs, sugar, oil, applesauce, vanilla and almond extract. In a separate bowl, sift together flour, wheat flour, bran, cinnamon, cloves, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Add dry ingredients to liquids. Stir in zucchini.

Add nuts if desired, I like to use up to ¾ C chopped walnuts.

Spray two full sized loaf pans with Pam and flour (or use well seasoned stoneware pans w/o Pam or flour). Divide the batter evenly. Bake at 350 degrees for one hour.

Makes 2 large regular loaves. 24 servings total.

Nutritional Information (per serving): 123 calories, 4.6 g fat, 0.7 g fiber, 211 mg sodium.


katiez said...

I was just looking for a zucchini bread about 5 hours ago. I like this a lot, and, as I'm going shopping tomorrow I can try to find the wheat bran...
I know I won't be running out of zucchni any time soon....

Katerina said...

I love zucchini bread and your addition of almond extract intrigues me! I will have to try this for my next batch!

The Skinny Gourmet said...

The almond extract and spices adds a sense of sweetness without the cloying sweetness of using too much sugar. I love it better than the sugary kinds that are so terrible for you.

Katie, I get my crude wheat bran in the bulk bins at Whole Foods grocery, but that may not help you over in france. Also, if you really like a hearty flavor, you can lightly toast the wheat bran in a dry skillet for 3 minutes before using.

Kalyn said...

Mmm, zucchini bread is so delicious and this sounds very healthy too!

Robin said...

Loved this! I was out of almond extract so used 1/2 the amount of coconut extract - was really good. Notice I say "was"? It didn't last long around here:). Thanks for sharing this recipe.

Anonymous said...

Zucchini Bread was awesome. Try a spin with Chocolate, substitute 1/2 cup cocao for the wheat bran, eliminate the almond extract, clove and cinnamon, substitute with rum extract.

Nice variation. Enjoy!

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