Sunday, July 19, 2009

On the Fence

When I was a kid our neighbors had little gardens that actually produced enough random veggies that my family often received their overflow. The neighbors to the right would bring mounds of rhubarb which my mother would turn into rhubarb pie, but the neighbors behind us had a special policy: Whatever grew threw the chain link fence was ours to keep. This basically amounted to a few tomatoes and a couple zucchini. At the end of the day, they often realized that they still had more than what they knew what to do with, so we'd inevitably end up getting a big bunch of zucchini too. Hello, zucchini bread!

Since the farmers markets and grocery stores are currently overflowing with summer squash, I decided to make my own zucchini bread (plus it's not too crazy hot). I remembered having a recipe (in my little kid handwriting) from my old recipe box, and in fact I found several quick bread recipes. Check out my handwriting style over the years. I particularly like the circles over the 'i's. (And, really? Oleo?)

I figured that there must be a new and improved recipe out there so I consulted some of my cookbooks. Every recipe was pretty much the same except for The Best New Recipe. The main difference is that they have you drain the shredded zucchini. Interesting. A lot of liquid does actually drain out. Anyone thirsty?

So...even though I consider myself a pretty good baker, I overlooked something. (It happens!) The recipe called for 1/4 cup yogurt and I threw in a whole 7-ounce container. Ooops. I didn't notice it until I was writing up the recipe just now. But it helps explain why the center of my bread sank and the bread didn't have a consistent crumb throughout. Oh, well (I think it will be good toasted). I also neglected to weigh my zucchini since I bought it from a farmers market so I guesstimated the amount for the recipe. I was a little out of it I guess. By the way, I recommend using a couple of smaller zucchini rather than one giant one. I think they're a little more tender and you won't have to bother scooping out seeds from the more mature veggies. I think, in addition to just paying more attention, next time I might leave out the lemon juice and add a touch of cinnamon, just because that's how I remember the flavor, while eating it cold for breakfast.

Zucchini Bread
(Adapted from The New Best Recipe)

2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for the pan
1 pound zucchini, washed and dried, ends and stems removed
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup walnuts or pecans, coarsely chopped
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup plain yogurt
2 large eggs, beaten lightly
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled

1. Heat the oven to 375˚F. Grease the bottom and sides of a 9x5-inch loaf pan; dust with flour, tapping out the excess.

2. Shred the zucchini on the large holes of a box grater. Toss with 2 tablespoons of the sugar and place into a fine-mesh strainer set about 2 inches above the bottom of a bowl to drain.

3. Meanwhile, toast the nuts in a medium skillet over medium heat until fragrant, stirring frequently, about 5 minutes. Set aside to cool.

4. In a large bowl add the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt and whisk until combined. Set aside.

5. Whisk together the remaining 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar, the yogurt, eggs, lemon juice, and melted butter in a medium bowl until combined. Set aside.

6. After the zucchini has drained, press between sheets of paper towel to absorb any excess moisture. Stir the zucchini and yogurt mixture into the flour mixture until just moistened. Add the nuts and fold in gently. Scrap the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top with a rubber spatula.

7. Bake until the loaf is golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 55 - 60 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through baking. Cool in the pan for 10 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack to continue cooling for at least one hour before serving.

1 comment:

WendyB said...

We had so much zucchini when I was a kid that we'd have to leave it on the neighbors' stoops in the middle of the night and run away. No one wanted it!