Good, old fashioned, traditional banana bread holds a place near and dear to my heart. Despite my (delicious) attempts to put a “new spin” on it, I hold zero qualms with baking up a batch of the sugar loaded quick bread. And, when left with overripe bananas, that is typically precisely what I do. On those rare occasions that I veer from my standby recipe, I am left with a feeling of guilt, like I’ve stood up an old friend to go hang out with the new, cool kid. Lets be real though, tomorrow I’ll be eating lunch with my said friend again.
Perhaps it is because I never ate it as a child, but zucchini bread does not require the same devotion to tradition that its banana counterpart does. So, when I put zucchini bread on my “to cook this summer” list (3 down, 18 to go…), I did not even ponder a “normal” recipe. Instead I began scouring the internet. My search quickly resulted in several potential options, but noneseemed quite right. But then, I found it. Folks, I had a winner. You can thank Heidi at 101 cookbooks. Then you can thank me for finding it, baking it, and sharing it. I’ll say you’re welcome in advance.
Heidi’s zucchini bread, appropriately titled “My Special Zucchini Bread”, is just that. The bread, while still perhaps truly a cake, is not saturated with the butter and sugar that, all too often, are added in astounding quantities to cover up a lack of true flavor. That means the remaining ingredients—which include not only a whole three cups (!) of shredded zucchini, but also walnuts, poppy seeds, and crystallized sugar—can shine. Texture, in addition to flavor, goes above and beyond here. Who, after all, doesn’t love the light snap of poppy seeds? What about the substantial crunch of walnuts? Or the subtle chew of crystallized ginger? You get the point.
from 101 cookbooks
My Dad and I both agreed, this bread was better the next day. Hot out of the oven, it was delightful, but the ginger flavor was a little too overpowering. By the next morning though the flavors had melded perfectly making the bread at once nutty, spiced, and sweet. If you absolutely cannot wait, consider adding a little less ginger.
Makes 2 loaves
1 1/2 cups chopped walnuts
1/3 cup poppy seeds (optional)
Zest of two lemons (optional)
1/2 cup crystallized ginger, finely chopped (optional)
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar, lightly packed
3 large eggs
2 teaspoons 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 cups whole wheat pastry or all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
Preheat your oven to 350°F. Butter the two loaf pans, dust them with a bit of flour and set aside. Alternately, you can line the pans with a sheet of parchment. If you leave a couple inches hanging over the pan, it makes for easy removal after baking. Just grab the parchment “handles” and lift the zucchini bread right out.
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 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, and cinnamon. 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. Avoid over mixing the batter, it should be thick and moist.
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. Keep in mind it will continue to cook even after it is removed from the oven as it is cooling. (This means you might want to under cook it just ever so slightly!) Remove from the oven and cool the zucchini bread in pans for about 10 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.