I visited my family this past weekend, and was thrilled to find my mom’s gardens overflowing with fresh produce. Ever since my parents built their new house last year, they’ve been constantly working on the yard, landscaping and creating beautiful gardens. Most of the time when I am home they are out in the gardens pulling weeds, watering, mowing the lawn or planting new plants. My mom seems to have inherited my grandpa’s green thumb, because this summer there’s been tremendous growth in their newly installed gardens, tomato plants growing so tall and wide they they simply can’t support themselves, and cucumber plants in a race against themselves to see how much ground they can cover in one season. It’s all quite ridiculous, when you look at the tomato plants and try to envision my family of three at home eating dozens upon dozens of tomatoes to keep up with the crop, or finding a use for zucchinis that are nearly the size of a newborn child. Lucky for them (well lucky for ME), I was home and put some of those fresh garden goodies to use!
I went home with Zucchini Bread on the brain, and when I discovered the plethora of overgrown green squash, I knew they were destined to make my bread! I found a great recipe from Smitten Kitchen and went with it, creating two mouthwatering loaves which I promptly doused with crunchy lemon glaze (inspired by Lottie and Doof) as soon as they came out of the oven. That was a fantastic idea, if I do say so myself.
The bread came out well – I thought at first I’d overcooked it (which I still think I may have), but after a few bites realized that the texture of the bread simply isn’t consistent to me with what zucchini bread usually is, so I was a bit thrown off. In the past, I’ve made zucchini bread that is low in flavor, but high in moisture. I’ve never really made any that has completely wow’ed me, but I’ve made some acceptable loaves here and there (the addition of chocolate ALWAYS helps). But this bread had a flavor and texture much more consistent in my mind with a spice cake – far more flavorful than any zucchini bread I’ve ever made. The walnuts added a great crunch, and the lemon glaze was also a fun play on flavors and textures.
I think if I made this again, I may add another 1/2 cup or so of shredded zucchini, and check it 5 minutes sooner just to ensure it’s extra soft and perfectly cooked. Still, toasted with a bit of butter (or smeared with some cream cheese as my grandma taught me to have it), this bread is no slouch. It kept well too – not really drying out much over the few days that it lasted.
Adapted from several sources
Yield: 2 loaves or approximately 24 muffins
1 cup olive or vegetable oil (I used 1/2 cup each olive oil and canola oil)
1 3/4 cups sugar (I used 1 1/4 cupes sugar, and 1/2 cup brown sugar)
2 cups grated zucchini
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 cups all-purpose flour (I used 2 cups mixed wheat/white flour and 1 cup whole wheat pastry flour)
3 teaspoons cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup chopped walnuts or pecans (optional) (I used 3/4 cup)
1 cup dried cranberries, raisins or chocolate chips or a combination thereof (optional) I(I used 1/3 cup golden raisins)
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 cup confectioners’ sugar
Preheat oven to 350°F.
1) Grease and flour two 8×4 inch loaf pans, liberally. Alternately, line 24 muffin cups with paper liners.
2) In a large bowl, beat the eggs with a whisk. Mix in oil and sugar, then zucchini and vanilla.
3) Combine flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking soda, baking powder and salt, as well as nuts, chocolate chips and/or dried fruit, if using.
4) Stir this into the egg mixture. Divide the batter into prepared pans.
5) Bake loaves for 60 minutes, plus or minus ten, or until a tester inserted into the center comes out clean. Muffins will bake far more quickly, approximately 20 to 25 minutes.
6) While the cake is baking, prepare the glaze. In a medium bowl, whisk together the lemon juice and granulated sugar, then whisk in the confectioners’ sugar until the glaze is completely smooth.
7) Allow the cakes to cool in the pans for 10 minutes, then carefully invert them onto a wire rack. Using a pastry brush, immediately brush the glaze over the entire surface of the warm cake, using all of the glaze; it will adhere to the cake and set as the cake cools. Allow the cake to cool completely and the glaze to dry before slicing and serving.