10 May 2011

Spiced Zucchini Bread, definitely not like yo mama's.

Zucchini bread is a wondrous thing.  It heals the soul.  Oh, wait, let me rewind for a sec.

Holy %*(&£**! stress.  I can't believe the shit-storm my friends and I have been going through lately.  So, I recently had a girlfriend over for tea.  We needed to bake and eat and giggle.  Sometimes it's the simple things.  I pulled a few shots of espresso and showed her how Americans roll when life gives us too many courgettes.  We got hopped up on caffeine and ate zucchini bread.  We giggled.  It was fantastic.

To me, zucchini bread is something so indubitably American that I cannot possibly call it "courgette bread".  Yet there I stood in my Scottish kitchen, teaching my Irish friend how to bake something from my American childhood.  The feeling of that moment was kind of awesome.  When times are hard, this is where I find my happiness.  What more do I need out of life than good friends and a veggie-flecked bread that tastes like cake?

The kind I used to make was much simpler than this loaf, made with cinnamon and chopped walnuts.  But upon seeing this recipe, I was immediately intrigued by the allspice, the lemon zest, the almonds.  And I had absolutely every ingredient in my cupboard, which didn't hurt.

Spiced Zucchini Bread with Lemon & Almonds
Adapted from this blogger, who adapted it from a banana bread recipe by Gourmet

1.5 cups grated zucchini
1/2 tsp salt

2 large eggs, at room temperature for 30 minutes
260g (1 cup + 2 tablespoons) granulated sugar
120 ml (1/2 cup) vegetable oil
3 tablespoons plain, wholefat greek yogurt (Such as Fage Total, yum. Greek-style will do in a pinch but bear in mind it will have more moisture to it - you will probably need to add a little more flour in this case.)
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp allspice
1/2 tablespoon lemon zest, about 2 lemons (I used dried, roasted zest to glorious effect)

1 teaspoons baking soda
generous pinch salt
200g (about 1.6 cups) all-purpose flour
1/3 cup sliced almonds

Grate zucchini (courgettes) and toss in a bowl with salt. Transfer to a seive and allow to sit for 15-30 minutes, then rinse and squeeze out water.

Preheat oven to 175°C/350°F. Line one loaf pan with parchment & grease unlined sides with butter or shortening.

Beat eggs and sugar with an electric mixer at medium/high speed in a bowl, until pale yellow and ribbon-y, about 10 minutes. Reduce speed to low and slowly pour oil in a thin stream. Stop mixer, and scrape down the sides. Add yogurt, vanilla, cinnamon, allspice and lemon zest. Mix at medium for 1 minute.

Whisk together flour, baking soda (bicarb) and salt in a medium bowl, then add to egg mixture, stirring with a spoon to incorporate. Don't over-mix, as this will develop the gluten in the flour and make the bread more dense and less cake-like. Fold in grated zucchini and most of the almonds. Pour into loaf pan, level with your mixing spoon and top with reserved almonds.

Bake in center of oven for about 45 minutes. The original recipe I worked from required 1 1/4 hours, which I found completely unnecessary, but I have a fan-assisted oven and everything just cooks fast in there... I'd just keep an eye on it and start testing with a toothpick once you've noticed the centre has stopped jiggling if you shake it.

Cool for 20 minutes on a rack. Turn over and remove bread from pans. Place upright and allow to cool completely, then slice and serve with salted butter, or slathered with cream cheese.

Makes 1 loaf.