Wednesday, September 15, 2010

21 Weeks, and What's In the Oven: It's A ... Zucchini Bread!

Actually, according to the results of my scan today, the answer to the question "what's in the oven" is ... a healthy baby!  Things seem to be going well, and somehow, despite my indulgences this summer, I'm not even gaining too much weight.  My midwife seemed pretty pleased with progress overall.

OK, ok.  Do you want to know?  It's a girl!  But really, the healthy part is the most important.  (Aside: I confess, though I'm excited, I'm a little daunted by the idea of a girl.  I love the idea of a little person who might enjoy something like this, but I also know, first hand, that mother-daughter relationships are fraught with complication.  Oh, Bean.  I should start your therapy jar now.)

And there was zucchini bread in the oven.

We've been getting a steady stream of it now for a few weeks, between our garden and the CSA share, but somehow I don't tire of grilled zucchini and zucchini in baked things and stuffed zucchini and zucchini soup (you get the idea) in the same way I tire of ... say ... chard.

Heidi Swanson suggests that the reason zucchini bread is so popular is simply because it uses up zucchini.  And the recipes that seem to get passed down through the ages are the ones that use up the most zucchini.  You'll notice, she says, that most recipes make two loaves.  Why?  Because if you only made one loaf, you'd only use up 1 1/2 cups of zucchini.  Seems logical to me, but then, why put so much time into a crop that you turn into quick bread, at your wits' end?

Zucchini Bread

1 1/2 cups chopped walnuts, plus a few to sprinkle on top
zest of two lemons
1/2 cup crystallized ginger, finely chopped (optional)

1/2 cup unsalted butter
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup fine grain natural cane sugar or 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 flour (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 (5 x 9 inches), 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, 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, cinnamon. Add these dry ingredients to the wet ingredients in two batches, stirring between each addition. By hand, fold in the walnut, lemon zest, and crystalized ginger mixture. Save a bit of this to sprinkle on the tops of the zucchini loaves before baking for a bit of texture. Avoid over mixing the batter, it should be thick and moist, not unlike a butter cream frosting.

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. Remove from the oven and cool the zucchini bread in pan for about ten 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.
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  1. Zucchini bread - and a girl! - sounds like a wonderful thing to have in the oven. :-)

  2. Congratulations on your little girl! (As though I wouldn't be writing the same sentiment if your Bean were a boy. :)) I felt a bit of concern about becoming the mother of a daughter when I was pregnant with Violet. Some days, when she's expressing her passion for shoe shopping (which started at age 3 for her and has not yet kicked in for me!), I still feel like maybe I was meant to mother boys. ;) But the vast majority of the time I'm quite aware I'm mothering my very specific Violet, and not the unknown-to-me generic little girl I might have envisioned during pregnancy, and that makes all the difference.

  3. Wow so happy the baby is doing well and congratulations on having a GIRL!!! I know it does not matter as long as she is healthy but I found that once I knew what we were having it made it all seem more real somehow.

    I don't know how you do it, but everything you post looks so yummy. This picture makes me want to go bake zucchini bread!

  4. healthy is so GREAT and a little girl will be really fun! congratulations!

  5. You are going to love love love having a little girl. I thought the same thing when I was preggo with babe, seriously soul mates you and I and she was just the one thing I never knew I always needed.

  6. Hurrah for a healthy baby girl! Love the dollhouses :)

    Zucchini bread...mmmmm...would freeze well, I would expect? Hence making of extra loaves would be essential.

    I had a good look at 101 Cookbooks the other day, thank you for the link - awesome site! I am pretty sure I saw an excellent zucchini pickle recipe there that I am going to try in a few months.


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