Saturday, August 22, 2009

Things to do when you're drowning in zucchini, part two

There is a second part to my plan of attack against the onslaught of zucchinis, another way to use them up, without really making me feel like I'm eating the same thing, all the time, every day. Aside from canning- which is essentially a procrastinator's way of eating zucchini- there is one other little trick. Hide it in a dessert of course! When I worked as a baker, the one certainty with which I began every morning was that I would need to bake at least twice the amount of zucchini muffins as any other kind. Always. People love zucchini desserts. Perhaps we think they're more healthy?

In any case, the thought of zucchini desserts led me immediately to one taste-memory: Janet's zucchini bread. Janet has been my next door neighbor for over twenty years and, when we were growing up, her daughter and I were best friends. We even built a little brick pathway between our houses so we could run back and forth without having to go all the way around the driveways. Every year, without fail, Janet makes zucchini bread for Christmas and passes out loaves to all the neighbors as gifts. I never ate it as a child, but now, having grown out of that silliness, I adore it.

This morning, when I woke up- with zucchini on my mind- I decided to call my dear neighbor and finally get the recipe after all these years. I always knew that this recipe was special; Janet's zucchini bread is sweet and moist and slightly fragrant and...just perfect in a way that I could never before identify. Now that I've got my little paws on the secrets, I get it. You'll see the tricks below. The holidays come early this year!

Janet's Zucchini Bread

Makes 2 9x5" loaves
  • 5 eggs, beaten
  • 1/8 cup oil
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 3 cups shredded zucchini, packed
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon grated lemon peel
  • 3/4 teaspoon orange extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 3/4 cup unbleached, all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ginger
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder
  • 3/4 cup chopped nuts (Janet uses untoasted walnuts)
  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees, and grease and flour 2 large or 3 small loaf pans.
  2. In a small bowl, combine eggs, oil, and sugar, and beat well. Then mix in zucchini, lemon peel, and extracts.
  3. In another, larger bowl, mix all of the dry ingredients except the nuts.
  4. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir gently to combine. Add nuts when all is mixed.
  5. Pour batter into pans and bake for approximately one hour, until loaves are set and a knife inserted in the center of each loaf comes out clean.

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