09 August 2011

zucchini bread

Remember how I said I bought zucchinis when I meant to pick up some cucumbers? Well, I figured out what to do with a ton of zucchinis: First, I made zucchini burgers. They were pretty fun, and involved ground flaxseeds, TVP, nutritional yeast, and balsamic vinegar, but didn't use much zucchini. I needed to find something else to make as well...

I pondered this for far too long. So long that I'm surprised the zucchinis hadn't gone bad, or even iffy. I was home, the weather had cooled down and the humidity had dropped, and I pined for a reason to use the oven. Solution: zucchini bread! I'd never made it before, and my trusty copy of Baking Illustrated did not disappoint me.

On a side note: have you ever tried to make something from a cookbook, and were disappointed when yours didn't come out as nicely? Well, how's this for consistency: another blogger that I follow used the same recipe, and our results are nearly identical! Well, except for the fact that her photos are way cooler than mine. But if you can get past that, they look a lot alike, right?

Zucchini Bread
from Baking Illustrated

Makes 1 loaf

2 cups (10 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting pan
1 pound zucchini, washed and dried, ends and stems removed
¾ cup (5¼ ounces) granulated sugar
½ cup walnuts, chopped coarse
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
¼ cup plain yogurt
2 large eggs, beaten lightly
1 tablespoon lemon juice
6 tablespoons (¾ stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled

1. Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 375 degrees. Grease the bottom and sides of a 9 by 5-inch loaf pan; dust with flour, tapping out the excess.

2. In the bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal blade, process the zucchini and 2 tablespoons of the sugar until the zucchini is coarsely shredded, twelve to fifteen 1-second pulses. Transfer the mixture to a fine-mesh strainer set at least 2 inches over a bowl and allow to drain for 30 minutes. Alternatively, you can shred the zucchini (don’t cut into 1-inch pieces) on the large holes of a box grater, toss with the 2 tablespoons of sugar, and drain. (Word to the box grater! So satisfying. For draining, I put the shredded zucchini in a fine-ish mesh strainer over a mixing bowl, then put a piece of plastic wrap on top of the zucchini, and then sat a heavy saucepan on top of it for 30 minutes.)

3. Meanwhile, spread the nuts on a baking sheet and toast until fragrant, 5 to 7 minutes. Transfer the nuts to a cooling rack and cool completely. Transfer the nuts to a large bowl; add the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt, and whisk until combined. Set aside.

4. Whisk together the remaining ½ cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar, yogurt, eggs, lemon juice, and melted butter until combined. Set aside.

5. After the zucchini has drained, squeeze the zucchini with several layers of paper towels to absorb excess moisture. (Yes, there will be more moisture. Liquid, even. Lots of it! Squeeze!!) Stir the zucchini and the yogurt mixture into the flour mixture until just moistened. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the surface with a rubber spatula.

6. Bake until the loaf is golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 55 to 60 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through baking. Cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack and cool for at least 1 hour before serving. (The bread can be wrapped with plastic wrap and stored at room temperature for up to 3 days.)

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