Zucchini Bread: the best defense is a good offense
In certain parts of the country this is the time of year when excess zucchini squash become part of a complex military strategy. In fact, I’ve heard that there are places where you have to be careful to lock your car doors, lest the sneaky zucchini find their way into your vehicle. These zucchini are cleverly disguised as gifts from generous neighbors or friends, but we all know better. We know that they are no gifts. There are way too many zucchinis in some states for anyone’s good. The perennial question remains….WHAT DO WE DO WITH ALL THESE SQUASH?
Several years ago, my dear friend and partner-in-homeschooling-crime Anna supplied me with THE quintessential recipe for zucchini bread. I don’t like all zucchini bread recipes out there, but this one is just delicious.
First, a general note on zucchini and other summer squash. For many years now I have successfully grated squash and frozen it in grated form in 4 cup quantities. I don’t blanch it or scald it or do anything but pop it into a ziplock bag and freeze it for later. This means that I can have many potential batches of zucchini bread just waiting in my freezer.
As I learned from Anna, zucchini are not the only squash that can be used in this recipe. I also grate up Patty Pan squash, crookneck squash, or any other summer squash. If the squash has grown huge (as squash in home gardens are wont to do), then I try to scrape out the large seeds before I grate the squash. The larger seeds don’t fare so well in squash bread. Also, I never grate the squash by hand. I send it through the food processor and do vast quantities at one time.
Anna’s Squash Bread
(I know this started as a zucchini bread recipe but it really does work perfectly well with any kind of summer squash, so we MUST call it squash bread. It’s also more likely to count as a vegetable if you consume unseemly amounts of it all the while calling it SQUASH bread.)
- 6 eggs
- 2 c. oil
- 4 c. sugar
- 2 T. vanilla
- 4 c. shredded zucchini or other squash
- 6 c. flour
- 4 t. baking soda
- 2 t. salt
- 1 t. baking powder
- 3 T. cinnamon
- 1 1/2 t. nutmeg (optional. I don’t usually add this.)
- 2 c. nuts
- 2 c. raisins
- 1 can crushed pineapple, drained
Mix all these ingredients together thoroughly in a gigantic bowl. (Really gigantic. And mix it well because it’s easy to end up with pockets of flour or squash that don’t quite get stirred in completely.)
Bake in 5 greased loaf pans at 350° for one hour or until the toothpick or bamboo skewer comes out clean. If your oven runs hot, turn it down to 325°. Don’t over-bake this bread. It gets coarse and sometimes tough if you over-bake it. Cool on racks when you take it out of the oven.
This is a very dense, very heavy loaf of bread. It makes an excellent breakfast food….especially for traveling.
As far as creative embellishments, this recipe just begs for embellishing. I use any kind of nut I have on hand, including pistachios. I also use dried cranberries instead of raisins sometimes. I occasionally add almond extract to substitute for part of the vanilla. Once in awhile, I will throw in a finely chopped apple or unripe pear instead of raisins. It also works to substitute a cup of grated carrots for one of the cups of grated squash. Once in awhile, I will grease the pan and sugar it before pouring the batter into it.
If this recipe is just too enormous for your family, you can neatly divide the recipe in half and it works out well. Don’t forget that once the bread has cooled down, you can wrap it and freeze it. If you wrap it first in a layer of foil, you can pull it out of the plastic wrap and put the foil-wrapped loaf into the oven to heat up when you take it out of the freezer.
One last important note: if there is an ingredient that you don’t like, be it pineapple, raisins, or nuts, you can just leave that ingredient out with no ill effect. Of course, if you leave the zucchini out, then it isn’t actually zucchini bread anymore…