zucchini bread, to sleep

May 26, 2009

 

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Thank you, thank you, thank you, for a Tuesday afternoon at home. There' s really something heavenly about being the only one in the house when the light is just softening—surprising the dog with the turn of a key, not generally heard until well after six.

It really does feel like a vacation, stealing away just past midday. Actually, it felt like I was playing hooky: a combination of guilt and gusto that ended in pure self-satisfaction. The afternoon light is especially remarkable during the weekdays, I think. If I' m ever home on a Saturday or Sunday afternoon, I' ll forget to notice how the sun turns from midday to evening. Taking time for granted is part of the luxury of those two days.

But to have a Tuesday, private, quiet, lost in my thoughts and with the soft silver sun on the dining room table—it was enough to make me wonder, “What food shall I use to commemorate this moment?”Well actually, I' d known all along. I' d been thinking of some dense, hearty slices as I rounded the corner from the final intersection home; I' d been imagining some sweet almond flavor as I pulled into the driveway; I' d been envisioning myself biting into a slivered almond as I opened the door and stepped over the threshold. I was thinking of freshly baked zucchini bread, made the night before.

I settled down with my napkin, bread lot and a cup of mint tea. I sipped and stared out the window at the wood fence, enjoying this silent, private thrill. It was absolutely invigorating to be so quiet: until, of course, I felt asleep. Yes sir, I did. Right on the big brown couch in the living room, right in front of the picture window, where tourists on their way to the museum could peep in and see me…another private thrill. And all the while, I drooled on the throw pillows and dreamed of zucchini bread. Yes sir, I did.

I' ve been making a variety of healthy breads for an ice cream shop that will be opening here in Houston. This trial loaf was zucchini almond, and because I can' t help myself, and want everyone to have a piece of late-afternoon delight (with or without the being at home part) I' m sharing the recipe. Remarkably, it' s made with wheat flour—though not entirely—and has very little fat. A good thing, too, because I ate most of the loaf.

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Zucchini Almond Bread

2 grated zucchini, or enough for two cups
¾ c white flour
¼ c whole wheat flour
1.5 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp salt
¾ c white sugar
1 tsp almond extract
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 bananas, mashed completely (or 1 c worth)
2 eggs, beaten
¼ cup slivered almonds, divided

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Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease a 9×5 inch bread pan.

Grate and drain (squeezing by hand over a sink) 2 cups-worth of zucchini.

In a large bowl, mix flour, baking soda, baking powder and cinnamon.

In an even larger bowl, mix salt, vanilla, almond, eggs, sugar and bananas.

Slowly add dry mixture to wet, being careful not to over-blend.

Add zucchini and half of the almonds, stirring until just incorporated.

Pour into baking dish; sprinkle remaining almonds on top and bake for 45 minutes or so.

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Serves 8.

15 minutes active time; 45 minutes to bake.

This bread will be moist and dense. If you find it too wet, leave it in for 50-55 minutes—the bananas tend to slow the cooking time. If you' d prefer a full-fat loaf, replace the bananas with canola oil. You can also use grated apples or carrots in place of zucchini, and substitute whatever spices or nuts you prefer. Use more baking powder when dealing with wet mix-ins like apple and zucchini.

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