02 September 2009

slinging hash: zucchini bread

When I was writing my dissertation, I worked for an academic think tank that ran a yearly seminar, where literary technology geeks gathered from around the globe to learn about textual analysis and computer encoding for humanities texts.

One of my responsibilities was planning this seminar, and the most fun part of the job was working with the caterers to plan the meals. The caterer was Main Street Eatery, in Kingston, New Jersey, and I am pleased to learn that they are still in business, because all of their food was very good.

My favorite item on their menu, or at least the one that compelled me to buy their cookbook, was the zucchini bread.

I don't much go in for quick breads, or muffins, because I generally I find them too heavy or sweet, too filled with stuff, or all of the above. But I adored this zucchini bread. It's not too sweet thanks to generous amounts of nutmeg and cinnamon. Once on a whim — because I am notorious for risk-taking — I decided to add black pepper, whose pungency adds just a touch of heat, and complements the warmth of nutmeg and cinnamon. The bread also has a light, moist crumb. I think this has something to do with the zucchini, and the fact that the batter calls for oil, rather than butter, but don't quote me on that.

Almost 20 years later I still make this bread every summer. It comes together very quickly, in one bowl, because you can sift the dry ingredients right into the batter, and there is no butter to cream. The zucchini melts into the bread, making it especially tender, and it keeps very well.

But shelf life is not an issue for me, because the very best thing about this zucchini bread, aside from it being so good, is that all three of my children not only eat it, but beg for it, and that, is a rare thing indeed.

Zucchini Bread

adapted from Fresh Approach, Recipe, Menu and Home Entertaining Diary, Main Street Eatery

Makes 2 loaves

2 cups grated zucchini
1 cup oil
1-1/2 cups sugar
2 eggs, well beaten
2 teaspoons vanilla
3 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg, grated
1/8 teaspoon black pepper

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Lightly grease 2 5 x 9 loaf pans

Beat the zucchini, oil and sugar together.
Stir in the egg and vanilla.
Sift and add the dry ingredients

Bake at 350 for 50 minutes, until a cake tester comes out clean, turning the pans at the halfway mark.

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