(Zucchini bread with Pecans, step-by-step photos and recipe in post)
The other day, The Sister told me a neighbor had given her some fresh zucchini, and she didn't know what to do with it all. She told me it's the biggest zucchini she'd ever seen - as big as her arm, she said. I didn't believe her.
Next thing I know, she's handing me a baby-sized zucchini squash. By baby-sized, I don't mean small or mini, I mean literally the size of a small human child. I could have swaddled it in my arms and cooed to it. Not that I would do that... okay, seeing as I shred it up and eat it later, let's say instead of a baby it's a beast. I giant zucchini monster!
For reference, this is the zucchini with a potato:
Here's the zucchini with a banana:
This is the zucchini with my arm (aka, me wrangling the beast):
Slay the Beast, Monkey Boy!
Okay, moving on.
Deciding what to do with it wasn't too difficult, since I figured zucchini bread would probably use up the most zucchini the fastest. Plus, zucchini bread is delicious.
I based my bread (just changed around some of the amounts) off une vie saine's recipe, which I found through Marci Gilbert's post. I found the recipe awhile back, and saved it along with several other zucchini bread recipes - this is what I tend to do. So when I went looking, this time, I just grabbed the first one I had saved, bought some applesauce and pecans, and went to work.
It is amazing how far I made it through this recipe before I realized it was vegan. As I'm stirring together the flax egg (a mixture of ground flax and water, which gels up and acts as an egg replacement), I'm wondering... huh, this is a little unusual... Then it clicked. Applesauce instead of butter or oil, flax instead of egg... vegan zucchini bread. This was actually quite exciting, because I had read over the ingredients and the reason I didn't notice anything strange was because, well, there isn't anything strange! Okay, maybe a flax egg is a little weird, but flax adds a nice savory counter-balance to the sweetness, so I figured it was there for flavor reasons, not dietary ones.
Now, just because it's vegan doesn't mean it's bad (actually, much of what I eat is vegan, I just don't go out of my way to make it that way). So don't go judging this recipe just because it's different. That's recipe-ism, that is. Recism.
While I'm on the subject of misconceived vegan notions, just because something is vegan doesn't mean it's inherently healthy. There are tons of junk foods that fall into the vegan category, and I know all too many vegetarians and vegans whose diets are lacking.
This bread, however, is not lacking.
As I said, I have several recipes for zucchini bread, including more 'normal' recipes, with eggs, all-purpose flour, and sugar. This recipe isn't as light and sweet as those, but is by no means sub-par. It's dense, moist, sweet, and just a little chewy. Plus it's easily customizable for additional fruits, nuts, seeds, or *gasp* chocolate chips!
Alright, I'm done trying to convince you. Time to let the pictures do the talking.
Preheat the oven to 350f.
Whisk (or fork) together 2 TBSP ground flax meal, and 6 TBSP water (this is your flax egg, and can be replaced with a regular large egg if you want) - set the flax egg aside to gel while you prepare the rest of the ingredients.
In a large bowl, stir together 1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour, 1/2 tsp baking powder, 1/2 tsp baking soda, 1/2 tsp kosher salt, and 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon. If you want, you can add additional spices like nutmeg to the mix.
Grate up 1 1/2 cups zucchini - I did half in the food processor, to make a finer mush, and half on a box grater for heartier strands througought the bread. Of course, if you're one of those fancy people with a grater attachement to your food processor, you could do it all right there. Or you can do it all on the box grater.
(Note: if you're now thinking 'grating zucchini? This recipe is far too much effort!' - stop. Zucchini is super easy to grate, and leaves virtually no clean-up as you can just rinse and wipe when you're done.)
(I made so much because I was doing a double batch - did you see the size of that zucchini? There it is in the background, still half left!)
(Note: zucchini have seeds the same way cucumbers do - they're tiny and pale and you hardly notice them. But since my zucchini was so large, when I went to grate it I found that the seeds were quite substantial. Knowing what I love to do with pumpkin and other squash seeds, I rinsed them, dried them, tossed them with a bit of olive oil and salt, and threw them on a baking tray in the oven with the bread. They're lighter and airier than pumpkin seeds, but tasty and crunchy all the same!)
Now add 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce, 1/2 cup maple syrup, and 1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract to your flax egg, and stir until thoroughly combined.
Add wet to dry, and stir.
Now fold in the zucchini, and (optional) 1/2 cup chopped nuts (I used pecans).
Pour into a lightly greased (or sprayed with cooking spray) loaf pan, and top with whatever nuts/seeds you're using. Again, I was doing a double batch. I also had three oddly sized pans - two mini, and one bigger than average. Unfortunately my batter didn't divide very nicely between them, so my loaves were a little flatter than I'd have liked - no biggie.
After baking for 50-60 minutes, I took them out and let them cool for a little bit so I could handle them. After slicing into the first one and discovering how incredibly moist it still was inside (not too moist for me, but possibly for some) I turned out the other two onto a cutting board (they came out of the pans easily) and put them back in, this time upside down, to dry out the bottoms a little.
With the apple sauce, maple syrup, and mass amounts of zucchini this bread is super moist inside, with just a bit of chew from the denseness of the whole wheat flour. I love the additions of pecans, but other nuts could easily be substituted, or seeds if you're concerned about nut allergies.
Since I love sharing food so much, it's great to be able to make a recipe that will fit everyone's needs. It also freezes well, so can easily be made ahead.
Here's the recipe, in all it's glory:
(Adapted from Marci Gilbert, adapted from Une Vie Saine)
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon (and optionally a pinch of other spices like nutmeg)
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2 TBSP ground flax meal (and 6 TBSP water)
1/2 cup maple syrup (note: this was by no means too sweet, but could, if you want, be reduced by up to half)
1 1/2 cup grated zucchini
Optional: 1/2 cup chopped pecans (or any other additions you might want: oats, cocoa, dried fruit...)
Preheat oven to 350f.
Whisk together flax and room temp. water to make a 'flax egg'. Set aside to gel while you prepare the rest of the ingredients.
Stir together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon (and other spices if you're using them) in a large bowl.
Grate zucchini, by hand or in the food processor.
Add applesauce, maple syrup, and vanilla extract to the flax egg, and stir until thoroughly combined. Pour over the dry ingredients and mix.
Add grated zucchini, and nuts or other additions, and stir together.
Pour into a greased/sprayed loaf pan, and bake for 50-60 minutes.
Let cool for about ten/fifteen minutes, then remove from pans.
Optional: Return to pans upside down, or lay flat on a baking sheet, and bake for an additional 5-10 minutes until the bottoms dry out slightly.
Slice and serve!
Can be completely cooled, wrapped in plastic wrap, and frozen for up to a year (depending on your freezer).
This bread was quick and tasty, but I still have a lot of zucchini left. Although I could probably make another dozen loaves of this stuff and start selling it on the street, I'm already coming up with other uses. Roasted veggies? Grated zucchini salads? So many possibilities!
For breakfast, I cooked up some of Oh She Glow's fantastic (and vegan!) zucchini-bread-oatmeal:
Mmm! And it's one of those cold mornings that make it hard to get out from under the covers, too. Nothing like oatmeal and a cup of hot tea to cure the chills!