Zucchini Parmesan Bread
Here we are in July, and it feels like spring outside–low 80s, a light breeze, and tomato plants just starting to flower. Despite the lack of tomatoes, there are some plants in the garden that love this weird summer weather and none more so than the zucchini. I’m only allowed to have one plant each summer now after inundating us with green baseball bats a few years back. Still, just one plant is producing an awful lot of squash. So I’m on my annual quest for recipes to use them up. I’ve already done the usual lightly sauteed zucchini with almonds and parmesan, and a very moist zucchini-walnut cake with Meyer lemon. I’ve put shreds in my pasta sauce, coins in my stir-fries, and half-moons in my salads. I do love zucchini–especially the way it grows rampantly without much attention–but it requires some creativity to use up. So I turned to my bookshelf.
I’ve probably mentioned before that I’m a bit of a cookbook collector. I try really hard not to keep buying food books I don’t need, but I always need another one (or four). I’ve really been trying to improve my photography skills, so I bought Plate to Pixel: Digital Food Photography and Styling. And then I lost my camera. Somehow between leaving the hotel for a wedding and getting to Sonoma, I misplaced it, with a card full of photos of my daughter (fortunately already downloaded). All psyched up to be a better, smarter, faster photographer, my excitement was squashed.
Luckily, my friend Sarah (the Undercover Caterer) came to the rescue with a cute little Lumix point and shoot that I could borrow. Now, I don’t know her camera much better than I knew my own, but I like it. I’ll be researching dSLRs, though, to try to upgrade my abilities. In the meantime, I’ll be reading Plate to Pixel to try to jump-start my memories of studying photography in the dark ages of the 80s (with film!). This whole tangent is to explain why I haven’t posted for a bit, but will now hopefully be back in the game.
So…on to zucchini bread. I wasn’t much in the mood for another sweet quick bread, but I also didn’t want to deal with yeast baking right now. I remembered a book that I found twenty-some years ago when I lived in a shared house in DC. It’s called The Bread Winners Cookbook, and it was published in 1979. I found it in the basement of that house, shoved in the back of a forgotten closet, along with some other great books like the Moosewood cookbooks and a community spiral-bound book from Texas. It was one of the first cookbooks I used a lot, working my way through Banana Quick Bread and homemade Pizza Dough to New Mexican Spoon Bread and something I’d never heard of before (in 1989) called Indian Puris. It’s a great collection of recipes from accomplished home bakers and I’ve never been disappointed by the results. It does have a little 70s granola-wheat germ quality to many of the recipes, but that’s just fine by me.
Having rejected all the recipes I found in other baking books, I settled on the Zucchini Parmesan Bread. It apparently came originally from a book called Eggplant and Squash: A Versatile Feast (1976)–which sounds like something I could use. The recipe includes some honey, but also has grated onion and sounded like a good combination of flavors. Since I can’t actually follow a recipe exactly as it’s written, I made a few changes along the way and it still turned out quite deliciously. We’ve already almost finished eating it, so I’ll need to make another zucchini recipe soon. Perhaps a lasagna from my cookbook, using long strips of squash instead of noodles? I’ll let you know how it turns out.
Zucchini Parmesan Bread
adapted from The Bread Winners Cookbook
Makes 1 loaf
3 cups whole wheat flour [I used all-purpose plus 1/4 cup oat bran]
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese, plus extra for garnish
5 teaspoons baking powder [this is correct; it's a dense batter]
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 medium zucchini, shredded [I used 2 cups, patted dry]
1 cup buttermilk, at room temperature [I used 2% milk plus 1 tablespoon vinegar]
1/4 cup honey
6 tablespoons butter, melted
2 eggs, beaten
3 tablespoons grated onion
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Butter a 9 x 5-inch loaf pan [I used a 6 x 3-inch round cake pan plus 1 mini loaf pan]. In a bowl, mix the flour, cheese, baking powder, baking soda, slat, and shredded zucchini.
In a separate bowl, mix the buttermilk, honey, melted butter, eggs, and onion until smooth. Then add the liquid mixture to the dry ingredients all at once and mix until just blended.
The batter should be somewhat dry. Spread in the loaf pan [I smoothed the top with a spatula] and sprinkle extra cheese on top. Bake for about 1 hour [28 minutes for the mini loaf], until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean and the bread pulls away from the sides of the pan.
Let cool in the pan for 5 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack to cool thoroughly before slicing. Store in a zip-top recloseable bag.