Chocolate Zucchini Bread

Mike has quite the garden going this summer, growing tomatoes, beans, squash, and zucchini in the best spot in our backyard. And because you can only grill so much zucchini, I decided to grate some and mix it into this chocolate bread.

The recipe below is adapted from King Arthur Flour’s Double Chocolate Zucchini Bread, which is simple to make and smells delicious when baking. I strongly recommend shredding your zucchini in a food processor rather than grating it by hand to save time, but you could hand-grate if you like. Also, if you add your vegetable oil before you add your honey, you can use the same measuring cup and the honey will slide right out because of the residual oil on the sides of the measuring cup. Very convenient!

Ingredients

  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/3 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 2/3 cups flour
  • 2 cups shredded, unpeeled zucchini, gently pressed to release some of the liquid
  • 1 cup chocolate chips

Preparation

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Lightly grease an 8 x 4 loaf pan.

In a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the eggs, oil, honey, brown sugar, and vanilla until smooth.

Add the salt, baking soda, baking powder, cocoa, and flour, mixing until well-combined.

Stir in zucchini and chocolate chips.

Pour batter into the loaf pan and bake for 60-70 minutes, until a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean or with a light smear of melted chocolate chips.

Cool in pan for 15 minutes, then turn onto a wire rack to cool completely.

Wrap well and store at room temperature for 2-3 days.

Cinnamon Bread

A few nights ago I really wanted to make a quick cinnamon bread, so I adapted a muffin recipe from my trusty Better Homes & Gardens Cookbook into a loaf. It turned out pretty well, though I’ll fully admit that this bread was best on the evening it was baked, and the morning after. It dried out quicker than I expected, but hey, live and learn.

To adapt a muffin recipe into a quick bread, you’ll need a longer baking time at a lower temperature. For example, as muffins, this recipe bakes at 400 for 20 minutes, but as quick bread, it bakes at 375 for about 35-40 minutes. Make sure to keep an eye on your bread to ensure that it doesn’t over-brown; I covered my loaf after about 25 minutes of baking to make sure it didn’t burn.

 Ingredients

  • 1 3/4 cups flour
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract

Preparation

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Lightly grease an 8 x 4 loaf pan.

In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon. Make a well in the center.

In a medium bowl, combine egg, milk, vegetable oil, and vanilla extract; pour into the well in the dry mixture and stir until just moistened. The batter will be lumpy, but that’s fine – you don’t want to over-mix.

Spoon batter into loaf pan and bake for 35-40 minutes, checking around 25 minutes to make sure your loaf isn’t browning too much. The bread will be done when a cake tester inserted in the center comes out with a few moist crumbs.

This bread can be served warm, but if you prefer to cool it, allow it to cool in the pan for about 10 minutes then turn it out onto a wire rack to cool completely. Store at room temperature for 1-2 days.

Pecan Oat Muffins

My Better Homes & Gardens cookbook (the one with the red and white plaid cover) has a great basic muffin recipe that you can easily enhance with different mix-ins and flavors. I used that recipe as the basis for today’s pecan oat muffins, and I may have gone a bit overboard with the pecans.

The next time I make these, I’ll probably scale back my pecan quantity in the batter to 1/4 cup instead of the 1/2 cup I used today. While they are very tasty, they didn’t rise as much as I wanted them to, probably because the pecans weighed down the batter – so they’re a bit on the heavy side. No worries! This is one of the things that I love most about baking – the trial and error, which leads to great ideas for next time.

Ingredients

For the pecan oat streusel

  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 3 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon allspice
  • 3 tablespoons chopped pecans
  • 2 tablespoons rolled (old-fashioned) oats

For the muffins

  • 1 1/3 cups flour
  • 3/4 cups rolled (old-fashioned) oats
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon allspice
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup cooking oil
  • 1/2 cup pecans, finely chopped

For the drizzle

  • 1 1/4 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon allspice
  • 2 – 2 1/2 teapoons water

Preparation

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line two muffin tins with paper liners; this recipe yields 18 muffins.

Make the streusel: in a medium bowl, combine flour, brown sugar, cinnamon, and allspice. Cut in butter until the mixture looks like coarse crumbs; stir in pecans and oats; set aside.

For the muffins: in a large bowl, stir together flour, oats, sugar, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and allspice. Make a well in the center.

In a small bowl, whisk together egg, milk, and cooking oil. Pour into the well in the dry mixture and stir until just combined, then add pecans and stir until no dry streaks remain.

Using a two-inch cookie scoop, drop scoops of batter into prepared pans, filling about 2/3 to 3/4 full.

Divide streusel mixture among the muffins; I used very generous teaspoonfuls.

Bake for 16-20 minutes, until a cake tester comes out clean. Remove muffins from tins and cool completely on a wire rack.

To make the drizzle, combine powdered sugar, cinnamon, and allspice. Add water, one-half teaspoon at a time, mixing well until you reach a medium-thick drizzle consistency. Pour drizzle into a zip-top bag, snip off a corner, and pipe drizzle over muffins.

Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to three days.

Pumpkin Pecan Streusel Bread

I need to write one blog post that lists everything you can do with different quantities of leftover pumpkin. Earlier this week I made ginger pumpkin bread, and I had about 1 cup of pumpkin puree left over. This pumpkin pecan streusel bread offered a great way to use it in a Lent-approved treat (I’ve given up cookies and cake).

I love streusel on quick breads, and it’s very easy to make, but you could certainly leave it out if you wish. Next time I make this bread, I might forgo the streusel and chop the pecans finely, then mix them into the batter. Don’t skip the allspice drizzle, though – it adds a nice flavor and texture to the top of the bread. If you don’t have allspice, a cinnamon drizzle would be just fine.

Ingredients

For the streusel topping

  • 4 tablespoons flour
  • 3 tablespoons light brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 3 tablespoons cold butter, cubed
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans

For the bread

  • 1 2/3 cups flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, plus an extra dash if you like
  • 1/2 teaspoon allspice
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 8 tablespoons melted butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree

For the allspice drizzle

  • 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon allspice
  • 2-3 teaspoons water

Preparation

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease an 8 x 4 loaf pan or spray with baking spray.

Make the streusel: in a small bowl combine flour, brown sugar, and cinnamon. Using a pastry cutter or two knives, cut in the butter until the mixture looks like coarse crumbs. Stir in pecans; set aside.

Make the bread: In a large bowl combine flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, allspice, and nutmeg.

In a separate, medium-sized bowl whisk melted butter, eggs, and pumpkin puree until well-combined.

Add pumpkin mixture to dry mixture and stir to incorporate so that no dry streaks remain.

Spoon about half the batter into the loaf pan, spreading evenly with a rubber spatula. Pour about half the streusel mix over the first layer, then carefully top with remaining batter. I use a spoon to sort of “float” the rest of the batter on top of the first streusel layer in blobs, then spread the blobs together/out with a rubber spatula. Top with remaining streusel.

Bake for 45-60 minutes, or until a cake tester comes out clean. Remove from oven and cool in loaf pan for about 30 minutes, then remove from pan and place on a wire rack.

Cool another 15 minutes, then make the drizzle: in a small bowl, combine powdered sugar and allspice. Add water 1 teaspoon at a time, stirring until you have a smooth, thick drizzle. Pour drizzle into a medium-sized zip-top bag; snip the corner, then pipe drizzle over top of bread.

Allow to cool completely before serving; store well-wrapped at room temperature for up to 4 days.

Ginger Pumpkin Bread

ginger-pumpkin-breadPumpkin isn’t just for fall, you know. The availability of canned pumpkin puree makes pumpkin-themed baking a year-round endeavor for me. Take this ginger pumpkin bread, for example.

This recipe is adapted from one I found in the Better Homes & Gardens Baking Book, for ginger pumpkin muffins. I didn’t feel like making muffins today, so I turned the recipe into a quick bread, which required just a few adjustments. According to the folks at Cooks Illustrated, you can convert most muffin recipes into quick breads by lowering the baking temperature by 50 degrees and extending the baking time to about 60-70 minutes. I did just that for my bread, and it turned out very well – the ginger and pumpkin balance each other very well, and the streusel adds a nice crunch to the top.

Ingredients

For the bread

  • 2 cups flour
  • 2/3 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup pumpkin puree
  • 8 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1/2 cup sour milk*
  • 2 eggs

*To make sour milk, place 1/2 tablespoon vinegar in a glass measuring cup and add enough milk to equal 1/2 cup total. Stir; let stand for 5 minutes before using. 

For the streusel

  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 2 tablespoons light brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons butter, cut into small cubes
  • 3 tablespoons chopped pecans

For the drizzle

  • 1 1/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon ginger
  • 2 teaspoons water

Preparation

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease an 8 x 4 loaf pan or spray with baking spray.

In a large bowl, combine flour, brown sugar, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, ginger, and salt.

In a medium bowl, combine pumpkin, melted butter, eggs, and sour milk; mix until well-combined, then add all at once to the dry mixture, stirring until no streaks of dry ingredients remain.

Make the streusel: in a small bowl, combine the flour and brown sugar, then cut in butter until the mixture looks like coarse crumbs. Stir in pecans.

Pour batter into prepared loaf pan and top with streusel.

Place loaf pan on a rimmed baking sheet and bake for 40 minutes, then add a foil tent to the top to prevent the streusel from burning. Bake another 20 minutes and check to see if the bread is done by carefully inserting a cake tester into the center of the loaf. The cake tester should come out with just a few moist crumbs when the bread is done; if necessary, bake another 7-10 minutes.

Remove from oven and allow to cool in the loaf pan for about 30 minutes, then gently run an offset spatula around the edge of the loaf and remove it to a wire rack to cool for another 20 minutes.

Make the drizzle: combine powdered sugar, cinnamon, and ginger in a small bowl and add 1 teaspoon of water at a time until you reach a thick drizzling consistency. Pour drizzle into a small zip-top bag, snip off the end, and pipe drizzle onto bread while it’s still warm.

Allow to cool completely before serving.

Cornbread

cornbreadMike made an enormous pot of chili today and asked that I bake him some homemade cornbread to go along with it. I’ve probably made homemade cornbread a million times before, but have never blogged it until today.

Cornbread is actually very easy to make, requiring just a few bowls, a spoon, and a pan. If you’re a beginning baker, I’d actually recommend trying this cornbread recipe, which comes from the Better Homes & Gardens Cookbook but has a bit of a sweet twist. My Aunt Liz always added vanilla extract to cornbread, so that’s what I do as well. Just a few teaspoons adds a nice dimension of sweetness.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup yellow cornmeal
  • 1 cup flour
  • 4 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Preparation

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Lightly grease the bottom and halfway up the sides of an 8 x 8 square pan.

In a large bowl, combine cornmeal, flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt; make a well in the center.

In a large glass measuring cup, combine milk, vegetable oil, eggs, and vanilla extract. Pour all at once into the well in the dry mixture and stir until just combined; batter will be a bit lumpy.

Pour batter into prepared pan and bake for 25 minutes, until top is golden brown. Remove from oven and cool in pan, or serve warm.

Gingerbread

gingerbreadYesterday we put up our Christmas tree, and it seemed appropriate to make gingerbread. Not gingerbread cookies, despite how delicious (and adorable) they are – but actual gingerbread loaves, which I’d never made before.

I found a great gingerbread loaf recipe from Pillsbury and adapted it slightly to include a thicker glaze than the original.  You could leave the loaves plain if you like, but I highly recommend glazing them – although you might not expect it, lemon glaze adds a wonderful dimension of flavor to this rich, spicy bread. It would also be easy to cut this recipe in half to make just one loaf, or to bake the whole recipe in smaller loaf pans to give as gifts (which I’m totally going to do).

Ingredients

For the gingerbread

  • 2 3/4 cups flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 4 teaspoons ginger
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon allspice
  • Generous 1/2 teaspoon cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 12 tablespoons butter, at room temperature
  • 1 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 3/4 cup molasses
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda

For the glaze

  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice

Preparation

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease two 8 x 4 loaf pans (or spray with baking spray).

In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking powder, ginger, cinnamon, allspice, cloves, and set; set aside.

In a mixing bowl, beat butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes, scraping the sides of the bowl well. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each until the mixture is smooth.

In a 4-cup glass measuring cup, combine molasses and boiling water, stirring to combine. Add baking soda and stir; mixture will become foamy.

With the mixer running on low, slowly pour the molasses mixture into the butter mixture, beating until combined. Add flour in three batches, beating until just incorporated after each; stir by hand until well-blended.

Divide batter evenly between the pans and bake for 45-60 minutes, until a cake tester comes out clean; my loaves only needed about 45 minutes.

Cool in pans for about 15 minutes, then turn out onto wire racks to cool completely.

To make the glaze, place powdered sugar in a medium bowl and add lemon juice 1 tablespoon at a time; you want a thicker glaze texture. Pour over loaves, spreading to the edges. Allow glaze to set before serving.