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.

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.

Zucchini Bread

zucchini breadIt’s zucchini season, and in my opinion the best way to eat zucchini is to shred it and mix it into quick bread batter with pecans and orange zest. We have a bumper crop of zucchini in our garden this year, and so I suspect I’ll be making many more loaves as the summer goes on.

For this recipe, it’s important to choose a smaller zucchini, which will be more tender, and to shred it finely using the smaller side of your grater so you have (although this sounds strange) a very mushy pile of zucchini shreds instead of strips like shredded cheese. This helps the veggie blend into the batter better, so you’re left with a finer texture when the bread is baked. Next time, I might stir together some orange juice and powdered sugar for a drizzle icing and top that with some toasted pecans.

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup finely shredded, unpeeled zucchini
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 egg
  • zest of 1/2 medium orange
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped pecans

Preparation

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease the bottom and 1/2 inch up the sides of an 8 x 4 loaf pan.

In a medium bowl, combine flour, cinnamon, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and nutmeg; set aside.

In a small bowl, combine sugar, zucchini, vegetable oil, egg, and orange zest; stir to combine, then pour into flour mixture and stir until just combined, until there are no dry streaks remaining. Be careful not to over-mix, as over-mixing can yield a tough texture in the end result. Gently fold in pecans.

Pour into prepared pan and bake for 50-60 minutes, until a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean. Check the bread around 45 minutes and cover if necessary to prevent over-browning.

Cool completely in loaf pan before serving. Store at room temperature.

Zucchini Bread

zucchini breadYes: I am baking with vegetables. People who know me well will be astonished by this, given that until recently I’ve lived a fairly vegetable-free life. My aversion to these nutritional powerhouses began early in life, and I’ve kept most vegetables at arm’s length (or hidden in mashed potatoes, so I don’t really have to taste them) until the last month or so.

You’d think that a kid raised by health and phys ed teachers would eat spinach omelets for breakfast, salads for lunch, and grilled veggies for dinner…but you’d be wrong. I’ve spent most of my life shunning veggies, especially the green ones…and most especially, the leafy green ones. But last month, I committed to improving my overall health and began to work with a health coach (read: my friend and former intern Kate, who is awesome) and she’s helping me figure out ways to sneak vegetables into foods that I already like. Enter zucchini bread.

Skeptical, I was, but curious too. As the bread baked, a lovely cinnamon aroma wafted from my kitchen. Once cool, I cut a slice, then stared it down. I could do this, right? Long ago I adopted an attitude of no fear in my baking, so why should tasting be any different? For the record: this bread tastes amazing. It’s cinnamony and moist and studded with chocolate chips, which makes anything better, really. If all vegetables tasted like this, I’d be the healthiest person in the world.

Ingredients

  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 1/4 cups sugar
  • 3 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 cups grated zucchini
  • 1 cup milk chocolate chips

Preparation

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Spray two 8 x 4 loaf pans with baking spray.

In a large bowl, combine flour, salt, baking soda, baking powder, and cinnamon; set aside.

In a medium bowl, combine eggs, vegetable oil, sugar, and vanilla, mixing well. Add to dry ingredients and stir until well-combined and no dry streaks remain.

Add zucchini and chocolate chips and stir to combine.

Divide batter evenly between loaf pans.

Bake for 60-65 minutes, until a cake tester comes out clean. Cool completely before serving.

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bread

pumpkin choc chip breadPumpkins have appeared everywhere, seemingly overnight. October is prime pumpkin season, and everywhere I look I see them, bins and piles of bright orange squashes. They sit on porches next to mums and bales of hay, waiting to be carved at Halloween. Personally, I prefer my pumpkins un-carved so they can be displayed through Thanksgiving.

We’ve discussed pumpkin at length on this blog, but I continue to be amazed at how many different variations of pumpkin recipes that exist, particularly on the internet. I found this one one another blog, but tweaked it slightly to make it my own (I increased the amount of spices recommended in the original). It’s a rather large recipe, yielding three 8 x 4 loaves; I used foil loaf pans for them instead of using my regular loaf pans so I could give them as gifts. The original author of the recipe reports that they freeze very well, so they could be made ahead of time and given as holiday gifts.

Ingredients

  • 2 1/2 cups white flour
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 3 cups sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 15-ounce can pumpkin puree (not pie filling)
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 4 eggs
  • 2/3 cup water
  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Preparation

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Spray three 8 x 4 loaf pans with baking spray (or regular nonstick spray)

In a very large bowl, mix flours, sugar, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt; set aside.

In a large bowl, stir together pumpkin puree, vegetable oil, eggs, and water until very well blended.

Stir wet ingredients into dry ingredients, mixing well so that no streaks of dry ingredients remain.

Stir in chocolate chips.

Divide batter evenly between three pans; I used a 1/4 cup measuring cup to do this.

Bake for 60 minutes, until a cake tester comes out clean.

Cool on a wire rack in pans; once completely cool, remove from pans and wrap well in plastic wrap and foil (especially if you’re freezing any loaves).

Nut Bread

nut bread

 

 

 

 

 

Food historians speculate that quick breads originated in the United States during the Civil War, when food demands were high and bakers had neither the time nor the patience to wait for dough to rise in the traditional, yeast-based method. Yeast converts sugar into carbon dioxide and ethanol and causes the dough to rise, but quick breads rely on chemical leavening agents like baking soda and baking powder for rising purposes. Baking soda requires an acid, like lemon juice or buttermilk, while baking powder simply needs any liquid to begin its reaction.

Quick breads are versatile, welcoming creativity. This nut bread recipe uses both walnuts and almonds, but you could easily use pecans or hazelnuts. I’ve chosen not to identify nut bread as a “sweet,” since I have another six weeks to go in my mission not to eat treats; I’m thinking of nut bread as more muffin-like, since muffins are essentially quick breads baking in muffin tins.

Ingredients

  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 2/3 cup milk
  • 1 beaten egg
  • 1/4 cup cooking oil
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1/2 cup chopped almonds

Preparation

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Place five miniature loaf pans on a cookie sheet; spray each with cooking spray.

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

In a medium bowl, combine milk, egg, and oil; stir together and add all at once to the well in the center of the flour mixture and stir until just combined.

Fold in nuts.

Divide batter evenly among loaf pans.

Bake for 35 minutes, until tops are just golden and a cake tester comes out clean.

Cool on a wire rack.

Banana Bread

banana bread

 

 

 

 

 

In the 1930s, recipes for banana bread began to appear in American cookbooks. Some culinary historians cite the availability of baking soda and baking powder as the impetus for this treat, while others believe it came simply from the kitchen of an enterprising and thrifty gal who didn’t want her overripe and hard-earned bananas to go to waste. I’d wager that both are the truth, and being a thrifty baker myself, applaud the woman who mashed up her spotty bananas and whipped up the first heavenly-scented loaf of banana bread.

Banana bread is simple, and very easy to make. Being a quick bread, there is no yeast, kneading, or rising time involved; the whole process, from mixing bowl to table, takes about an hour. Banana bread can be served warm but many bakers, myself included, believe that it tastes better after a day or so, when the flavors have had time to settle.

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • generous 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 egg
  • 3 medium very ripe bananas, mashed
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil

Preparation

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Grease an 8x4x2 loaf pan and set aside.

In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, and cinnamon.  Make a well in the center and set aside.

In another medium bowl, combine egg, mashed bananas, sugar, and vegetable oil.

Pour into flour mixture and stir until combined.

Pour into loaf pan and bake for about 50 minutes, until a cake tester comes out clean; check the bread at about 40 minutes to make sure the top isn’t browning too quickly; if it is, make a tent of aluminum foil and cover the bread until it is through baking.

Cool completely in the plan.