I have all of my ingredients prepped and measured to make loaves of zucchini bread... seems like a perfect thing to do on a late September day. The colors of the ingredients even look like autumn. I found a recipe on one of my favorite recipe blogs, 101 cookbooks, which I highly recommend for nutritious recipes. (Thank you to my daughter, Lisa, for suggesting that I check out the blog.) This particular recipe needed a little "cleaning up", so I substituted 1/2 cup maple syrup for the 1 ½ cups sugar and added in dried cranberries for some additional natural sweetness. The recipe calls for 1/2 cup finely chopped crystallized ginger so that provides some sweetness, too. I used pureed prunes and applesauce instead of 1/2 cup butter. To pump up the nutrition and vary the texture as well as the visual appeal, I threw in some raw sunnies in place of some of the walnuts.
This is what crystallized (candied) ginger looks like, so you know what to look for.
I draped unbleached parchment paper inside four little bread pans then scooped the batter into them. The paper makes post-baking removal a cinch. You wouldn't need to leave as much overhang as I did... kinda ridiculous.
This zucchini bread is seriously... I mean seriously yummy. You'd never believe that it has no butter, oil, or sugar. The subtle little bursts of candied ginger, the sweet chewiness of the dried cranberries, and the crunch of the walnuts and sunflower seeds makes a perfect mix of flavors and texture.
Autumn Zucchini Bread
½ cup unsalted butter (I substituted *¼ cup baby food prunes + ¼ cup unsweetened applesauce.) 1 ½ cups sugar (I substituted ½ cup pure maple syrup.) 3 eggs (I reduced to 2 eggs because of the extra liquid from the pureed prunes and applesauce.)
2 tsp vanilla
1 ½ cups chopped walnuts, plus a few to sprinkle on top (I substituted ½ cup walnuts, ½ cup raw sunflower seeds, and ½ cup dried cranberries.)
1/3 cup poppy seeds (optional)
zest of two lemons (optional)
½ cup crystallized ginger, finely chopped
3 cups grated zucchini (about 3 medium) skins on (If the shredded zucchini is overly juicy, you can squeeze some of the liquid out then refluff.)
3 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1 ½ tsp baking soda
½ tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt (I reduced to ½ tsp salt.)
1 tsp cinnamon
Needed: Two 4 X 8 loaf pans or four 3 ½ X 6 inch loaf pans.
Preheat oven to 350°. Line the pans with unbleached parchment paper leaving a couple inches overhang on each long side to lift bread out easily after baking. In a large bowl, or the bowl of a mixer, combine the prunes, applesauce, maple syrup, eggs, and vanilla. Gently mix or stir in walnuts, sunnies, dried cranberries, poppy seeds and lemon zest (if using), crystallized ginger, and zucchini. In a separate bowl. whisk together whole wheat pastry flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon. Add dry ingredients to wet, mixing just until combined. Do not overmix. Divide the batter equally among the loaf pans. You can sprinkle a few chopped walnuts on top before baking for added texture and visual appeal, if you like. Bake for 40-45 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool in the pans on a wire rack for about 10 minutes. To finish cooling on the wire rack, take loaves out of pans and remove parchment paper to prevent soggy bottoms. Makes 2 -4 loaves depending upon size of pans. *A tiny jar of baby food prunes = ¼ cup.
I wrapped one loaf for my friend Debbie, whose birthday is today. The acorns are plunking like raindrops onto the walkway between our railroad car tearoom and the backporch, so I snatched one to tie onto the top for an autumn touch. (A helpful hint: I removed the loaf from the pan to cool on a wire rack and peeled the paper off after a little bit so it could cool completely and not get soggy. When the loaf was cool, I wrapped a fresh piece of parchment paper around it and placed it into a clean foil pan.) Deb and I celebrate our birthdays together each year since they are 4 days apart, so we are meeting up tomorrow. I am preparing lunch. Besides the homemade zucchini bread, I'm giving her three waffle-weave dishcloths housed in a retro looking box, a dozen free-range chicken eggs with deep orange nutrient-packed yolks, and a pound of locally-raised ground buffalo. I'm thinking that she hasn't tried buffalo before.