Zucchini Bread

Sometimes I wonder if I like bread more than anyone else on this earth.

Then I assure myself I am not, while I indulge in yet another slice of whole wheat toast or banana bread and give the trophies to the founder of La Madeleine’s croissants, Domino’s buttery dough and of course Ms. Cinnabon herself. Breaking bread is crucial for community, and eating bread is necessary for life. The bread choices that we make, however, can give us nutrients or assist our bulging waistlines.

Zucchini bread…ever had it? I had not. But when a cute little farm girl told me about it one day at work, I was thoroughly intrigued. And, apparently, it is common to make when you have an abundance of zucchini squash from your farm…or urban garden. Cha-ching. We don’t have a garden right now, but we do have a great farmer’s market. Check. I was excited about baking one of my favorite veggies into a sweet breakfast bread. Matt–a newish zucchini consumer–was skeptical.

Zucchini Bread
Adapted from Simple Bites
This sweet bread is full of healthy zucchini, moist and delicious for breakfast, snack or dessert. The mild zucchini taste will convert even the most skeptical of squash eaters. For a surprising treat, add semi-sweet chocolate chips.
Makes 1 loaf + 12 muffins, or 20 muffins

Dry ingredients:
  • 2 cups whole-wheat flour
  • 1 cup cake flour (or all-purpose)
  • 2 teaspoons freshly ground cinnamon (or 1 Tablespoon pre-ground)
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
Wet ingredients:
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 3/4 cup + 2 TB plain yogurt
  • 1/3 cup buttermilk (or regular milk with a splash of vinegar)
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 2 3/4 cups finely grated zucchini (2 1/2 zucchinis)
  • 4 oz semi-sweet chocolate chunks/chips
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Oil a 9×4 inch loaf pan and line with parchment paper. Line a 6-cup muffin tin with papers OR oil a mini loaf pan.
  2. In a bowl, sift together dry ingredients and set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, combine eggs, yogurt, buttermilk, oil, sugar, and vanilla. Combine well. Stir in grated zucchini and chopped chocolate.
  4. Fold flour mixture into the wet ingredients and stir until combined.
  5. Spoon batter into 6 muffin cups (or mini loaf pan) and pour the rest into the 9×4 loaf pan. Bake for approximately 50 minutes.
  6. Remove from oven and cool 10 minutes in the pan. Loosen the sides and remove from pan. Serve warm and store in a zipper bag or foil in the fridge.

Happy eating!


Cinnamon Raisin Bread

To be quite honest, mushy raisins give me the creeps. But dried raisins that are chewy are so delicious. It’s something about the texture. Is there a food that makes you cringe when you think of biting into it, purely because of texture and not taste?

This bread is so rewarding. You boil raisins in a cinnamon sugar bath so they get soft. Then you sprinkle the raisins inside and on top of the bread. In the oven, the raisins puff up, then bake down and get back to their chewy texture. And, in the meantime, this bread gets huge and lovely! Try it. I’m enjoying the challenge of yeast and finding that baking is really easy to do while you’re at home with family, watching TV, or doing laundry or other world-changing activities simultaneously! Multitasking has never been tastier.

Cinnamon Raisin Bread
Simplified From The Joy of Cooking (75th anniversary, p 597-8)
Makes one large 9X5 loaf, but easily doubled
This classic bread was originally created by Henry David Thoreau, the noted author and philosopher. It is moist, spiced with cinnamon and great any time of the day. Dried cranberries can be used instead of raisins, if you like.

3 TB warm water, 105-115 degrees F

1 package of active dry yeast (2 1/4 t.)
1 cup warm milk, 105-115 degrees F
5 TB butter or margarine, melted
3 TB sugar
1 egg
1 t. salt
4 cups all-purpose or bread flour

1/2 to 1 cup raisins
1/4 cup sugar
1 TB cinnamon
Brush on top: 1 TB margarine/butter + 1 TB cinnamon + 3 TB sugar

1 Make the dough: In a large bowl (your mixer bowl works), combine 3 TB warm water and yeast. Let sit about 5 minutes, or until yeast dissolves. Then, add milk, butter, sugar, egg and salt. Mix (by hand or mixer) for one minutes. Then add 2 cups of flour. Gradually add 1 1/2 to 2 cups of flour until dough is moist but not sticky. Knead for 10 minutes until the dough is smooth and elastic. (Don’t you love mixers for this part? If you don’t have a mixer, I am thoroughly jealous of your biceps.)

2 Multitask: Move the dough to an oiled bowl and turn once to coat it with oil. Cover with plastic wrap or a clean towel and let rise in a warm place for about an hour, until it doubles in size. The warm place should be 75-85 degrees, without a draft. Now make the filling.

3 Filling: In a small saucepan on medium heat, add the raisins and about 1/2 inch of cold water. Bring to a boil, drain all but 1-2 TB of water, and add 1/4 cup sugar and 1 TB cinnamon. Stir until sugar melts. Grease a 9X5 bread pan. Punch down the dough and separate it into two pieces (per loaf). Put one piece of dough in bread pan and spread out. Layer 2/3 of the raisin mixture. Then add second piece of dough and spread out. Top with the rest of the raisins. Cover loosely and let rise until doubled in bulk, about an hour.

4 Bake: Preheat the oven to 375 degrees and bake for 40 minutes, or until top is golden brown. In the meantime…In a small bowl, combine 1 TB melted butter, 1 TB of cinnamon and 3 TB sugar. After taking out of the oven, brush with the cinnamon mixture. Serve warm, toasted or cool. Refrigerate or freeze after making.

How great is this bread??? I hope you love it. Happy, happy day, friends.

Happy eating!


French baguettes

I’m thinking about starting a 12–step program for those of us afraid to use yeast. However, I would be able to come to group saying I am on step 2, I think. A challenge was put before me, and I kind of conquered. And if you’re also afraid of baking with yeast, maybe you should conquer the French baguette, too. And you should be proud, because apparently even the French do not make their baguettes from scratch. Instead, they go to the local artisan bakery because those guys have fancy brick ovens. Even without a brick oven, we can do this!

French Baguettes
Makes 2 loaves
Guidance from The Joy of Cooking, page 601 in my version
Total time needed: 3 hrs, 30 minutes (You will only need 15 active minutes, the rest is letting it sit or bake.)

You’ll need:
4 cups all-purpose flour + more for dusting
2 teaspoons salt
1 package (2 1/4 t.) active dry yeast
1 1/2 cups water at room temp
1 cup hot water
One large bowl + wooden spoon OR 1 Elec. mixer
1 clean kitchen towel
1 baking pan with parchment paper/baking liner

1mix it: In a large bowl or your mixer, combine 4 cups flour, salt, and yeast packet. Then create a little well in the center of the mixture and pour in 1 1/2 cup water, at room temp. Stir for about 12 minutes on low speed (by hand or mixer), until dough is soft and elastic. Look at that dough, isn’t it a beauty?

2leave it: While dough is still in the bowl, cover it with a clean towel and let it rise in a warm place (75–85 degrees). This will take 2 hours, and the dough will double in size. Oo-lala. Go watch a movie, or run an errand, or get some work done.

3form it: Punch down the dough. To shape the dough into two baguettes, split dough in half and pat each section into a rectangle on a floured surface. Then roll the dough out away from you; continue rolling, pressing outward with your hands and tapering the dough toward the ends until you have a long, thin loaf. This will take 5 minutes, tops. Once you’ve formed the two loaves, it’s time to let them rise (proof) again. On a non-stick baking pan (you can grease it, parchment paper it, or baking liner it), transfer the two loaves, giving them plenty of space to double in size. Cover them with a towel and wait 30 minutes.

4steam it: The waiting it over. Preheat your oven to 400 and grab a lined baking pan, putting it in the bottom oven rack. When the oven has reached 400 degrees, pour 1 cup of hot water into that preheated pan. Be careful because steam will quickly rise. Then uncover the loaves, score them (take a knife or blade and cut at least 5  3-inch slices into the bread) and put them in the top rack of the oven. See the photos above for an example of how to score the loaves.

5bake it: Bake the bread at 400 degrees for 15 minutes, then decrease temperature to 350 and bake for 25 more minutes. If you want to add an egg wash, mix 1 egg white with 1 tablespoon of cold water. Brush it on the top of the bread at this point and put it back into the oven for 5 more minutes. If you don’t want the egg wash, just bake 5 more minutes (a total of 45 minutes in the oven). When it is fully baked, the crust should be golden brown, and the bottom will sound hollow when tapped. Try not to burn yourself when you slice open the enticing, fresh bread.

You did it! Woo-hoo! I hope this takes your adventures and bravery in the kitchen to the next level.

This was tasty with a broccoli soup I made. The recipe will follow tomorrow. 🙂

Happy eating!


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