There are many ways to get esoteric about food, and sometimes i have to laugh to myself about the things i start arguing in my head. But I know I’m not the only baker who’s ever wondered: where does something stop being called bread and turn into a cake?
I often find myself asking this question when I have a semi-regular disagreement with my son who is too smart for his own good about what he can have for breakfast. It’s something called a loaf (like in quick breads, not the yeast varieties), but actually looks more like a cake, okay? Is the presence of icing the dividing line? What if it was in the form of muffins? Etc.
Nowhere is this dilemma perhaps more apparent than when it comes to zucchini bread. Of course, it looks like it should be better for you as it features a vegetable, at least in the culinary sense, as zucchini is botanically a fruit. In reality, however, recipes are often loaded with sugar and fat – great for an occasional dessert, but not the go-to thing all the time, even when your plants start to go crazy.
I decided to curb the more forgiving character of the zucchini bread. Based on my frequent interactions with readers, it seemed like focusing on whole wheat flour, reducing or cutting refined sugar, and cutting back on fat would be welcome adjustments. And now I present to you this wholemeal zucchini bread with honey and ginger.
Whole wheat flour was an obvious nutritional improvement over all purpose, but my motivation was twofold. Zucchini is notoriously watery and craves whole wheat flour, so I figured the pairing of these two ingredients would be a nice symbiotic relationship. And it was, to some extent. After three tries, I still found myself with slightly soggy breads. Part of this was because I was already adding more liquid in the form of mashed clementine and honey to the recipe. Both ingredients help soften some of the more bitter undertones in whole wheat and tenderize bread. Then when the honey alone wasn’t sweet enough, I pureed a small amount of the raisins soaked with the clementine for another natural sugar boost (more honey would make the bread prone to burn). This change made the crumb satisfactorily even softer, but the soggy core remained.
I felt like I knew what I needed to do, but to assert it, I turned to two of my go-to pastry mentors, Martin Philip, cookbook author and baker at King Arthur Baking, and Andrew. Janjigian, freelance food writer, recipe wiz and newsletter author. They both confirmed my hunch: I needed to wring out the zucchini. I had tried to avoid this because it introduced an extra step. In the end, there was no getting around it. A few extra minutes of squeezing the excess liquid out of the grated zucchini wrapped in a tea towel did the trick. With this last adjustment, the bread was just right, chewy, chewy but not gummy. Better yet, by removing all that water, the other flavors – nutty whole wheat, bright citrus, tangy ground ginger – sparkle even more.
I sent my college roommate a first draft of the recipe since she was practically tripping over zucchini in her garden, and she summed up my feelings perfectly: “The flavor is excellent, I love the taste of bread by opposition to the cake. “
Need a little more sweetness? Go ahead and sprinkle some coarse sugar on top. I would always serve it to anyone including the child and call it breakfast.
Wholemeal bread with zucchini
Made with whole wheat flour and no refined sugar, this zucchini bread is satisfying and slightly sweet without looking like an over-the-top cake. A mash of clementine and raisins gives a chewy texture and counteracts some of the bitterness of the wheat while allowing the nutty flavor of the flour to shine. Ground ginger adds a nice touch, although you can use any spice you like.
For an extra touch of sweetness and crunch, you can sprinkle the top with coarse sugar, such as demerara or turbinado. Want to add chocolate chips? Dark.
Active time: 40 min | Total time: 1 hour 40 minutes
Makes: 10 to 12 portions (for a 21x11cm loaf)
Storage Notes: Zucchini bread can be stored at room temperature in an airtight box or well wrapped for up to 3 days. It can also be well packaged and frozen for up to 1 month.
To make this recipe vegan, replace the eggs with 6 tablespoons of aquafaba (the liquid from a can of beans, like chickpeas) and ½ cup of agave nectar with honey. Bake bread as directed. It may be slightly chunkier and lighter in color, and if it doesn’t look too dark towards the end of baking, you can ignore the aluminum tent. Start checking doneness after 45 to 50 minutes.
120 ml of vegetable oil and more to grease the pan
315g zucchini, trimmed and grated on the large holes of a box grater
35g seedless raisins, soaked in hot tap water for at least 10 minutes
1 clementine, roughly chopped, peeled and left on
250g wholemeal flour
2 teaspoons of ground ginger
1¼ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon of baking soda
½ teaspoon of fine sea or table salt
2 large eggs, at room temperature
150g of honey
1 tsp of vanilla extract
Demerara or turbinado sugar, for sprinkling (optional)
Place a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 200 ° C (you will lower the temperature once you start baking, but the higher initial temperature allows for an increase in what might otherwise be a dense, chunky cake) . Grease an 11 x 21 cm loaf pan with non-stick cooking spray or a little oil (you can also use a 22 x 12 cm loaf pan).
Working in batches if necessary, place the grated zucchini in the center of a clean tea towel. Twist the edges of the napkin to make a packet that looks like wrapped peppermint candy, and squeeze as much liquid as possible from the zucchini. Don’t be afraid to be aggressive, press and twist a few times, rotating the pack as you work. By the time you have finished, you should have extracted about ¼ cup of liquid, although the exact amount may vary (sip the liquid as is or toss with a little soda water for a refreshing riff on the cucumber water).
Drain all but a little water from the soaked raisins and mix them with the pieces of clementine. Using a blender or immersion blender, reduce the mixture to a smooth puree.
In a medium bowl, combine the flour, ginger, baking powder, baking soda and salt. In a separate large bowl, whisk together eggs, ½ cup oil, honey and vanilla until combined. Stir in the raisin and clementine puree then the zucchini. Add the flour mixture to the egg mixture and mix with a soft spatula until well combined. You don’t have to worry about over-mixing.
Distribute the dough in the cake tin and smooth the top. Sprinkle with a little demerara or turbinado sugar, if you use it. Lower the oven temperature to 190 ° C. Bake for 45 minutes, then cover the pan lightly with foil, as honey and whole wheat flour make bread more likely to burn. It will be a dark khaki brown on top at this point, but the middle will not be done yet.
Bake for an additional 10 to 15 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out almost clean, with a few damp crumbs attached (if using an 22 x 12 cm pan, time to cooking may be shorter).
Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let cool for 10 minutes. Run a butter knife around the edge of the bread to release any stuck edges, then remove it from the pan. Slice and serve hot or at room temperature.
Nutrition by slice, based on 12 | Calories: 227; total fat: 11g; saturated fat: 1g; cholesterol: 31 mg; sodium: 184 mg; carbohydrates: 31g; dietary fiber: 3g; sugar: 15g; protein: 4g.
© The Washington Post