Zucchini Bread

Nothing makes me feel better about chowing down dessert when I know there’s two cups worth of zucchini in there. Not having a grater has really put a damper on my carrot cake-making ambitions, but I randomly decided that I am going to ignore the thought of mincing a vegetable by hand and go ahead anyway.

I tried a couple of techniques in order to cut up the zucchini as fine as possible with as little effort. I first tried cutting the zucchini into the thinnest medallions I could, then stacked them up and then chopped through them both vertically and horizontally. This didn’t always result in the smallest pieces, so I had to rock the knife back and forth to get it smaller. Next, I tried doing it like how I would mince an onion (slideshow from Serious Eats here). I’d say the latter method worked better; the pieces were more evenly sized for sure. Surprisingly, it didn’t take too long and it was even kind of relaxing.

I would personally reduce the sugar by maybe 1/3 to 1/2 cup because it tasted too one-note sweet to me. Perhaps that problem might be mitigated with the addition of nutmeg. Also, I didn’t have two loaf pans so I used a 9-inch round cake pan and baked for 60 minutes. My cake ended up a little dry though not burned so perhaps the bake time could be shortened by 10 minutes — though it could’ve been because I simply didn’t use very much fat in the recipe.

Zucchini Bread

Makes 1 9-inch round cake or two 8×5 loaves
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen

Zucchini Bread
Adapted from several sources

Yield: 2 loaves or approximately 24 muffins

3 eggs
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 3/4 cups sugar
2 cups grated zucchini
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 cups all-purpose flour
3 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup chopped walnuts or pecans (optional)
1 cup dried cranberries, raisins or chocolate chips or a combination thereof (optional)

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Grease one 9-inch round pan liberally. Alternatively, line 24 muffin cups with paper liners or grease two 8×5 loaf pans.

In a large bowl, beat the eggs with a whisk. Mix in oil, applesauce and sugar, then zucchini and vanilla.

Combine flour, cinnamon, baking soda, baking powder and salt, as well as nuts, chocolate chips and/or dried fruit, if using.

Stir this into the egg mixture. Divide the batter into prepared pans.

Bake loaves for 60 minutes, plus or minus ten, or until a tester inserted into the center comes out clean. Muffins will bake far more quickly, approximately 20 to 25 minutes.

Bran Muffins

My bran muffin obsession all started with the complimentary corn bread that L’Ecole offered. It wasn’t exceptional corn bread, but tasting it reminded me of how much I enjoy the gritty texture in corn bread and bran muffins. Bran muffins. I must have a bran muffin! I went to Trader Joe’s to get a box of their blueberry and raspberry bran muffins, and they were so tough and rubbery that it only spurred my quest for bran muffins even further. I decided that I’ll have to take on the task of making them myself if I ever want to be satisfied, and so I did.

And were these muffins the most delicious ones I’ve ever had! They have a nice crusty exterior with a soft and moist interior. You’d never think that the moistness comes only from skim milk and unsweetened applesauce. These muffins were awesome right out of the oven, but still provided a satisfying heartiness once it cooled.

They weren’t a particularly sweet muffin, but they were sweet enough. It’s pretty hard to find a baked item that you want to eat more than one of yet still escape without guilt, but these bran muffins really nailed it.

Bran Muffins
Adapted from Allrecipes
Makes 6 muffins

3/4 cup unprocessed wheat bran
1/2 cup skimmed milk
1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
1/2 egg (I used two tablespoons of a beaten egg)
1/4 cup light brown sugar
1/4 tsp vanilla
1/4 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 cup all purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt

1. Preheat oven to 375 F and grease 6 muffin cups. (Reviews said that paper liners were not recommended because of the texture of the muffin.)

2. Mix wheat bran and milk, let it stand for ten minutes.

3. In a large bowl, beat applesauce, egg, sugar and vanilla. Fold in bran mixture till combined.

4. In a medium bowl, mix flours, baking soda, and salt. Add flour mixture to large bowl.

5. Divide batter into 6 muffin cups and bake for 15-20 minutes, or until tops spring back when tapped lightly with finger.

6. Remove from muffin cups when muffins are cool enough to handle with bare hands.