Showcase one of summer's favorite vegetables with a delicious quick bread recipe from The Culinary Institute of America. Zucchini's green, plump, homegrown goodness is an ideal baking ingredient, providing color, moisture, and nutrition. Commonly served as a breakfast pastry or as a simple dessert, zucchini bread makes a scrumptious snack when paired with a glass of cold milk. **An important, but often overlooked, guideline is the importance of sifting dry ingredients together to remove lumps and to blend them evenly. Sifting helps to ensure a fully combined batter with minimal mixing time. Also, all ingredients should be at room temperature before they are added. Ingredients that are too cold may cause the batter to separate or curdle. If the batter should separate, continue to mix until it becomes smooth again. **Before mixing begins, toast the nuts. Toasting nuts intensifies their natural flavor and enhances the finished product. For a small quantity of nuts, such as the amount in the following recipe, preheat a dry skillet over medium heat. Once the pan is hot, scatter the nuts in a single layer without crowding them. Gently swirl the pan or stir the nuts frequently to allow for even toasting. Immediately transfer toasted nuts to a cool container. This keeps them from continuing to brown. Toasting nuts before chopping them produces the best results. **To further enhance the appearance and flavor, Chef Marc Haymon, lecturing instructor in baking and pastry at The Culinary Institute of America, recommends topping the zucchini bread with sunflower seeds before baking.
- 3 1⁄2 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1⁄2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1⁄2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
- 1⁄4 teaspoon ground cloves
- 2 1⁄2 cups zucchini (grated unpeeled)
- 1 cup sugar
- 4 large eggs, lightly beaten
- 1⁄2 cup vegetable oil
- 2 tablespoons orange zest, grated
- 1 cup toasted walnuts (coarsely chopped) or 1 cup toasted pecans (coarsely chopped)
- Preheat the oven to 350°F;.
- Grease and flour two 8½-inch loaf pans.
- Sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves into a bowl and set aside.
- Combine the zucchini, sugar, eggs, oil, and orange zest in a large bowl and mix by hand until evenly blended.
- Add the sifted dry ingredients to the zucchini mixture; Stir by hand just until the batter is evenly moistened and blended; Fold in the nuts.
- Divide the batter between the prepared loaf pans.
- Bake until the edges are browned and starting to pull away from the pan and the bread springs back when lightly pressed with your fingertip, 50-55 minutes.
- Remove the loaves from the pans and let cool on wire racks before serving.