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I know that this Chai Zucchini Quick Bread might be a little surprising.
In August, here in Upstate NY, we sometimes have no zucchini, because bad weather, and the bugs got to it. Or, more likely, we have a ton of zucchini. I’m not kidding – a literal ton. It’s a lot,
Consequently, thrifty people are looking for ways to make sure it doesn’t go to waste, which is where zucchini bread often comes in.
As I mentioned last week, there’s an actual evening dedicated to unloading your excess gourds onto your neighbors’ porches. That’s a lot harder out here where driveways are long. They see you coming a mile away, which gives them time to circle around and leave some zukes on your porch.
To be honest, despite the hype, we don’t mind it when we have a lot of zucchini. If they get too big, we stash them in the greenhouse to dry out a bit and keep them someplace cool until winter, when we cook them up for the chickens.
I also freeze some, and this year, I’m dehydrating it for winter soups and casseroles.
But, let’s not forget that Zucchini Bread. I’m not a huge fan of it a lot of the time. It’s not awful. Just kind of blandly sweet and characterless – why not jazz it up a bit?
If zucchini doesn’t bring a lot of flavor of its own, it does give you a wide-open canvas to paint in whatever flavors you want to add. So, why not go with some really strong stuff? Like black tea, warm spices, a hint of citrus, and some toasty nuts? That sounds kind of… tasty, doesn’t it?
This recipe is baked in two 8×5 loaf pans. For a long time I used non-stick bakeware, but I’ve gotten away from that more recently, in favor of stainless steel. Stainless is a healthier option in my opinion, because there is nothing to leach into your food. I particularly like mirror-finish stainless steel, because if you grease it well, it is nearly as non-stick as the nasty kind. These are nice, heavy 8×5 pans, But on the pricey side. They’ll last forever, if you take good care of them, and you can throw them right in the dishwasher, always a plus in my book. You can find some other options, here, as well.
Chai Zucchini Quick Bread
- 3 & 1/2 cups unbleached all purpose flour
- 1 & 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 2 teaspoons cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
- 1 & 1/2 teaspoons cardamom
- 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 tablespoon finely ground back tea
- 2 cups grated zucchini
- 1 cup brown sugar tightly packed
- 1/2 cup honey
- 3 large eggs
- 3/4 cup vegetable oil
- 2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger
- 2 teaspoons freshly grated lemon zest
- 1 cup toasted walnuts coarsely chopped
- Preheat the oven to 350º, and generously butter two 8x5 inch loaf pans. I also line the bottom with a piece of parchment paper, cut to fit, and butter that as well - just a little extra insurance that it doesn't stick.
- In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, ground cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom, pepper and ground tea [see note]. Set aside.
- In a medium mixing bowl, use a wooden spoon to combine the zucchini, brown sugar and honey.
- Add the eggs and mix well.
- Add the oil, vanilla, ginger and lemon zest and mix well.
- Pour the wet ingredient mixture into the flour mixture, and fold together until well combined and fairly smooth. Add the nuts and mix to distribute evenly.
- Divide evenly between the two loaf pans, and smooth the tops.
- Bake in the preheated oven for 55 to 60 minutes, until a toothpick or wooden skewer inserted near the center comes out with no more than a few moist crumbs.
- Cool in the pans for 5 minutes, then turn out onto a wire cooling rack. Once cool, wrap tightly to keep fresh at room temperature for a couple days - longer than that and it should go in the fridge. Freezes well for a couple months, if wrapped in plastic wrap and then foil.
It improves with sitting for a few days at room temperature, which gives the spices time to really meld and permeate every bite. That is why two loaves come in handy because it smells so good when it first comes out of the oven that you will not be able to resist.
On the other hand, it will taste mighty good at Thanksgiving time, when the zucchinis are long gone. It will keep quite nicely until then, in the freezer – just make sure to snuggle it tightly in plastic wrap followed by foil, to prevent it from drying out. Enjoy Chai Zucchini Quick bread now and later? That is what I call relaxing.