Nov 30, 2010

Zucchini Cashew Bread

Some unexpected teaching work fell into my lap week before last. That kept me from baking or posting for a bit. But I'm back. This morning before breakfast I was hastily snapping photos of zucchini bread.

Also before breakfast this morning I checked C & C Cakery's blog hoping to see results of The Movemeber Manly Cupcake Challenge. The results are up, and my Beer & Pretzels Cupcakes won! 

If you haven't already seen the lineup of excellent cupcakes that were submitted for this challenge, you can ogle them here. I was particularly fond of this one, which features a caramel-scotch frosting; this delicious-sounding, perfectly decorated vegan one; and this one with a cookie barbeque grill that actually lights on fire. Thanks to the folks at C&C for hosting such a fun challenge!

Now about that zucchini bread:

My husband and I try to have breakfast together every morning. It gives us a chance to talk for a few minutes as we start the day. It's one less meal that we eat alone at our desks while working. And it usually convinces our finicky dog to eat her breakfast, too.

This is Penelope. She only eats when we eat. If we don't sit down to breakfast together, she doesn't eat her breakfast. (This picture was taken when I was getting ready to move back to Houston last year. She was helping, of course.)

Terry leaves at 6:30 every morning (and sometimes I leave  that early as well), so breakfast needs to be pretty straightforward. Muffins and quick breads are good options. They're delicious for breakfast. They're handy for snacks. They're perfect thank-you gifts for the neighbor with whom Terry sometimes carpools.

Keep reading for details on our current favorite quick bread, which was very tasty this morning with some bacon left over from making chipotle sweet potato corn chowder last night.

Zucchini Cashew Bread
A very moist, deliciously sweet quick bread punctuated by the buttery taste of cashews and a dash of citrus. 

 (Punctuated? Cashews? Come to think of it, whole cashews are shaped a bit like commas.)

Yields 1 loaf

Click here for printable recipe.

4 Tablespoons butter, softened, plus more for the pan
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup sugar
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
⅞ cup whole milk
zest from 1 small orange
2 small or 1 large zucchini, peeled and grated (about 1 ⅓ cups)
⅔ cup cashew pieces

This is an easy two-bowl quick bread. To ensure the bread is soft, stir and mix only as much as necessary to combine ingredients.

Prepare to bake
  1. Heat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Grease a loaf pan with butter.
Don't skimp on the butter for the pan. It's crucial that the loaf come out easily after it bakes.

Mix the ingredients
  1. In a large bowl, whisk together 2 cups flour, 1 cup sugar, 1 ½  teaspoons baking powder, ½ teaspoon baking soda, and 1 teaspoon salt.
  2. Using your fingers, rub 4 Tablespoons softened butter into the dry ingredients until there are no pieces larger than a small pea.
  3. In a small bowl, beat an egg for a few seconds with a fork.
  4. Beat ⅞ cup milk and the zest of one small orange into the egg.
  5. Pour egg mixture into dry ingredients and mix just enough to moisten.
  6. Fold in the grated zucchini and cashew pieces.
I love that this bread is best when made without using a mixer or food processor. The technique of rubbing the butter into the dry ingredients also works nicely with biscuit dough.

Bake and cool the loaf
  1. Pour and spoon the batter into the greased loaf pan.
  2. Bake 60 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in center of loaf comes out clean.
  3. Cool on rack in loaf pan for 15 minutes.
  4. Remove from pan to finish cooling.
Last night my bread took closer to 70 minutes. Like banana bread, the middle of this loaf will still be wet long after the outside looks golden and done. Keep checking with a clean toothpick until it comes out dry. Unlike banana bread, this recipe seems to work best for me in a glass loaf pan rather than a metal one.

Adapted from Mark Bittman’s Vegetable and Nut Bread published in How to Cook Everything, Tenth Anniversary Edition.

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