Last week, a friend gave me a gigantic zucchini that had overgrown in her garden while she was away on vacation. Of course, the best thing to do with overgrown zucchini is to make some zucchini bread, since over-sized ones aren’t as good to use fresh. This time, though, I wanted to do something a little special. When I saw this recipe over at 101 Cookbooks, I was inspired by a few of the unusual ingredients. I pulled out my basic zucchini bread recipe that produces a moist, fluffy, sweet bread, and I also kept the traditional ingredients of vanilla, cinnamon, and nutmeg, but I added to it lemon zest, crystallized ginger and poppy seeds, in adjusted amounts. I also used my favorite dessert nut, pecans. What resulted was delicious!
This zucchini bread is fluffy and sweet and boasts the wonderful moistness that zucchini brings. The addition of lemon zest and poppy seeds gives it a refreshing new taste hybrid of zucchini bread and a lemon poppy seed muffin. I loved how lemon complimented the zucchini so well, and a small amount of ginger gave this bread a slight hint of bite. What a delicious dessert bread!
If you want an easier and cheaper version of this recipe, simply leave out the poppy seeds and crystallized ginger. You can also replace the pecans with walnuts, or leave the nuts out altogether. Check out the recipe I was inspired by for even more exotic ideas (like curry powder and larger amounts of lemon and ginger!).
Lemon Zucchini Bread Recipe with Pecans
makes two loaves
- 1/2 cup butter or margarine, melted
- 2 large eggs (warmed to room temperature)
- 1/2 cup vegetable oil *
- 3 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon blackstrap molasses
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1 cup brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 3 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1/4 cup crystallized ginger, finely minced
- zest of one lemon
- 1/3 cup poppy seeds (optional)
- 2 1/4 cups grated zucchini, do not peel
- 3 cups all-purpose, unbleached flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
- 3/4 cup pecan pieces **
- vegetable shortening
* Canola or other lightly flavored oil, not olive oil.
** Walnut pieces will also work. If you don’t like nuts, feel free to leave them out.
1. Allow the two large eggs to warm to room temperature before starting. (This is so that, when added, they do not solidify and harden the butter).
2. Wash the zucchini. If you are using a large zucchini, you will want to halve it lengthwise and scoop out the seeds, for they will have become too large and watery for this use. If using several small zucchinis, simply grate them whole. Grate the zucchini on the courser grating surface of a block grater. (You can also use a food processor for this step to save time, just be careful to use a setting that will yield the same result as a block grater).
3. Wash the lemon (and remove any stickers), then zest the entire surface of the peel. A zester usually costs only a few dollars at the grocery store, and will save you a huge amount of work (zesting with a grater takes a lot of muscle). Once I finally got one, I couldn’t believe I had waited so long, it saved me so much work! If you don’t have a zester, however, you can use the fine grating surface of a block grater, being sure to get all surfaces of the peel. You can buy an Oxo Good Grips Lemon Zester here from Amazon.
5. Finely mince the crystallized ginger until you have 1/4 a cup.
6. Make sure you have the baking rack in the middle of the oven. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit (175 degrees Celsius).
4. Melt the butter and put it in a large bowl. Add the two large eggs and the vegetable oil, being sure to break the egg yokes. Add the vanilla extract and blackstrap molasses. Mix.
5. Add the granulated sugar and brown sugar, and cream them into the mix. Add the salt, nutmeg, cinnamon, minced crystallized ginger, lemon zest, and poppy seeds if you are using them.
6. Add the zucchini and mix well.
7. In a separate bowl, mix together the flour, baking soda, and baking powder, making sure they are evenly mixed. (I like to use a whisk, but a fork works too).
8. Slowly add the flour mixture to the wet batter, mix enough to bring it to the point that it is completely blended and there are no clumps of flour, but do not over-mix. (Over-mixing can give you dense loaves that don’t rise properly.) At the end, stir in the pecan pieces.
9. Grease two loaf pans with vegetable shortening, then pour half of the batter in each.
10. Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit (175 degrees Celsius) for 45 minutes, then check it. If a wooden skewer or fork poked in the middle comes out clean or with just a little sticky bread, then they are done. (Remember that the loaves will continue to bake some in their pans once removed, and over cooking will give you dry bread.) If the skewer comes out very dirty, give the bread another 5 to 10 minutes and then check it again.
11. Once you have taken the loaves out of the oven, let them stand for at least ten minutes. Then, run a butter knife down all the sides of each pan and gently turn the loaves out. Allow to cool. Be sure to store them in an air-tight container.