Monday, August 3, 2009

Monday Must Have: Baking Illustrated & Zucchini Bread

I love a good deal. Give me a sale that includes a "buy one, get one free" promotion and I'm there. I know that it's actually "buy two and each one is half price", but I like to see the word free--you just feel like you are getting a great deal.

Today is your lucky day. The Monday Must Have is not only ONE awesome "must have", but TWO! The first is a cookbook that every baker should have in their collection. If you have ever read a Cook's Illustrated Magazine and liked it, then you will LOVE this book by the same editors, called Baking Illustrated.

This cookbook is FANTASTIC!

Let me say that again. This cookbook is FANTASTIC!

The entire cookbook is all about baking (my personal favorite kind of cookbook) and every recipe has been tested by the good people at the America's Test Kitchen. And not only has each recipe been tested and developed to be the best, the editors included notes for each recipe about why they decided on certain ingredients or mix methods. I can't tell you enough about how awesome it is to try recipes from this book.

Last week, we in the Pacific Northwest, had a major HEAT wave come through. I actually didn't mind the heat, and in fact I prefer the heat to cold weather any day--but we also have A/C and so it was tolerable. Because of the several hot days we had, our zucchini crop has taken on a life of its own and was growing faster than we could pick it. I'm always looking for good zucchini recipes and so yesterday, I did a little research in my library of over 200 cookbooks and found one of the best recipes for Zucchini Bread I've had in a long time--in fact, maybe ever. From here on out, this is my go-to zucchini bread recipe. This Zucchini Bread recipe is the second part of the Monday Must Have, which I will share with you.

So good.

So delicious.

So addicting.

See what I mean? Enough with the temptations, let's get to the recipe. I only made a couple of alterations to the original recipe and noted them in orange.

Zucchini Bread
Adapted from Baking Illustrated, pgs 29-30

Yields = (1) 9-inch loaf

2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 pound zucchini, washed and dried, ends and stems removed, cut in half lengthwise and seeded if using large zucchini, each half cut into 1-inch pieces
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup pecans or walnuts, chopped coarse *I used pecans because most recipes call for walnuts and they were so good, I don't think I'll ever go back to walnuts in zucchini bread.
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 cup plain yogurt *I used lemon yogurt, since I didn't have plain yogurt on hand. This worked well and I will stick to the lemon yogurt in future batches.
2 large eggs, beaten lightly
1 Tbsp. juice from a lemon
6 Tbsp. unsalted butter, melted and cooled

1) Preheat oven to 375 degrees f. and adjust oven rack to middle position. Grease the bottom and sides of a 9 x 5-inch loaf pan; dust with flour, tapping out the excess.

2) Shread zucchini using a food processor, using the shreading blade. Transfer shreaded zucchini to a strainer, toss zucchini with 2 Tbsp. of sugar, then place strainer over bowl, set at least 2 inches over the bowl and allow to drain for about 30 minutes.

3) Meanwhile, spread the nuts on a baking sheet and toast until fragrant, 5 to 7 minutes. *Jill's Note: Don't skip this step! The toasted pecans added another level of flavor to this bread--so yummy! Transfer the nuts to a cooling rack and cool completely. Transfer the nuts to a large bowl; add the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt, and whisk until combined. Set aside.

4) Whisk together the remaining 1/2 cup plus 2 Tbsp. sugar, yogurt, eggs, lemon juice, and melted butter in a medium bowl until combined. Set aside.

5) After the zucchini has drained, squeeze the zucchini with several layers of paper towels to absorb excess moisture. Stir the zucchini and the yogurt mixture into the flour mixture until just moistened. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and smooth surface with a rubber spatula.

6) Bake until the loaf is golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 55-60 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through baking. Cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack and cool for at least 1 hour before serving.

I still have a ton of zucchini that needs to be used, and I'll be making several more loaves of this FANTASTIC zucchini bread today.


  1. Jill, you sound so convincing! I get so many zucchini that I don't know what to do with. I will give this a try.

    I agree with you on the pecans, they are so tastier than walnuts.

  2. Laura: You will love this recipe--and the toasted pecans are the best in this bread!

  3. Thanks, Jill! I have a zucchini from our ward garden that has bread written all over it! I'm guessing that the lemon yogurt was the secret ingredient!?!

  4. Sara: Actually zucchini was the secret ingredient I was working with; I made two other zucchini recipes for cake & bars, but this one was the best out of all of them. But the lemon yogurt was the fun surprise ingredient. :)

  5. Just fabulous -- especially with the addition of the lemon yogurt. It's been years since I've baked anything with zucchini! Almost bought that cookbook and sadly resisted thinking of the zillions I already had. Thanks for sharing this ; )

  6. I'm an online member of CI, but haven't checked out Baking Illustrated yet, but if they have a website, I'll probably join that too! Anyhoo,,that is the most perfect, moist looking zucchini bread I have ever seen. I've been blessed with lots of coworkers who grow zucchini, so I would get loads of bags come each summer. but since I'm not working due to my knee, I just may miss out this year *pout*

  7. I love the Cook's Illustrated series. Zucchini bread just happens to be the best thing that ever happened to those little green monsters.

  8. Wow what a fab looking loaf. Especially the interior with those yellow and green and nut pieces of yumminess. This recipe reminds me of a banana bread I make so I know it would be super moist and love the idea of flavoured yoghurt and yes the pecans (any nuts used in baking) must be toasted. Thank you for the very nice comments you left on my blog about my macarons a bit of a fad of me at the moment. BTW I just love your blog great work. Cheers from Audax in Australia

  9. Kellypea: I know what you mean about having a zillion cookbooks, I still get sucked into buying more.:) I think it's on sale at the CI site.

    Lisa: Are you by any chance in Oregon? If you live near here, I'd be happy to share any of our zucchini from our garden with you. We planted extra plants this year and just today I've used 6 lbs. in about 12 loaves of zucchini bread! :)

    Chou: I agree 100% with that!

    Audax: Thanks! I'm glad you've enjoyed my blog and yes, this bread is super moist!

  10. Looks good! I love the idea of using lemon yogurt, brilliant!

  11. I love how you snuck the cookbook into the photo. Very clever.

    I've been missing zucchini since moving to Sweden, where it always tastes inedibly bitter.

  12. Kalyn: Lemon yogurt just adds that little something special to the bread. :)

    ghweiss: Why is the zucchini so bitter in Sweden? I guess it must be a different kind there.

  13. I love your zucchini bread. You should submit it to the bread contest on my site. The winner gets a $179 Super Bread bread knife from New West Knifeworks. You can get more info here:

    Let me know if you're interested. All I need is a photo of your bread (for voting) and the link to your recipe.

  14. The zucchini bread is awesome. Great texture. Lacking in the flavor dept. I believe I will add some cinnamon and vanilla the next time (and there will be a next time). Pictures are true to life. Wonderful.

  15. I expected more from Cooks Illustrated, but this wasnt the taste I was hoping for. Perhaps, I used too much zucchini or perhaps I didnt get enough moisture out. The kids are devouring them though, so I should like them more than I do. Thanks for sharing!

  16. please oh please tell me how to make it without egg... i eat egg but my hubby doesnt n i'd love to share this with him :)

  17. This is TASTELESS no cinnamon, allspice or nutmeg, beware!