I know, I know, by now everyone has their own zucchini bread recipe. I mean, it’s a must especially if you grow zucchini or have access to a farmers market. It is definitely zucchini time of year, that glorious time when you are so grateful to have your first harvest but by the end of the season are looking for ways either to use them or get rid of them.
Fortunately (or unfortunately) for me, now that I live in a condo I can’t grow zucchini so I can control the amount of zucchini I am willing to use. So last week when I went to the farmers market I got a couple of them and used one as a vegetable side dish and the other to make a couple of loaves of zucchini bread.
So what makes this recipe better than most. A secret ingredient that I use to up the flavor factor. So let’s talk luscious zucchini bread…
Lesson Learned 1 – The secret ingredient is vanilla bean caviar: Most zucchini bread recipes call for vanilla, as does mine. But I decided to try adding the caviar from the inside of a vanilla bean to try to enhance the flavor. And let me tell you, it really ramped up the taste factor. That’s why I call this zucchini bread luscious.
These days you can buy vanilla beans at your local grocery store but not so long ago you had to go to a specialty spice store to get them. The picture below shows you what a vanilla bean looks like.
Step 1: The shaft of the bean is quite small and kind of hard so you’ll need a very sharp knife to extract the caviar from the pod. First you need to straighten out the pod.
Step 2: Using a sharp knife, cut a slit all the way up and down the bean pod
Step 3: Pry the slit open with your hands and scrape the tip of the knife up and down the open shaft of the pod making sure to get as much of the caviar out of the inside as you can.
A whole vanilla bean will give you the equivalent of approximately one teaspoon of vanilla extract. Adding this to the two teaspoons of vanilla already in the recipe and it gives a wonderful but not over powering vanilla flavor to the zucchini bread. And that’s what makes it so luscious.
Now can you make this without the caviar? Of course… but I compare this to adding some espresso powder to a chocolate recipe. The recipe would be good without it but with it there is a fuller, richer flavor. Now I will warn you, vanilla beans are expensive, but they are worth it.
Lesson Learned 2 – Use a food processor to shred the zucchini: Although you can use a box grater, a food processor is a faster and easier way to shred the zucchini for this recipe. One medium to medium-large size zucchini will give you the two cups needed to make the bread. The food processor shreds the zucchini to just the right size so there are small strands in the bread. You don’t want to the zucchini shreds to be too big. They are designed to add moisture to the cake without providing any noticeable flavor. Also, make sure to pat down the zucchini shreds in your measuring cup. You want them slightly compacted.
Lesson Learned 3 – You can use shredded carrots in this recipe as well: I chose not to use carrots this time but you can add them as well. Just substitute one cup of shredded zucchini for one cup of shredded carrots. You can also add one cup of semi-sweet chocolate chips to this recipe. Try it a variety of ways and see what you think.
Try this version of zucchini bread and compare it to yours. I’d love to know what you think!
Luscious Zucchini Bread...
1/2 cup plus 2 Tbs. orange juice
1/2 cup canola oil
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
3 eggs, slightly beaten
1 tsp. vanilla bean caviar (the caviar from one pod)
2 tsp. vanilla
3 cups flour
2 cups sugar
5 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 1/4 tsp. baking powder (1 tsp. for high altitude)
1/2 tsp. baking powder (1/4 high altitude)
1 tsp. salt
2 cups shredded zucchini, lightly packed
1 cup chopped pecans, optional
Preheat oven to 350. In a large bowel combine orange juice, oil, applesauce, eggs, vanilla extract and vanilla caviar. In another bowl combine flour, sugar, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Mix to combine. Fold the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients. Stir to combine. Do not over mix.
Fold in the zucchini and pecans.
Pour the mixture into two 8 x 4 inch loaf pan coating with cooking spray. Check loaves at 45 minutes. Depending on your oven they may need to bake anywhere from 45 – 55 minutes. Loaves are done when a toothpick inserted in the center of a loaf comes out clean.
Let cool in the loaf pan for 15 minutes. Remove loaves from the pans and let cool on a wire rack.