[Photograph: Vicky Wasik]
Zucchini bread is a classic sweet quick bread that tastes more of warm fall spices than summer squash. To achieve moist, tender results, most recipes follow a standard formula of one part oil to two parts sugar to three parts flour (by volume). Our version offers some key adjustments: melted butter adds dairy richness, while swapping a portion of the traditionally white flour with whole wheat flour adds a pleasant nutty flavor and thickens the batter, resulting in a higher rise and more attractive peak. We amp up the loaf’s caramel flavor by adding light brown sugar to the mix, which is complemented by citrusy ground coriander and the deep, earthy notes of cinnamon and nutmeg. We like stirring. toasted walnuts into the batter, but they can easily be omitted or substituted with an equal volume of toasted pecans, dried fruit (cranberries or golden raisins would be great mix-ins), or chocolate chips or chunks for a sweeter, more dessert-leaning twist. No matter the version you opt for, the result is a lightly spiced, hearty yet decadent zucchini bread that’s suitable for breakfast, as a mid-afternoon snack, or dessert. It’s zucchini bread 2.0.
Botanically a fruit, zucchini boast a high water content (95%!) and a mild sweet squash flavor, which lends itself well to both savory and sweet applications. Here, zucchini’s primary role is to ensure that the bread bakes up moist and stays that way long after it comes out of the oven. Because water content in zucchini can vary, with some being more watery and others less so, we wring out excess moisture from the squash after grating so that we end up with a tender quick-bread rather than a soggy or gummy loaf.
If you don’t have a loaf pan, this batter can be used to bake up a batch of muffins instead—perfect vehicles for generous smears of butter when they’re still warm from the oven. For a punchy, more savory flavor, consider swapping the neutral oil in the recipe with a good extra-virgin olive oil.
Why It Works
- Draining the grated zucchini keeps the moisture level consistent and prevents a damp, excessively spongy texture.
- Whole wheat flour adds nutty flavor while also thickening the batter, resulting in a golden brown dome.
- A mix of ground cinnamon, coriander, and nutmeg lends a pleasant spiciness that strikes the right balance between bright sweetness and earthy warmth.
- A blend of butter and oil results in a rich, tender cake.
What’s New On Serious Eats
- 8 ounces (2 cups; 225g) grated zucchini from 2 medium zucchini (see note)
- 5 ounces (1 cup; 140g) all-purpose flour
- 3 ounces (1/2 cup; 85g) whole wheat flour
- 1 teaspoon (4g) Diamond Crystal kosher salt; for table salt, use half as much by volume
- 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/8 teaspoon ground coriander
- 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 2 large eggs (3 1/2 ounces; 100g)
- 4 ounces (1/2 cup; 115g) granulated sugar
- 4 ounces (1/2 cup; 115g) light brown sugar
- 3 ounces neutral oil, such as vegetable or canola oil (1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons; 85g)
- 2 ounces (about 4 tablespoons; 60g) unsalted butter, melted
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 ounces (1/2 cup; 60g) toasted chopped walnuts, optional (see note)
Grease 8 1/2- by 4 1/2-inch loaf pan and line with a 7- by 13-inch sheet of parchment paper so that parchment hangs over the long sides of the pan forming a sling. Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and preheat to 350°F (177°C).
Place grated zucchini in a colander and press against the sides to extract liquid, or wrap in a clean kitchen towel or cheesecloth and squeeze to remove excess liquid. You should end up with about 6 1/2 ounces (1 1/2 cups; 185g) drained zucchini. Set aside.
In a medium bowl, whisk together all-purpose flour, whole wheat flour, salt, baking soda, cinnamon, baking powder, coriander, and nutmeg until well combined.
In a large bowl, whisk together eggs, granulated sugar, brown sugar, oil, butter, and vanilla until thoroughly combined and sugars are dissolved.
Add flour mixture to egg mixture. Using a flexible spatula, mix just until just incorporated, and no dry flour remains. Fold in zucchini and walnuts (or pecans, dried fruit, or chocolate chips), if using.
Scrape batter into prepared pan. Bake until loaf is domed and golden brown and a cake tester inserted in the center comes out with few moist crumbs attached, or to an internal temperature of around 200°F (93°C), about 1 hour.
Transfer pan to a wire rack to cool for 30 minutes. Run a butter knife along edges to loosen, then lift loaf using overhanging parchment and transfer to a cutting board. Slice with a serrated knife and serve.
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