Who knows what motivated a cook to come up with the idea of grating zucchini and folding it into a quick batter? Probably the same motivation that led to another Southern favorite—carrot cake. But it works, with the watery squash adding moisture and turning so tender it almost disappears into the bread, resulting in a texture between muffin and cake. We’ll spare you the even stranger idea of zucchini chocolate cake—Google it, it’s out there—but zucchini bread has been a regular as a teacher gift, a potluck offering, and a welcome-to-the-neighborhood present for about as long as people have been overwhelmed by a garden full of zucchini. We adapted this version from the hundreds of recipes out there. To give it a Southern touch, don’t skip the chopped pecans.
Food & Drink
Makes 1 loaf, about 12 slices.
A potluck classic with a Southern touch
photo: Phillip Rhodes
About 2 teaspoons shortening
2 small or one medium zucchini
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1 egg, beaten
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup vegetable oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 cup pecans, toasted lightly and coarsely chopped
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease the bottom and around the bottom edge of an 8-inch loaf pan with shortening, leaving the upper edges uncoated so the batter has something to cling to as it bakes.
Trim the ends of the zucchini but leave the peel on. Grate on the large holes of a box grater; you should have 1 to 1 1/2 cups zucchini. Squeeze some of the water out, but don’t squeeze it completely dry.
In a mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, cinnamon, baking soda, salt, baking powder, and nutmeg. Set aside.
In a small bowl, whisk together the egg, sugar, oil, and vanilla. Stir in the zucchini.
Add the zucchini mixture to the flour mixture and fold lightly until all the flour is moistened but the batter is still a little lumpy.
Spread in the prepared loaf pan and bake for 50 to 55 minutes, until pulling away from the edges a bit and a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean. Cool in the pan about 5 minutes, then run a knife around the edges to loosen and turn out on to a rack to cool completely.
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