Three Summer Quick Breads

Zucchini Bread

September 13, 2011
This recipe from Baking at Home with the Culinary Institute of America (Wiley 2004) makes a surprisingly light-tasting loaf and uses up a ton of zucchini. I had a baseball bat-sized zucchini I'd seeded, shredded and frozen, and I used it all up in these two loaves. If you don't happen to have oranges around (and who does at the end of summer?) you can just use a teaspoon of orange extract.
Zucchini bread
T. Susan Chang for NPR
Makes 2 loaves, about 12 slices each
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for dusting
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
2 1/4 cups coarsely grated, unpeeled zucchini
1 cup sugar
4 large eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 tablespoons grated orange zest
1 cup coarsely chopped toasted walnuts or pecans
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour two 8 1/2-inch loaf pans.
Sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves into a bowl, and set aside.
Combine the zucchini, sugar, eggs, oil and orange zest in a large bowl, and mix by hand until evenly blended.
Add the sifted dry ingredients to the zucchini mixture. Stir by hand just until the batter is evenly moistened and blended. Fold in the nuts. Divide the batter between the prepared loaf pans.
Bake until the edges are browned and starting to pull away from the pan, and the bread springs back when lightly pressed with your fingertip, about 55 minutes. Remove the loaves from the pans and let cool on wire racks before serving.

Pumpkin Bread

September 13, 2011
I developed this bread last winter in the grip of a serious pumpkin-bread craving. If you have a stand mixer, it comes together in a flash, but you can also make it quickly with just a whisk and a bowl. It makes an unusually wet-looking batter, but the loaf will dry in the oven and rise a little. Just give it enough time, even if the aroma in the kitchen is driving you mad.
Makes 1 loaf, about 12 slices
1 1/2 cups walnut halves/pieces
1/2 cup vegetable oil
3/4 cup dark brown sugar
2 large eggs
1/3 cup buttermilk
9 ounces canned pumpkin puree
1/2 teaspoon orange extract
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Toast the walnuts for 12-15 minutes, chop and set aside. Measure out the 1/2 cup oil. Dip a basting brush in the measuring cup and grease a standard 8 1/2- or 9-inch loaf pan.
In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the brown sugar and oil on low speed. Add the eggs, one at a time, and then add the buttermilk, the pumpkin puree and the orange extract. Let it continue to mix on low speed while you sift the dry ingredients.
Put the flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt in a sifter. Sift together onto a sheet of wax paper. Carefully tilt the contents of the wax paper into the mixer as it continues to run. Mix on low speed, scraping down the sides once, until just combined.
Fold in the chopped walnuts gently, and scrape the batter into the greased pan. Bake for 65-70 minutes, or until a skewer inserted in the center of the loaf comes out clean. Cool in the pan for 10 minutes and out of the pan for 20 minutes before serving.

Carrot Bread

September 13, 2011
This recipe from The Fearless Baker, by Emily Luchetti and Lisa Weiss (Little, Brown 2011) makes a sweet, moist loaf — one that can almost pass for dessert. Carrots can vary in the amount of moisture they hold. Mine were particularly juicy, so I had to bake on the longer side. You can test the interior with a skewer or toothpick. When the end comes out dry or with a few moist crumbs clinging to it, then the loaf's done.
Makes 1 loaf, about 12 slices
Carrot bread
T. Susan Chang for NPR
8 medium carrots
1 1/3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, completely softened
1 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1/3 cup buttermilk (or 1/3 cup whole milk mixed with 1/2 teaspoon lemon juice)
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease the bottom and sides of an 8 1/2-inch loaf pan with nonstick cooking spray or butter.
Peel and slice 3 of the carrots into 1/4-inch rounds. Bring a medium saucepan of salted water to a boil, add the carrots and cook until soft, about 10 minutes. Drain. Let cool, and then puree in the food processor or blender. Coarsely grate the remaining 5 carrots (you should have 2 cups). Set both the pureed carrots and grated carrots aside.
Put the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt onto a piece of parchment paper or into a bowl. Set aside.
In a medium bowl, use a wooden spoon (or any other stiff spoon) to mix the butter and sugar until smooth. Stir in the eggs one at a time until combined. Stir in the buttermilk, carrot puree and grated carrots. Add the flour mixture and mix until well-blended.
Spread the batter in the prepared pan. Bake until a bamboo skewer or toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean, about 55-65 minutes. Let the bread cool for 15 minutes.
To remove, run a small knife around the bread to loosen it from the pan, and then turn it out onto a cutting board or plate. Cool completely. Cut into slices. The bread will keep at room temperature, wrapped in plastic, for 4 days or frozen for 2 months.

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