Recently at the coffee table after worship service I took a piece of zucchini bread that Dale offered me. I am not a fan of vegetable breads or cakes. I like vegetables that look and taste like vegetables, whether roasted, steamed, sautéd or stewed, not baked into breads, cakes or cookies. My theory is that these recipes were invented by parsimonious housewives as ways to get rid of excess vegetables.
I am not sure, but I think that I was introduced to zucchini bread when we lived in Kentucky. If you think zucchini grows well in northern Wisconsin, you haven’t watched it grow in Murray, Kentucky. You get up the morning when it’s a cool seventy-nine degrees to pick those lovely eight inch zucchinis you wanted for a nice sauté only to discover that they are now a foot long and three inches in diameter.
Even people who didn’t plant zucchini were always looking for ways to use up all of the big ugly green things strangers kept leaving on their doorsteps. Hence the plethora of zucchini bread, cake and cookie recipes shared by friends and neighbors.
Most zucchini breads are a bit too sweet for my taste, so I was pleasantly surprised to find that Dale’s offering was really very well balanced. When I asked about the recipe, he told me that it was his wife’s grandmother’s recipe. When I asked, Pegi said that she would send it to me, and it arrived promptly.
Dale baked the bread, but it is Grandma Emma Melrose’s recipe passed on to her daughter and granddaughter. Here’s how to make a three-generation classic that just might end up in the recipe collections of the younger generations in your family.
3 large eggs
1 cup vegetable oil
2 cups sugar
3 tsp. vanilla
3 cups flour
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. baking powder
3 tsp. cinnamon
2 cups peeled & grated zucchini
1/2 cup nuts or raisins or both
Peel and grate two cups of zucchini and set them aside. If your zucchini is more than two inches in diameter, cut it into quarters and remove the seeds before you grate it. Chop the nuts if necessary and set them aside.
Preheat the oven to 350º and grease two or three loaf pans. The batter is enough to make three four by seven-inch or two five by nine-inch loaves. Cut parchment paper to fit on the the bottom of each pan to help with removing the loaves from the pans.
Beat the eggs, vegetable oil and sugar together, then beat in the vanilla. Sift the flour, salt, soda, baking powder and cinnamon into the liquid ingredients, stirring thoroughly between each addition. Fold in the grated zucchini and nuts or raisins.
Bake on the center shelf in the oven at 350º for fifty to sixty minutes. Check for doneness with a toothpick after fifty minutes. If the toothpick comes out clean, the bread is done. Remove the pans from the oven and let them cool for a few minutes, then tip the loaves out onto a rack to finish cooling.
NOTES: Pegi noted that they used Wesson oil and King Arthur flour, but the bread turned out fine made with store brand canola oil and flour. Adding raisins will make the bread sweeter. Like Dale, I added only chopped nuts, and it was just sweet enough and delicious.