Zucchini Bread/Muffins [Recipe]
It’s feast or famine with this self-sufficiency malarkey. For months on end you produce hardly any food at all, then come the end of August you have fruit and veg coming at you from all angles. There are wild mushrooms to be foraged, apples and damsons to be picked and vegetables to be harvested.
Our most successful crop this year, by quite a margin, was our courgette (zucchini) crop. At first it didn’t look promising. I began early, planting seeds under glass way back in April. I nursed the seedlings until they were strong and healthy and until the earth had warmed enough to be a gentle mother. I planted them in our little vegetable plot and tended them carefully. I don’t know where I went wrong, but every single one of them died.
Not one to be easily outdone, I started again. I bought new seed and, as the weather was now warm, planted them directly in the garden. Life was busy and distracting and I promptly forgot about them. When I finally made it back to the garden several weeks later I was delighted to see they had popped their little heads above ground and were growing rather nicely. They grew and grew and grew and I began to understand why the books had advised to plant them so far apart. Too late now, I thought – we’ll just have to run with this spacing and see what happens.
I need not have worried. My courgettes continued to go from strength to strength. In early August they began to develop flowers and I knew that lush green courgettes were on their way. Sure enough, small fingers of green emerged from the flowers, fingers that seemed to grow exponentially with each passing day. The first batch were ready for picking not long after their initial appearance. I was beside myself with excitement. Courgettes are one of my favourite vegetables and we bought them year round when we lived in Ireland. Depending on the time of year they could be quite pricey. Here I was with my own steady supply of “free” organic courgettes. I was in heaven.
Then all of a sudden it got out of hand. I had way too many. They kept growing and growing and I kept picking and picking. Courgettes are at their best when picked before they get too big – less than 2 inches in diameter is ideal. They were appearing and growing at a rate of knots and soon my crisper drawer was full of them. I began to panic – how on earth was I going to use this fabulous courgette glut? I cannot abide waste of any kind and I wanted to make sure they all got eaten. I tried freezing them and that failed miserably – they turned to mush when defrosted. I considered dehydrating them but couldn’t imagine that working either. So I did what every modern girl does – I put a call out on Facebook.
I got plenty of responses – courgette bread, soup, spaghetti, fritters, lasagne, jam, chutney and many more. I tried almost all of them but my favourite, and the most popular with friends and family, was the courgette bread. I tend to call it cake rather than bread because the inclusion of sugar and eggs makes it quite cake-like, but courgette bread seems to be the popular name. With its warm hit of cinnamon it reminds me of carrot cake but it is far moister than any carrot cake I have tried. The crust is just a teeny bit sticky and the crumb is soft, moist and fluffy. It’s the perfect cake. And the best bit? It’s so easy to make.
The batter for this courgette bread can be mixed in minutes, especially if you have a food processor or stand mixer. You do need to grate the courgette, but as you only need one large courgette this doesn’t take very long, even if you need to do it by hand. I was initially disappointed that I only needed one courgette per batch, but I got over this by making multiple batches, each one seemingly tastier and stickier than the one before. Loaves were literally walking out the door – the neighbours all got one, even the plumber got one! This cake is definitely a crowd pleaser.
Zucchini Bread / Muffins
200 ml | 7 fl oz sunflower oil
300 g | 10.5 oz sugar
375 g | plain flour
3 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
400 g | 14 oz courgette (1 large, approx), grated
- Preheat the oven to 160˚ C (320˚ F) and lightly oil and flour your muffin or loaf tins.
- Add the eggs, oil and sugar to a large bowl and whisk until the mixture thickens to the consistency of double cream.
- Add the flour, cinnamon, salt and baking soda to the egg mixture and whisk or beat to combine.
- Add the grated courgette (including any juices) to the bowl and fold into the mixture with a spatula or spoon until well combined, with no clumps of courgette remaining.
- Spoon the mixture into your muffin or loaf tins. Use approximately 1 tablespoon for each muffin to ensure even distribution.
- Bake muffins for 20 minutes or until a skewer or cocktail stick inserted into the middle of a muffin comes out clean.
- Bake half the mixture in a 450 g (1 lb) loaf tin for 50 minutes or until a skewer or cocktail stick inserted into the middle of the loaf comes out clean.
- Cool on a wire tray. The muffins or loaves are ready to eat as soon as they are cool. They keep for about 1 week in an airtight container or ziplock bag. They also freeze well.
- Using a stand mixer, food processor or electric hand whisk reduces the effort required to make this bread. However, it can also be made with just a balloon whisk and a wooden spoon. The mixture does become quite dense when you add the flour so you’ll need a strong arm.
- I grate the courgette with my food processor before proceeding to mix the batter. However, as you only need to grate one large courgette, you can easily grate the courgette with a simple box or plane grater.
- You will notice that juices start to drain from the courgette once it has been grated. Do not strain off this juice – it is a necessary ingredient to keep your bread deliciously moist.
- This recipe yields 24 small muffins or two 450 g (1 lb) loaves. I usually make a mix of each – 12 muffins and 1 loaf. I don’t mind this volume as the bread keeps for well over a week in an airtight container. They also freeze well. If you feel you don’t need this amount you can half the quantities and make either 12 muffins or 1 loaf.
Did anyone else have a courgette glut this year? Any other suggestions on what to do with them?