Monday, August 8, 2011

Go Big or Go Home: A Tale of Zucchini

So I just have to start this post with the fact that I pretty much make the best zucchini bread ever. I will say that I got the recipe from my mom, so she makes pretty much the best zucchini bread ever too. And she got it from our next door neighbor Peggy when I was a kid, so...yada, yada, yada.

Anyway...last weekend I wandered out to the freezer to get something out for dinner (I don't remember now what it was) and I happened upon my stash. The stash I speak of is the near dozen loaves of zucchini bread that I made last fall. Yup. Last fall.

I had been talking with Patti about the zucchini bread a few weeks earlier when discussing her garden and she asked if it would still be good. I hadn't busted any out since around March so I admit that I was a little nervous. But I had to try it out. We broke out a loaf and let it defrost. We've been munching off of it for the last week and a half and...still delicious.

I tell you this because it brought up the thought that I generally never do anything simply. If I'm undertaking a project, it's going to be to some level of crazy. It's just who I am. This was no different with the zucchini bread incident of 2010. a reward for reading about the incident, you will along the way be given the recipe for the magnificent bread of which I speak. You won't be sorry.

It all started with Patti. She works with a guy named Mark who has a crazy garden. He was up to his armpits in zucchini so he started giving some away. I first started with one zucchini and made a couple of loaves. Two of them stayed at home, one went to Patti and another went to Mark as payment for the zucchini. I said, I make pretty much the best zucchini bread ever so Mark asked if I would make more. Sure...why not?

A few days later I gathered the zucchini from Patti. Six VERY LARGE zucchini. Fantastic.

I wasn't kidding. They're freaking HUGE.

And we were off. I started off that Saturday morning about 10am. I was stoked because this also meant that I got to bust out my brand new meat grinder attachment for my KitchenAid mixer. Ya, ya I know it's designed for meat, but this worked marvelously. (I will preface the rest of the story by letting you know that the entire endeavor took near 14'll see I enlisted the help of Collin & Darian mid-afternoon.)

So to start off, I sliced these gigantic beasts into sections and then into slices that would fit into the grinder attachment. The old school way was to use my cheese grater to break it up - that was a nightmare. I hate the cheese grater. I always manage to shred my knuckles. The meat grinding attachment has saved my life. (That may be slightly overdramatic, but thanks Carole!)

My slaves hard at work. No idea why that look is on Collin's face.

All sliced up & ready to shred. You'll learn that my family loves to pretend they're eating things in pictures. We're weird. Embrace it.

Once the zucchini was all shredded up into a pile of slimy muck, I started gathering the ingredients (I will make the disclaimer that for this endeavor I did have to send Collin to the store not once, but twice to restock me on ingredients I ran out of. Oops.) For every 2 cups of grated zucchini you'll need these ingredients: 3 eggs, 1 c. of oil (I use canola, but vegetable works just as well), 3 c. of flour, 1 tsp. baking soda, 1 tbsp. cinnamon, 2 c. sugar, 1 tbsp. vanilla, 1/4 tsp. baking powder and 1 tsp. salt. If you like nuts in yours, you can add 2 c. My mom makes hers with walnuts. She also started making it without nuts once we realized that my brother Tyler was horribly allergic to walnuts. I prefer the non-nutted version myself.

Bowl of slimy zucchini stage right.

I used to mix this all by hand, but having the Kitchen Aid made my life much easier. I'm pretty sure this endeavor would've stopped a lot sooner if I didn't have it. (Collin may have preferred this at the time.)  So I busted out the ingredients and started mixing in double batches. The eggs get beaten first until they're light. Then the oil, sugar, vanilla & zucchini go into the mix.

The first time I sent Collin to the store I ran out of vanilla and sugar. In an attempt to keep from having to go back to the store he bought me a bigger bag of sugar than requested and one extra bottle of vanilla.  Haha buddy, joke's on you. I'm going to run out of flour two hours later...

It was also about the time I started mixing the wet mixture that I hit another snag. I was new to the Kitchen Aid (and we all know how I am about instruction manuals), so I didn't know what the different attachments were for. Very soon I realized that the wisk attachment was NOT meant for mixing dough. It is now permanently physically disabled.

The dough hook is the attachment you're looking for here.

The instructions then technically call for sifting all of the dry ingredients together before adding to the wet mixture. Well...I'm a lazy sifter. So they all just go in a mixing bowl and get tossed before I pour in small increments at a time.

Around batch three, the flour ran out. Adios, Collin. Enjoy your trip to Walmart on a Saturday afternoon! I was multitasking at the time and mixing new batches while the previous batch cooked. When that was done I shredded more zucchini for the next run. I had quite the system going. I would be an amazing assembly line worker.

Each batch (the 2 c. zucchini that I told you about before) makes about 4 loaves of zucchini. I obviously had to make more than 4 loaves. So...we had bought the store completely out of bread pans the day before. I think I now own 7. And thank goodness too because otherwise that 14 hours would've turned into over 20 and I'm pretty sure Collin would've had me committed.

The mixture goes into greased loaf pans (I use Crisco or Pam and fill about 1/3-1/2 way) and then goes in the oven for 1 hour at 325 degrees. Check with the ol' toothpick test before you pull it out of the oven. A clean toothpick = done.

Behold. The zucchini bread in all its glory. Can you hear the angels singing? I'm pretty sure I can.

Once the bread cools (I think I was waiting about 20 min), flip the pan over to remove the loaf. If you didn't grease your pan well enough you'll know it at this stage. And it pretty much sucks when that happens. Say goodbye to half your loaf.

Out of the pan to finish cooling. you know how I mentioned earlier that I pretty much go to a level of crazy on a project?'s why I say that regarding the zucchini bread...

The fruits of my labor.

I have to disclose here that this isn't even all of it. The counter on the right has about 10 more loaves at this stage. Total completion? Not counting the original batch that started this gig...there are 28 loaves of zucchini bread in my kitchen at the time this picture is taken. Now what the heck does anyone do with 28 loaves of zucchini bread? Well...I gave some to Patti, some to Mark and Collin & I each took some to work. That still left us with over a dozen.

For those not in the know, zucchini bread is a very moist bread so it will mold somewhat quickly. When I say somewhat quickly I mean around 2 weeks when kept at room temperature. (Whatever you do, do NOT store this stuff in the fridge. The consistency goes completely wonky and you will mold sooner.) So obviously we couldn't eat it all in time.

But don't that we've come full circle you already know the answer to the problem - FREEZE it!  I wrapped each loaf in saran wrap and then wrapped that in aluminum foil and then put the loaves into freezer bags. I don't mess around...there will be no freezer burn here. And to prove that my idea worked, I'm enjoying last November's zucchini bread this August. Not bad if I do say so myself.

In case you're wondering...there will be no zucchini bread making this year. There are still at least nine loaves in the freezer. When I do a job, I do it all the way. Happy bread making everyone!


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