For the sixteen weeks of the year when Minnesota produce is bountiful, I keep a CSA journal to record what arrives in our box each week and what we make with it. I like to page back through the years to see when the season's first raspberries arrived, to recall my favorite summertime recipes, and perhaps most importantly, to figure out what to do with an abundance of zucchini.
My journal reveals a constant cycle of fajita zucchini rice bowls, gnocchi with zucchini and feta, and linguine with zucchini and chickpeas, but my favorite zucchini recipe, chocolate zucchini bread, makes an infrequent appearance. Quite simply, this is because I can't be trusted with it. I start with three reasonable slices, and then I have another one to even off the loaf, and then I have another one just because. Before I know it half the loaf is gone, and I have a pounding headache from eating half a cup of sugar first thing in the morning. I don't know what makes this particular baked good so addicting; possibly it's that the zucchini lends an irresistible moist texture, or maybe it's the subtle depth of the cocoa powder. It might be wrapped up with a nostalgia for the glorious months of teenage summer vacations, when I could sleep in until nine and a loaf of freshly-made zucchini bread would be waiting for me on the cutting board (thanks, Mom!).
I like to shred fresh zucchini and freeze it in 2-cup portions for future cold-weather bread baking (the bread itself also freezes well). The pans are prepared using my mom's method described below and more fully in her banana bread recipe.
- 3 eggs
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- 1 cup canola oil
- 1 tablespoon vanilla
- 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
- 2 cups shredded zucchini, completely thawed if frozen (if using thawed frozen zucchini, don't drain it; you need to include all of the liquid to give the bread its moist texture)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
Grease the short ends of two 8 inch x 4 inch loaf pans. Line the sides and bottom of pans with a sheet of wax paper, leaving a few inches of extra wax paper on each side so that the bread can be easily lifted from the pans.
In a large bowl, thoroughly mix the eggs, sugar, oil, and vanilla. Stir in the flour, cocoa, salt, baking soda, cinnamon, and baking powder and mix until smooth. Stir in the zucchini and mix until smooth (if using thawed frozen zucchini, be sure to incorporate all of the liquid into the batter).
Pour the batter into the prepared pans.
Bake for 50 minutes, or until a cake tester or toothpick inserted into the middle of the loaves comes out clean.
Place loaves in pan on a wire rack to cool for 10 minutes. Holding both sides of the wax paper, remove loaves from pans, gently loosening the ends with a spatula if needed. Place loaves on wire rack to cool completely. Peel wax paper from cooled loaves, tightly wrap, and store in refrigerator.
If you’re not going to eat the bread within a day or two, bread can also be stored in the freezer and then thawed before eating.