July 07, 2014

zucchini bread with brown sugar & oats crumble

My friend Courtney sent me a text saying she was overwhelmed by her garden's output and she needed to unload some veggies on me. Um, yes absolutely! Now let me say this...in the South, we deliver stuff to people in Walmart sacks...returned pie dishes, shorts that our kids borrowed at impromptu sleepovers, etc. So I was expecting a Walmart sack of veggies hanging on the doorknob. But instead, she had piled a big BIG basket full of squash, tomatoes, cucumbers, and several varieties of peppers! And even though the basket had a handle on it, I had to carry it from the bottom with both arms wrapped around it because it was so. so. heavy. I actually shrieked out loud when I saw the bounty!! Don't we love friends with gardens?! I do! I do!

There was also a note that said "Don't laugh at the size of the squash." She was right. The squash was enormous. And quite awkward. And I laughed til I snorted! Then I immediately went into zucchini mode, thinking up ways to cook and bake with it over the weekend. I can't bear to let fresh produce go to waist. It grieves my soul. So I've had a weekend-long date with zucchini, and I'm pretty sure I fell in love. With zucchini bread.

Now, I make several sweet breads that I absolutely love. But this zucchini bread with brown sugar & oat crumble just moved into the #1 spot on my list of sweet breads, moving pumpkin bread and lemon purpleberry bread into #2 and #3 slots. It's divine, y'all. This bread is dense (the loaves weigh a ton!). It is moist, sweet, nutty, cinnamony, and the crumble topping is brown-sugary with a little sweet, earthy bite from the sprinkle of oats. I have had it both at room temperature and warmed with butter, and it's a toss-up. Both are perfect. Try it. And you'll see why I fell in love!

-click here for printable recipe-

{makes 2 loaves}

3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
3 large eggs, room temperature
1 cup vegetable oil {I use canola}
2 1/4 cups white sugar
3 teaspoons good vanilla extract
2 cups fresh grated zucchini
1 cup chopped walnuts

-for the topping-
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup oats
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 cup soft butter
*Euna Mae's is a Great Day Farms ambassador

Grease and flour two 8x4 loaf pans or spray with Baker's Joy. I prefer glass or stoneware. Do not use metal pans for this bread. Set pans aside and preheat oven for 325.
In a large mixing bowl preferably with a pour spout, whisk together flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and nutmeg. 
I suggest using a box grater with the next-to-smallest holes to grate the zucchini because you want the flavor and color of the zucchini and not big hunks of it in your bites. I place the box grater over a small half-sheet pan to collect not only the grated zucchini but also the zucchini liquid. Set aside.
In a large bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat eggs, oil, sugar, and vanilla together until combined. With the mixer on low, slowly mix in the dry ingredients until just combined. Then slowly mix in the grated zucchini with juice. Mix just until combined. Stir the walnuts in by hand, making sure to fold them in so they're distributed well.
Divide the batter between the two prepared pans. Place the pans on a baking sheet and place in the center rack of the preheated oven. Set a timer for 15 minutes.
While the loaves are baking, mix together the brown sugar, flour, oats, salt, cinnamon, and soft butter with a dinner fork, mashing together to crumble and mix the butter in well. When the 15 minute timer goes off, divide the crumble topping between the loaves of bread and return to bake for another 45 minutes. Test cakes with toothpicks or cake testers every 3-4 minutes until toothpicks come out moist-clean. Cool pans for 15 minutes before removing loaves to platters for additional cooling. Store at room temperature covered well with clear wrap.