28 July 2007

Double Chocolate Zucchini Bread

Prepare to succumb to total bliss. I adapted this recipe from several that I found on the Internet. If you're growing zucchini in your garden, this is the perfect recipe to use for those zucchinis you don't notice until they're ridiculously big.

Although this might look complicated to a novice baker, it's really quite an easy recipe; it just has a lot of ingredients to combine. Grating the zucchini can be a little time consuming, but the result is so well worth it.

I've also added a way to make this TRIPLE chocolate zucchini bread. Mmm... no no, you don't have to thank me. ;)

Double Chocolate Zucchini Bread

1/2 lb or 2 c grated zucchini
4 c all-purpose flour
1/2 c cocoa
1 1/2 c sugar (1 c white, 1/2 c brown)
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1 1/2 c oil
3 eggs
2 tsp vanilla
1 c semisweet chocolate chips

For half of batter:
1/4 c toffee bits
1/4 c walnut pieces
1/2 c bittersweet chocolate chips (if you want triple chocolate zucchini bread - and who doesn't?!)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (375 for high altitude). Butter two 8 x 4" loaf pans.

Grate zucchini. In large bowl, combine dry ingreedients.

In another bowl, combine zucchini with remaining ingredients except chocolate chips and optional stir-ins. Stir zucchini mixture into dry ingredients just until blended. Stir in chocolate chips, toffee and walnuts.

Pour batter into pans; bake until toothpick in center comes out clean, ~ 1 hour 15 minutes. Cool on rack 10 minutes, then remove from pan. Devour.

27 July 2007

Mmmm... bread.

I just read this in an "On This Day" email, from May 29th:

Bread is a basic food made from a flour-and-water dough, normally with yeast, baked in an oven. No other food is as redolent of myth, rite, and tradition as bread. Central to meals until almost the end of the second millennium (more so than meat), it is indeed the 'staff of life.' Breadmaking dates back to at least 9000 BC; the first breads were cooked on heated bakestones, many of which survive. The invention of leavened bread (around 5000 BC) is attributed to the Egyptians, who made bread from millet and barley and may have discovered fermentation by chance when a piece of dough became sour. In the Middle Ages, the bakery trade developed in diversity and complexity. Part of the baker's art is the careful choice of ingredients and the manipulation of factors such as oven temperature, length of baking time, and humidity, all of which affect the crumb, thickness, and quality of bread crust.

I hadn't realized that bread dated back quite so far. I love bread, and it's so much fun to bake. The feeling of accomplishment when you pull out a yummy-smelling loaf of bread or some delectable-looking biscuits is tremendous... at least, for me - I suppose because baking always seemed so difficult to me before I started learning from Janet and Grandma.

Here's one of my favorite bread recipes - Irish soda bread. This recipe is adapted from the Moosewood Restaurant's Low-Fat Favorites cookbook and Bernard Clayton's Complete Book of Breads.

Irish Soda Bread

1 1/2 c unbleached white flour
1 1/2 c whole wheat flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
2 T packed brown sugar
4 T cold butter
1 egg
1 c buttermilk

Preheat oven to 375 deg. F. Lightly oil baking sheet. Mix dry ingredients. Cut in the butter with a pastry blender or using two knives.

In a separate bowl, mix wet ingredients. Make a well in the middle of the dry ingredients, and pour the wet mixture into the well. Stir until evenly moist.

Turn onto lightly floured surface, kneading just a little. Mound on baking sheet into ~ 9" domed loaf. Lightly cut an X in the top with a sharp knife. Bake ~ 45 minutes.