Yes, I know. Another quickbread. Nothing like finding a theme and sticking to it, right? Right! In any case, I am SO EXCITED to share the best. zucchini bread. evar. This is a family heirloom recipe that I have been dying to get my hands on, literally, for years. Of course, the family in question is not quite my own, so that probably has something to do with how long it’s taken me to extract the recipe. That, and having to rely on teenage boys to do… well, just about anything.
This recipe, you see, comes from Brenda, mom to the WonderTwins’ friend-since-childhood, Mikey. And we’ve been the lucky recipients of a ”brendabread”–so called by WonderTwin A–every Christmas since forever. Even now that even the WonderTwins and their friends are, well, if not ALL, then mostly grown up, a long, foil-wrapped loaf of brendabread will still magically appear right before Christmas, where it is usually demolished in seconds… by wolves. We have nothing to do with it, I swear.
This Christmas, however, I was smart enough to hide our annual brendabread in the back of the refrigerator behind some very suspect leftovers, so we could enjoy it on Christmas morning. And enjoy we did, because as always, it was SO GOOD. Really. I mean, Proustian nonsense aside, this is really great stuff. Even better, I finally managed to get the recipe itself thanks to Mikey’s very organized wife. (There’s just something about blonde first-born children, isn’t there, Martha?)
Anyway, the recipe! Its success is all about balance and a restrained touch, I think. While the bread could accommodate far more of just about everything (spice, zucchini, raisins, nuts), it’s really perfect as is. Lushly moist with an even, tender crumb, it’s not too sweet and has just enough mix-ins to keep things interesting. Their relative sparseness makes it all the more exciting when you run across a plump raisin or toasty walnut.
As always, be sure to read the notes after the recipe for additional info.
Brendabread courtesy Brenda F.
Yield: 2 large or several smaller loaves*
1 1/2 c sugar
1 c vegetable oil
1 tsp vanilla
8 oz sour cream
1 lb zucchini
3 1/2 c flour
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 c raisins*
1 c walnuts, roughly chopped
Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter your loaf pans. Trim parchment paper to fit the long axis of each pan, leaving a 2-3″ overhang on each side. Butter again and flour lightly.
Using the large holes on a box grater, grate the zucchini. Bundle it up in a clean dish towel and wring it out. You’ll want to squeeze out about a third of its weight in liquid, leaving you with ~12oz/2 c of wrung-out zucchini. So, don’t kill yourself on this. You still want it dampish. Set aside.
In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs and sugar till foamy, about a min or so. Whisk in the oil, vanilla, sour cream, and zucchini. Set aside.
In a separate, medium bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon. Whisk together until totally homogeneous and not at all lumpy.
Using a wooden spoon, mix the dry ingredients into the wet and stir just till barely combined. Stir in the raisins and walnuts and continue just till evenly combined. Divide evenly among the prepared pans and bake for ~55 minutes, when a tester inserted into the center comes out clean–without any crumbs, but maybe with just the wee-est bit of sheen on it? You want it baked through, but still nicely moist.
Let cool in pans on rack for 10 min and lift loaves out using the overhanging parchment and return to racks to finish cooling. It actually benefits a bit from sitting, wrapped up tightly, for a day or so. Trying, I know, but try and wait a day before tearing into it. Each loaf seems to rehydrate itself after the rigors of baking.
Notes & Variations
On pan size, I think the original comes to in a 3.5 x 10 or 11″. Not a common size. I ended up using two 6.5 x 3″ and one 9 x 4.5″. The former baked in about 50 minutes, the latter in about 60. Just check for doneness regularly per the above and you’ll be fine regardless of loaf size.
Also, if your raisins are sad and dry, pour some hot tea or boiling water over them and let them sit for a few minutes before draining them and adding them to the batter. Happy raisins make for happy bread. And, even if you don’t like raisins, suck it up. They are part of Brendabread’s magical appeal. Even Daddy J, who will eat the cookie part of an oatmeal raisin cookie and leave a small heap of raisins on the plate, loves the Brendabread. Embrace the raisin.