The end of a long holiday weekend, I find, inspires a renewed resolve in the diet realm. Where I was slathering a brat with mustard and reaching for another frosty beer just a day or two ago, I am now yearning for leafy greens and sparkling water. The Fourth of July, it seems, breeds an earnest in me. For a couple of days, that is.
And this bread is just the post-holiday thing, ready to chase away any over-indulgences of the weekend past. Chalk full of whole grains, super-powered flaxseed, and tangy yogurt, this bread is about as earnest as it gets. Sure it’s got a sweetness, but it’s only a whisper. The main ingredient of this bread is a vegetable, for pete’s sake!
It’s a happy thing when zucchini bread season rolls around. As if overnight, the stuff starts showing up in bakery cases and picnic baskets around July. And each recipe is a little different. Some involve chocolate, laced with chips or flavored with cocoa powder; some are deeply spiced; some are dark and some are more blonde; some are dense, while others are light.
This one is hearty and tender and complex. The chopped pecans distributed through the batter and the whole pecans that bake atop the loaf lend a nice meatiness, while a dusting of raw sugar imparts a shimmer and a sweet crunch. And, like I said, it’s earnest enough for the Fifth, Sixth or Seventh of July.
Adapted from Cooking Light
2 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup ground flaxseed
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 cups shredded zucchini (about 2 medium zucchini)
1 cup plain yogurt
3 tablespoons canola oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup chopped pecans, toasted
3 tablespoons whole pecans, toasted
1 tablespoon raw or sanding sugar (optional)
Preheat oven to 350°.
Combine flour, granulated sugar, and next 7 ingredients (through nutmeg) in a large bowl, stirring well with a whisk.
Spread zucchini onto several layers of heavy-duty paper towels; cover with additional paper towels. Press down firmly to remove excess liquid.
Combine yogurt, eggs, oil, and vanilla in a medium bowl, stirring well with a whisk. Stir in zucchini.
Add zucchini mixture and 1/4 cup pecans to flour mixture, stirring until well combined. Pour batter into a 9 x 5-inch loaf pan coated with cooking spray. Sprinkle batter with 3 tablespoons whole pecans and 1 tablespoon raw sugar (optional).
Bake at 350° for 1 hour or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pan 10 minutes on a wire rack. Remove bread from pan; place on wire rack.