The poem in my heart today is fall, fall, fall. I know we're only halfway through August. But I can feel things changing. The sun seems as though it is shining through a creamy grey filter. The vibrant edges of nature are being softened. The crickets are chirping still, but to a more lethargic tempo. The birds have been visiting the feeder often. I think they feel a keener hunger in their bellies. They can sense the change, too.
And I can feel myself winding down. This has been a fantastically free summer - free of alarm clocks, free of crunched time, free of tedium. But after all that freedom, I can feel my mind and my body drawing themselves toward routine again. Though I don't quite want to admit it, the deep parts of me are yearning for fall and its cool, steady ways.
So what does a girl do with all this pent-up autumnal desire? Naturally, she bakes.
Now is the perfect time for zucchini bread, because zukes are in season. Being married to a farmer and all, I have more zukes than I know what to do with. If one ever topples out of its box at the shop and gets bruised or broken, I am the heiress.
There are some recipes with which I refuse to tamper, and zucchini bread is one of them (chocolate chip cookies are another). In cases such as these, I always defer to my main girl, Betty Crocker. And so the recipe you'll find below is taken from "The Big Red Cookbook," page 104. There are only a few minor adaptations, mainly the omission of nuts or raisins. Perhaps you have one of these ruby cookbooks in your own kitchen. If it's anything like mine, the pages are stuck together with strange substances and the covers are coated in flour. If you and Betty are particularly close, the binding is probably falling apart, too.
This recipe makes two glorious, spongy loafs of bread. I suppose you could freeze one for later, but in our house we eat one while it's hot and the other within the next few days. The flavor is amazing - each slice has a crunchy outside and chewy, not-too-sweet inside. And it's even better with a slab of butter melted over the top. But the smell is the real clincher. After fifteen minutes or so in the oven, your house will be filled with a heavenly warmth. Its autumn spiciness will make you want to sing, and then go put on wool socks. I'm telling you - once you smell this bread, you will feel the change I'm talking about.
Summer is beginning its sad and sweet transition into fall. Whether the changing air enlivens or dismays you, I encourage you to embrace it properly and bake some zucchini bread. It always makes things better.
Love well and eat well, friends.
Recipe for Zucchini Bread Recipe adapted from "The New Edition of the Big Red Cookbook" by Betty Crocker Ingredients
- 3 cups shredded zuke (2 or 3 medium)
- 1 2/3 cups sugar
- 2/3 cup veggie oil
- 2 teaspoons vanilla
- 4 eggs
- 3 cups flour
- 2 teaspoons baking soda
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease the bottoms of 2 (8 by 4 inch) loaf pans.
- In large bowl, mix zucchini, sugar, oil, vanilla, and eggs. Stir in remaining ingredients. Divide batter evenly between the 2 pans.
- Bake 50-60 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out of the center clean. Cool 10 minutes in the pans on a cooling rack.
- Flip the pans and place top side of the loaves up on the cooling rack. Allow to cool completely (about 2 hours, but let's be real... that never happens) before slicing.