My sister’s veterinary practice is definitely in the country. While she doesn’t exactly get paid through barter, her patients’ parents frequently bring by gifts from their kitchens and gardens. Like a couple weeks ago, when one of the paw parents dropped off a very large zucchini. Since I am her personal chef in the summer, I was requested to make zucchini bread. After searching Pinterest for inspiration, and searching through her pantry, cupboards, and fridge for ingredients, I landed on a great idea. So instead of just straight up zucchini bread, I was going to make carrot-cake-style zucchini muffins.
See, I told you it was large. For comparison, that’s a regular-sized red delicious apple. My 8 inch chef knife, including handle, was just about two-thirds the length of this beast. When working with a zucchini this size, especially when you get to the thicker part of it, you probably want to remove the seeds, and possibly the skin, depending on how thick it was. I used the top third of it for these muffins, skin, seeds, and all. Then, I used the rest of it to make a zucchini casserole for dinner (which I promise to post later!), and removing the seeds was definitely the way to go – they were pumpkin seed-sized and a bit tough. To do so, I cut the zucchini into quarters the long way, and using a regular tablespoon, just scooped out the middle to remove the seeds.
The muffins were made with pretty common pantry and fridge items. If my sister has it in her kitchen, without me having to buy it, I regard it as a common ingredient. From the following recipe, I actually made one bread loaf and 12 large muffins, but you could make two loaves or 24 muffins from it. These muffins freeze beautifully, and you can just pop them in the microwave or toaster oven to warm them up when you’re ready to eat. I actually have a tupperware full of them in my freezer right now, waiting for coffee and cool fall mornings on my way to school. I have smeared them with plain cream cheese after I made them at home. And, they would be dynamite with a cream cheese frosting, too.
A couple more tricks: First, definitely drain your zucchini. Before I do any other prep work, I grate the zucchini and let it sit in a colander in the sink while I do the other stuff. Then, I usually also squeeze the bejeezus out of it before adding it to the batter. The more water you get out, the less likely you will get soggy muffins! Second, when portioning muffin batter into the tins, if you have one of those spring-loaded ice cream scoops (the ones that scoop the scoop out of the scoop with a little metal band), those are SUPER helpful. I learned this trick while working in a coffee/bakery/sandwich/ice cream shop in college. You can get them in a ton of different sizes. Makes cookie-making a breeze, too. I have a one ounce scoop that makes perfectly-sized and -shaped chocolate chip cookies. Check Amazon. 😉
- 3¼ cups sifted flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 3 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ cup white sugar
- 1 cup brown sugar
- ¼ cup molasses
- ⅓ cup vegetable oil
- ⅓ cup applesauce
- 3 eggs
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
- 2 cups grated zucchini
- 1 cup grated carrot
- ¾ cup chopped pecans or walnuts
- Preheat oven to 325. If making bread, grease bread tins. If making muffins, grease muffin tin or use paper muffin cups.
- First, in a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt.
- Then, in a large bowl, combine brown sugar, white sugar, molasses, oil, and applesauce. Add eggs one at a time, mixing well before adding each egg. Mix in vanilla and ginger until well-incorporated.
- Gently fold the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients. Do not overmix or this will make your bread or muffins tough!
- Once other ingredients are mixed, add in zucchini, carrots, and nuts. Gently stir until just combined.
- If making bread, divide the mixture between the two prepared bread tins. If making muffins, spoon into prepared muffin tins.
- Bake in preheated oven for at least 25 minutes for muffins or, 50 minutes for bread. However, you may need to cook longer depending on how wet your zucchini was. Check for doneness with a toothpick inserted in the middle. If the toothpick comes out totally clean, they are done. Since these muffins are pretty moist, they can stand up to being left in the oven a little longer than you might think necessary. In addition, the batter is already dark from the molasses and spices, and you can't rely on color for doneness. Definitely be sure the toothpick is clean before taking them out, or you might have some underdone centers!