Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Zucchini Muesli Bread

In my twenties it seemed like zucchini bread showed up at every bake sale or pot luck during the summer. Usually they were moist and sweet, very spiced and heavy quick breads.

Recently at the Bread Baker's Dog, I posted a yeasted zucchini bread that was savory instead of sweet, rich with the Mediterranean flavors of Parmesan cheese, pine nuts and basil.

The zucchini keeps on coming, even from the lazy woman's planting that I made in desperation the day before my vacation.

I still had zucchini and cucumber seedlings and not enough time to plant them 'properly', so I took a 2 cubic foot bag of potting soil, laid it flat...well it sloped downhill a bit, but that is OK for drainage...and cut holes in the plastic bag. Into each hole I put a seedling. Since there was some fertilizer in the potting soil mix, I figured that with regular watering the plants would make it for three weeks and then I could transplant them to pots. Imagine my delight to find that they were quite happy in their bag.

The zucchini I used today for this bread was from that group of plants and it was fully a foot long and shredded into more than the required two cups! I've also started harvesting lemon cucumbers from the bag plantings. It is something that you might want to try, especially if you don't have a place to garden, but have a sunny spot to place a bag of soil. The important thing is to make sure to water it regularly and not let the soil dry out.

Today I wanted to make the quick bread version, so I started looking through my cookbooks. I found that more recently published books didn't have a sweet quick bread version. When I looked in older cookbooks I found out why. The traditional recipe apparently used a full cup of oil for each two cups of zucchini...that's a lot of oil.

Lately I've been thinking about making a muesli bread, too. Muesli is a combination of whole grain flakes, nuts and dried fruits. We ate a lot of it while in Ireland. It was available each morning as part of the full Irish breakfast. We haven't found a ready made variety here that is as good as what we had in Ireland, but I'm thinking of making my own. My favorite store-bought, the kind from Bob's Red Mill, has red wheat, rye, barley and oat flakes and some almonds and date clusters.

It occurred to me that I could combine zucchini and home made muesli in a quick bread, use less oil, and see what happened. As it turned out, trying to figure out the proportions from scratch takes a lot of time.

I kept the two cups of shredded zucchini and used a clean flour sack towel to squeeze out the excess liquid.

Then I took some of a combination of whole grain flakes that I found at a local store and added some buttermilk and regular milk (because I ran out of buttermilk) and let that combination sit for half an hour while I figured out the rest. That allowed the grains to soften a bit as they absorbed some of the liquids.

For the rest of the muesli, I took a handful of whole natural almonds and chopped them roughly, added some golden raisins (because I love them), some dried cranberries (for color and sweetness), some chopped dates (contrast and more sweetness) and some extra old-fashioned oats for some texture.

The most difficult part was to figure out how much flour would be needed. I started with 1 1/2 cups which was mixed with the leaveners and salt and cinnamon, but added another 1/2 cup before adding the almond-date-oats-raisin-cranberry mixture. Still, it was a successful experiment...the bread is delicious, moist, with lots of flavor and texture from the zucchini and muesli additions, plus a hint of cinnamon.

Now that I have the recipe figured out, I suspect I'll be making a lot of this bread over the summer.

Zucchini Muesli Bread

½ cup mixed-grain flakes (mine has red wheat, barley, rye and oat flakes)
1/3 cup buttermilk
½ cup milk
2 large egg
1/3 cup vegetable oil (I used safflower)
1 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cup shredded zucchini, extra moisture squeezed out
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon cinnamon
½ cup old-fashioned rolled oats
½ cup natural almonds, chopped
½ cup pitted dates, chopped
¼ cup dried cranberries
¼ cup golden raisins

In a small bowl, combine the multi-grain flakes (rolled whole grains) and the buttermilk and milk. Let sit for at least ½ hour.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour a 9 x 5 inch bread pan.

In a large mixing bowl combine the eggs, vegetable oil, brown sugar and vanilla. Let sit 10 minutes.

Add the zucchini and the mixed-grain and milk mixture and mix to combine.

Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon into a bowl or onto a sheet of waxed paper. Set aside.

On a sheet of waxed paper, combine the rolled oats, chopped almonds, chopped dates, dried cranberries and golden raisins. Set aside.

On low speed, or with just enough strokes to mix, combine the flour mixture with the zucchini mixture. Once just combined, add the almond-raisin-cranberry-date-oat mixture and stir just until blended.

Pour batter into the prepared pan, smooth the top and place in the preheat oven. Bake approximately an hour, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Cool on a rack for 15 minutes, and then run a knife around the edges to loosen the loaf and turn out of the pan to cool completely.

Best cut when fully cooled. Makes one loaf.


  1. I have a friend currently DROWNING in her zucchini crop; the savory one will excite her no end. She just started doing chocolate and zucchini bread...

  2. Sounds quite yummy! The savory version ... as well! Yum!

  3. Lovely bread. Should be good trail food for hiking in autumn.

  4. (kathunk) that's my jaw hitting the table ... no ... NO oil.
    That crumb looks so fantastic, I am in awe of this one!!

  5. Tanita, Would she share the chocolate zucchini bread recipe?

    DaviMack...both were tasty!

    Andreas, Had not thought of it as trail food, but it would indeed be good that way.

    Tanna, Full disclosure...there is a little oil, just not much. This way you taste the veggie and fruits and nuts more :)

  6. I meant to share Jama's recipe with you awhile ago! I think you guys will like each other. She shares her recipe here.