Baking with Produce.
Too many bananas and zucchinis are a problem. A tasty, tasty problem. Because when you know how to bake a little sumthin’ sumthin’ with your excess produce, a pain in your crisper or countertop becomes a warm and fuzzy feeling in your belly. Today I’m focusing on bananas and zucchini, because I always tend to have too many of them around at any given point during the year, but you know you can also take other healthy things like carrots and beets and sweet potatoes (not to mention, duh, fruit) and make them a little less healthy by baking them into sweet and tasty treats, so don’t let this limit you!
First up, banana bread! Until very recently, I didn’t think I liked banana bread. I really like fresh, barely ripe bananas, but once they become overripe and mushy, I tend not to dig them as much, and isn’t that exactly what banana bread is? Old bananas? Well, sort of, but also you have sugar and fat and spices and that makes it nice. My friend Becca invited me over for lunch and banana bread baking, and that’s when I discovered my new love. We veganized this recipe that contains millet for some crunch, but I wasn’t such a fan of the crunch. I was, however, enough of a fan of the flavor to go home and bake another loaf that very same day.
Gosh I love it when bread does that crackly thing on top. This is a modified version of the lower fat banana bread in Veganomicon. I skanked it up a bit because I didn’t have any applesauce, so I made it with 1/3 cup of canola oil and called it a day (and also added a pinch of cloves). Worked just fine! The texture was a little less dense than the first loaf, which had an almost custard-like texture, and more like, well…banana flavored bread, which at first I didn’t like, but then I did. I ate a slice with some decaf Earl Grey tea (another thing I discovered that I don’t hate, and on that very same day) for breakfast the rest of the week. Such a comforting way to start the day!
Next up, my favorite way to junk up a vegetable – zucchini muffins! You could easily make a loaf out of these, but I like the convenience of the muffins, plus I put half the batch into the freezer so I wouldn’t be tempted to eat all of them right away. And now that I’ve written this, I remember that I still have a few in there! Breakfast tomorrow! About a million years ago when I first started cooking vegan food (ok, more like 6 years ago), I posted on VegWeb a lot (do they even still have a forum?). This was before I knew about the PPK (which is before I got a little too busy to post anywhere, really). Not that one is better than the other, per se, but I just kind of happen to be more of a PPK kind of gal. Still, a totally serious amount of my first vegan recipes and advice came from VegWeb, and for that I will be forever grateful. We did a package swap at one point, and a great vegan cook (who now also posts on the PPK!) sent me these muffins. I had never before had zucchini bread or muffins that I liked, so I asked her for the recipe and she sent it to me. And really long story short, I’m now going to share it with you. I’m not sure where she originally got it, but the way the recipe is worded led me to believe it isn’t her original recipe, so I don’t feel too bad posting it here. But this is not my original recipe either. (Anyone that can tell me where it comes from, let me know and I’ll link it up appropriately.)
Enough with the disclaimers and blithering, right? On to the sweet, spiced, tender muffins! (By the way, the measurements are a little weird here [4.5 tsp and 6 Tbsp], but I don’t have 1/8 cup or half Tablespoon measures, so we’re going with it.)
4 1/2 tsp Ener-G Egg Replacer (or 3 Tbsp ground flaxseed, but I used the Ener-G)
6 Tbsp water (1/2 cup if using flax)
1 cup of canola oil (or 1/2 cup oil and 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce, but I do full fat, why not?)
1 Tbsp white distilled vinegar
2 cups granulated sugar
2 cups grated zucchini (no need to peel)
2 tsp vanilla extract
3 cups all-purpose flour or whole wheat pastry (I used AP, but would use whole wheat pastry if I had it)
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
Preheat the oven to 375°F. Line 2 muffin tins with paper cups (or lightly grease loaf or mini-loaf pans). In a large bowl, whisk together the Ener-G and water (or flax and flax water measurements) until foamy (or thick and creamy), about two minutes. Add oil, vinegar, and sugar, and whisk to combine. Stir in zucchini and vanilla extract.
In a medium bowl, sift together flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Add dry to wet and stir until just combined. Fill muffin tins 3/4 full and bake in prepared oven 25-30 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the middle of a muffin comes out clean. If making standard loaves, bake 60-70 minutes; for mini-loaves, 40-45 minutes.
I hope you all enjoy these sumptuous, green flecked beauties as much as I do! It’s always nice to say you have a go-to recipe for any given thing you love, the recipe that you don’t stray from, because you’ve tried a bunch before and you finally, finally found the one. You know, like I have for nacho cheese sauce (Yellow Rose Recipes, what!) or blueberry muffins (Joy of Vegan Baking forever and ever) or buffalo anything (you know I’m looking at you, Appetite for Reduction). So this is my go-to for zucchini baked tastiness, every year when my crisper is overflowing with zucchini, and now maybe it will be yours as well!