Our zucchini harvest season is winding down, but we still have a few large specimens awaiting their fate on the kitchen counter. If the zucchini is small and tender, I’ll usually eat it without much ado: lightly sautéed and seasoned with salt and pepper. The larger ones, however, have a tougher skin, larger seeds and not as delicate of flavor, so those are usually reserved for batch after batch of zucchini bread which I’ll freeze and eat, or give away to friends and family throughout the year.
My zucchini bread recipe stems from a recipe given to my husband by his family. I’ve experimented and tweaked some things here and there, and have come up with my own well-worn and loved variation. Every kitchen witch has their own method, after all.
For me, the chopped dates are essential. The original recipe calls for chopped nuts, which are also delicious, but I reduce the sugar from its original 2 ¼ cup down to 1 ½ (or less), so the dates give it a little added sweetness. The real magic in the dates, however, is in their texture. They almost melt into the bread while it’s baking.
1 cup butter, softened
1 1/2 cup sugar (I usually only use 1 cup)
2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups grated zucchini
3 cups all-purpose flour
3 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup chopped dates
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease two standard-sized loaf pans.
Cream together the butter and sugar. Add eggs one at a time until fully incorporated. Mix in the vanilla and grated zucchini.
In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, ground cinnamon, grated nutmeg, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Add to the wet ingredients and stir until just combined, scraping down the sides of the bowl. Fold in the chopped dates.
Divide the batter evenly between the two loaf pans and place on the center rack in preheated oven. Bake for 60 minutes, or until the top is golden brown and an inserted toothpick comes out clean.
Let loaves cool for 20 minutes before removing from loaf pans. Serve immediately or store in aluminum foil. Loaves can be frozen and thawed at room temperature when ready to serve.