How is it that in all of this time blogging and baking things, I’ve never posted a classic vegan zucchini bread recipe? I’m correcting that today, having happily enjoyed this moist, tender loaf in the past week.
This is a really great thing to do with all the zucchini that might be stacking up at your local farmer’s market. Or, if you have a garden and it’s teeming with zucchini right now, this is one place that your vegetables can go.
Here’s what I love about this quickbread: simplicity. It’s pretty much a one bowl recipe. No complicated steps, as with this pumpkin chocolate marble loaf. No mix-ins aside from the zucchini, though you’re welcome to add chocolate chips or nuts if they’re calling to you. Unlike a lot of quickbreads that I make, it isn’t heavily loaded with autumnal baking spices. It’s only mildly spiced with cinnamon.
The loaf is plenty moist and tender, thanks to the zucchini. And that’s what stands out about it: no bells or whistles, nothing more or less. It’s delicious the way it is. Like many of my favorite baked goods—banana bread, cranberry walnut muffins, and more—it’s nice as an afternoon treat and also very nice at breakfast.
There are lots of approaches to handling the zucchini in zucchini bread. Some recipes call for leaving the grated zucchini as moist as it is upon grating. Others call for squeezing the zucchini before adding it to batter, so as not to make an overly wet loaf.
For this classic vegan zucchini bread, I took a middle-of-the-road approach, pressing my grated zucchini gently with a tea towel to remove a little extra moisture, but not squeezing it dry. It’s the perfect amount of moisture, at least for me!
Most zucchini recipes that I’ve looked at have a range of one to two cups of grated zucchini. I found that two was too much (my loaf turned out “salady,” to quote this column). On the other hand, the zucchini seemed to get lost when I used only a cup.
In the end, I went for a cup and a half, or about 145 grams. It’s a lightly packed, level cup. If you like a more cake-like texture in your quickbreads, you can grate your zucchini on a microplane grater, as I do in my favorite carrot cake recipe. If you do use finely grated zucchini, one and one quarter cups is perfect (and should also be about 145 grams).
You’ll see that this recipe doesn’t call for egg replacer of any kind. I often find that quickbreads don’t really need an egg replacer to rise and have good structure. Adding flax egg to a loaf or muffin unnecessarily can make for a gummy texture, at least in my experience. And I love using aquafaba, but I usually save it for layer cakes and cookies, which have more delicate texture.
There’s no flax egg, yogurt, mashed banana, or applesauce in this classic vegan zucchini bread. Just vegetable oil and vegan buttermilk (non-dairy milk + lemon) in the wet ingredients. The combination of leavening agent and buttermilk is really enough to help this bread rise and keep its shape.
Speaking of, I tend to find that my quick breads can be a little flat—or even sunken on top—unless I bake them about 5 minutes longer than I think I need to. The same goes for this recipe. I had the nicest rise when I left the bread in the oven for at least a full fifty minutes. Fifty-five minutes didn’t hurt. A longer baking time means a beautiful, deep golden exterior and a light, set interior.
I used all-purpose flour for this recipe, though I’m pretty sure that white whole wheat or light spelt flour would work as well. If there’s a gluten free flour mix that you love and use often, you can swap it directly for the all-purpose flour.
In place of oil, you can try using applesauce or non-dairy yogurt. I haven’t tried either in this loaf yet, but I’ve had good results with both substitutes in other quickbreads. Sometimes, I stir a little tahini into either applesauce or yogurt for extra moisture.
As I mentioned, I kept the spices pretty minimal here, so that the simplicity of the vegan zucchini bread could shine through. But you’re welcome to add a spice that you love to the batter. A pinch of cardamom, some nutmeg, and a bit of ground ginger would all be very nice.
It’s funny: zucchini always registers in my mind as a late summer vegetable. And so zucchini treats are usually something that I make in August and September, even into October. It’s hitting me for the first time that August is really and truly in full swing.
I guess that quick passage of time is the least remarkable thing to say about this strange period we’re all living through. But still, where did the unusual summer of 2020 go? I’ve so appreciated having warm weather as part of reopening in NYC: it makes sitting and walking and meeting outdoors a lot easier.
I’m intent on enjoying this last official month of summer as much as I possibly can, regardless of the circumstances and all that’s happening in the world. Zucchini bread is one extra way to make it sweet.