Sunday, April 25, 2010
Courgette (Zucchini) Bread
Back when I was in the Peace Corps (I know, I know) I took spring break 1998 to visit Mike V. on Mafia Island, a small island off the coast of mainland Tanganyika. Mafia is exactly what you would expect from a desert island in the Indian Ocean, complete with a fantastic coral reef. Luckily, V was friends with the folks who ran the scuba dives from the main resort on the island. Which means...free scuba diving!
Yet it does seem kind of rude to just tag along on a dive trip, especially since the resort prepares lunch for the guests, so we had to bring our own lunch. Since it was pumpkin season on Mafia (who knew?) we also decided to bring some homemade pumpkin bread to barter for some better food. Although we lacked a real oven, it's possible to make quick breads by building a very basic "convection" oven. You put one sufuria (a pot without a handle) on a three piles of coins inside another larger sufuria which is placed on a kerosene stove. When you cover the large sufuria, convection will bring heat all the way around the bread. It works pretty well, although temperature control is a fine art that depends on the temperament of your kerosene stove.
Joining us on the dive trip that day (pictured above) were the resort folks, Sam (who was British), and a woman whose name eludes me for the moment (who was a white Kenyan). The paying guests were a nice family from Denmark who were very blond. At lunch we brought out the pumpkin bread, and everybody was baffled. Bread made with pumpkin? Nobody had ever heard of such a preposterous thing! Sam said incredulously, "what other crazy things do you Americans make...courgette bread?"
Indeed we do!
In spite of their apprehension, everybody enjoyed the bread and I got two more free days of diving that week.
Courgette (Zucchini) Bread
The following recipe is adapted from Jillicious Discoveries, where it was adapted from Baking Illustrated, where it was adapted from Cook's Illustrated. Apparently you can add nuts to this, but I say "nuts to that!"
2 cups (10 oz) all-purpose flour
3/4 cup (5.5 oz) sugar
1 lb zucchini, or courgette, depending on where you're from
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup plain yogurt
2 Tbs lemon juice
6 Tbs unsalted butter, melted. Or may I suggest browned?
Cut off ends of zucchini and grate on large holes of box grater. Mix 2 Tbs of sugar with shredded zucchini and put in a large strainer over a bowl to drain for at least 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Take a 9x5 inch loaf pan, and grease it. Cut out a piece of parchment paper for the bottom of the loaf pan, insert, and grease and flour the whole thing, tapping out excess flour. Whisk flour, salt, baking soda, baking powder in a medium bowl. In a separate medium bowl, whisk sugar, eggs, yogurt, lemon juice, and butter. Take the zucchini and squeeze in paper towels to remove as much moisture as possible. The pumpkin squeezing method works quite well here. Gently mix dry ingredients, wet ingredients, and zucchini together with a spatula. Pour into loaf pan, and bake for 45-55 minutes, until toothpick inserted into center comes out clean.