Monday, July 11, 2011

Social Loafing

I never use my loaf pan. I use the other baking pans all the time - the cookie sheets and the muffin tins, and even the tart pan and the springforms. But the loaf pan just sits there, forlorn, in the cabinet high above the stove, waiting for its day. Patiently waiting. And waiting.

Well, my little loaf pan's day arrived on July 4. (Again, catching up on these blog posts!)

On the last airplane I was on, I ran across a recipe for Zucchini Cornbread in my July issue of Bon Appetit that looked absolutely delicious. I really love any and all corn-based items, and zucchini is one of my summer-favorite veggies (probably because Mom always made such delicious sauteed zucchini for us growing up). I was intrigued by the summery combination of these two ingredient loves. 

Fresh summer zucchini.
But, it was a loaf. Not charming little muffins or little cakes. A whole loaf. The problem with the loaf is that...well, I live alone. I need not eat an entire loaf of anything. Ever. 

Luckily, I was headed to a 4th of July potluck party where there would be many mouths to feed. The perfect time for a little social loafing. (Yes, that is a social psychology pun. Sorry.)

Yield: Makes a whole freakin' loaf


1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter plus more for pan
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 large zucchini (about 10 ounces) - as you can see, I used two smaller zucchinis and just weighed them to be sure I had about 10 ounces
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 cup medium-grind cornmeal


Position a rack in the middle of oven and preheat to 350°F. Butter a 9x5x3" loaf pan.

Melt 1/2 cup butter in a small saucepan over medium-high heat.
The recipe cannot be bad if it starts like this.

Continue cooking until butter solids at bottom of pan turn golden brown, about 3 minutes.
Scrape butter into a medium bowl. Set aside and let cool. 
It's hard to describe how good this smells. A little bit like fried chicken, only cleaner and maybe a bit nuttier. It smells like delicious. The brown butter is absolutely the trick to this recipe. I must start using brown butter more often when I bake and cook.
Whisk in eggs and buttermilk. (This was boring so I didn't take a picture.)

Trim zucchini ends. Thinly slice five 1/8" rounds from 1 end of zucchini and reserve for garnish. Coarsely grate remaining zucchini. Add to bowl with butter mixture and stir until well blended.

Sift both flours, sugar, baking powder, salt, and baking soda into a large bowl. Whisk in cornmeal. Add zucchini mixture; fold just to blend (mixture will be very thick).

I love that this recipe doesn't require the mixer. Recipes that just require a whisk and a wooden spoon make me happy.

Transfer batter to prepared pan and smooth top. (It's easier said than done to smooth the top, by the way.) Place reserved zucchini slices atop batter down center in a single layer.
Next time I'll brush the zucchini slices with a little melted butter so they brown more nicely.

Bake bread until golden and a tester inserted into center comes out clean, 55-65 minutes.

I think it's so funny how that one zucchini slice on the right just refused to stay in line. There's always one, right?

Let cool in pan 10 minutes. Remove from pan; let cool completely on a wire rack. DO AHEAD: Can be made 1 day ahead. Store airtight at room temperature. 

This was as tasty as I had hoped. We put the plate of it, sliced, out on the buffet table before the meat was done on the grill. And by the time the meat was done, the cornbread was gone. 

I'm definitely making this again. Maybe just for myself next time.

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