Oh, hi! I’m Dondi, and you can usually find me and my work over at I Heart Intelligence and Unified Soul Theory. I live and work as a freelance writer and for an awesome community non-profit in gorgeous Fort Collins, Colorado, and I’m a cyclist, rock climber and general outdoor enthusiast. I’m thrilled to be here today to share my recipe for the best zucchini bread and muffins you’ve ever tasted.
First, a confession: the original recipe for this amazing bread is not one I can claim of my own. It comes from Sally’s Baking Addiction, my all-time favorite baking blog, and you can find the original recipe here.
I have a serious sweet tooth and, as a commuter cyclist who travels everywhere by bike, I really appreciate treats that taste delicious and travel well zipped into the pocket of one of my panniers. So when I first made this recipe I nearly lost my mind. The flavors were incredible: the butter! The brown sugar! The cinnamon and nutmeg and vanilla! The melty chocolate chips and crunchy walnuts and the streusel…oh the streusel…
Clearly I could wax poetic about this for hours. I probably have. I especially love that the recipe is for zucchini bread or muffins: there are vegetables in its title. Obviously, it must be good for me, right?
Unfortunately, while this recipe does have a whopping cup of zucchini in it (and I often add more), it also has a fair amount of butter and sugar and oil and therefore a whopping number of calories. So I made a few changes: I subbed half the oil for applesauce and part of the flour for ground flaxseed. I found that when I was making it, I always had a TON of streusel topping, so I started halving the amount of topping I made for each recipe. This sounds like baking blasphemy, I know, especially as one of Sally’s mandates on her blog is “more streusel!”, but I found that using half the amount was more than enough to get all of the incredible flavors with fewer calories and less fat. It’s the best of all worlds.
Both the bread and the muffins (I mostly make the muffins) keep nicely, covered at room temperature for up to five days. They also freeze really, really well. If I make these muffins and don’t freeze them I will eat way too many immediately, so I freeze most of the batch and then just grab them from my freezer as needed and toss them into my pannier to take with me wherever I’m going. By the time they thaw it’s like they were never frozen. For folks who don’t bike everywhere, they thaw just fine out on the countertop for an hour or so too, or you can warm them on low in an oven for 10-15 minutes. This recipe is also wonderfully scalable: I’ve doubled, tripled and even quadrupled it with no problems whatsoever.
-⅓ cup rolled oats
-¼ cup firmly packed brown sugar
-¼ teaspoon cinnamon
-1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
-⅛ cup butter (2 tablespoons), very cold
-1 ¼ cup all-purpose flour
-¼ cup ground flaxseed
-½ teaspoon salt
-¾ teaspoon baking powder
-½ teaspoon baking soda
-2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
-⅛ to ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg, to taste
-¼ cup mini chocolate chips (optional)
-¼ cup white chocolate chips (optional)
-½ cup chopped walnuts (optional)
-½ cup firmly packed brown sugar
-½ cup white sugar
-¼ cup oil (I use canola but use whatever mildly flavored oil you like!)
-¼ cup applesauce
-1 cup grated zucchini*
-1 egg, beaten
-2 teaspoons vanilla extract
–For Bread: Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease or nonstick-spray a loaf pan or line with parchment paper and set aside. For Muffins: Heat oven to 425 degrees F. Grease or nonstick-spray a 12-count muffin tin or line cups with paper liners and set aside.
-Streusel Topping(make this first!):
Combine oats, brown sugar, cinnamon and flour together in a medium-sized bowl until well-mixed and no brown sugar lumps remain. Cut the butter into tiny pieces (I actually grate it on the large holes of a box or hand grater) and combine with dry ingredients using a pastry cutter, two knives or just your fingers. You want a loose crumby structure, and if the mix or the butter gets too warm it’s easy to overmix. It’s still usable in this form, but more difficult to work with, so try to keep it loose, but well-combined. Set aside (I put it in the fridge.)
Toss together flour, flaxseed, salt, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon and nutmeg in a large bowl until well combined. Mix in chocolate chips and walnuts, if using. Set aside.
Stir together brown sugar, white sugar, oil, and applesauce in a medium bowl until well-combined. Add in the zucchini and mix well. Add in the egg and vanilla and give a good stir until everything is well-combined. No need to over-stir.
Pour the wet ingredients into the dry mix and stir to combine. I try to stir this mixture as little as possible, just until no flour remains. This keeps it from getting tough.
For bread: Pour into prepared loaf pan, then bake for 20 minutes at 350 degrees. Remove from oven and add streusel topping, pressing the topping evenly into the top of the bread. You’re adding this after baking 20 minutes so that the streusel doesn’t sink down into the batter. Return it to the oven and bake for an additional 25-30 minutes. You can cover the bread loosely with foil to keep it from browning too much. It’s done when a toothpick or knife inserted in the middle comes out clean. Let the bread cool for at least an hour in the pan set on a wire rack before cutting and serving. (This may be the hardest hour of your life.)
For muffins: Oven should be preheated to 425. Fill cups with batter almost all the way to the top. Sally’s recipe notes that this makes 10 muffins but it easily fills all 12 cups every time I make these. Sprinkle streusel topping evenly over each cup, then bake for 5 minutes at 425 degrees. After five minutes, turn down the oven temperature to 350. Bake at 350 for an additional 14-15 minutes or until done (a test toothpick into one or two should come out clean, though they are so reliably done at 14-15 minutes I don’t even check them). Allow to cool for a few minutes in the pan, then pop out and place on a wire rack to cool completely.
*Zucchini is a really watery vegetable. To keep it from watering down your muffins, grate the zucchini onto a few layers of paper towels or a clean dry kitchen towel and squeeze as much water from it as you can. You’ll be amazed how much water you squeeze out!