Traditional zucchini breads are rich and dense due to their refined oil and sugar, but these ingredients are not necessary, or health-promoting. This bread gets its moistness and heartiness from zucchini, apples, dates, and millet and oat flours.
I have happy memories of my mom’s zucchini bread made from the squash in our garden. And it was full of walnuts from our trees, which my dad used to pay me and my sister twenty-five cents a bucket to pick up. We complained a lot, but those walnuts were so good! Usually we’d make this in the summer or fall when zucchinis were fresh and plentiful. But there’s no reason you can’t make this tasty bread anytime of the year.
A word about baking pans: This recipe makes one standard loaf or two “half” loaves. Most recipes make 2 standard loaves, but you can easily double this recipe if you want to make two. I wanted to touch on baking pans since a different size pan will affect the baking time slightly, and there are so many sizes of loaf pans.
My standard pan holds 5 cups of water (to the brim) and is about 8.25 x 4.25 x 2-1/2″ (it’s says “medium loaf pan” on the end, and is “Gourmetware” brand).
What I call my “half” loaf pan holds 2 cups water and measures 5.75 x 3″ (the brand is “Good Cook” and says “mini loaf pan” on the label). It doesn’t say “half” on it, but that’s what I call it since it looks like about the size of my standard pan (see comparison photo below).
There are also true “mini” loaf pans that measure closer to 2.25 x 3.5″. These can be sold individually or as “cavities” in one large pan. I have not made these super small loaves, but I’d start checking them for doneness around 25 minutes and cook longer as needed.
So, if you want to replicate my loaves, those are the two pan sizes I have used (I have the Good Cook brand of pans in my online store as well as a true “mini” pan). If your pan is not one of these sizes, this chart on pan sizes may be helpful.
10 Medjool dates, pitted and chopped
1 cup non-dairy milk
1-1/4 cups quick or Old Fashioned rolled oats (not instant), ground into flour
¾ cup dry millet, ground into flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
½ teaspoon ground (dry) ginger
1-3/4 cups unpeeled and grated zucchini (about 1 and a half medium zucchinis)
½ cup unpeeled, grated apple (about half of a medium apple)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
¾ cup walnut halves, chopped
1. Preheat oven to 325. In a small bowl, cover the chopped dates with the non-dairy milk and set aside to soften.
2. Dry ingredients: Grind the oats and millet into a flour using your blender (a high-speed blender will do a finer job) and place into a bowl. Add to this the soda, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger.
3. Wet ingredients: In another bowl, place the grated zucchini and apple, and vanilla. Using your blender again, blend the dates and the non-dairy milk until very smooth. Add the date mixture to the bowl of zucchini, apple and vanilla, and mix with a fork.
4. Combine the wet and dry ingredients and mix thoroughly with a wooden spoon, adding in the chopped walnuts at the end. Pour into one standard size loaf pan OR two half-loaf pans (see above) lined with parchment paper (see photos of how to do this below), or use silicone bakeware. The batter will fill the pan about 3/4 of the way.
5. Bake 1 standard loaf for 65-70 minutes uncovered with your oven rack in the center position. If you are making two half loaves, bake both at the same time on one rack with some space between them for 40-45 minutes uncovered. The bread will be done when the top of the loaf is an even medium brown, it has started to pull away from the sides of the pan, and there are some cracks in the top of the loaf.
When you take the bread out to test for doneness, insert a toothpick far down, and if it comes out clean, it’s likely done. If the top of the loaf is brown but doesn’t pass the toothpick test, put it back in covered lightly with a piece of foil and cook for 5 more minutes or until the toothpick comes out clean. Let cool for 5 minutes before removing from the pan to cool further on a cutting board. Cool for another 10-15 minutes before slicing.
Preparation: 35 minutes
Cooking time: 40-70 minutes
Makes: 1 standard loaf or two half loaves
Sweetness: This bread is not overly sweet, but just sweet enough, according to my palate. But feel free to add 2-3 more dates if you prefer a sweeter bread.
Nuts: Any type of nut may be used; or they may be omitted altogether.
Raisins: A half cup of raisins would also be a nice addition, and would add additional sweetness.
Above: A close-up of a slice from the standard loaf. The crumb (the soft inner part of the bread) is moist yet not under-cooked. Adding the ground millet helps this since oat flour alone can sometimes result in a texture that is heavy and sticky.
Above: The half loaf is on the left and the standard loaf is on the right. The standard loaf was cooked a little longer, so it’s darker in color.
Above: This is the half loaf made with sliced almonds instead of walnuts. You can see the millet grains, which look like cornmeal, even when ground. If you were to grind the millet and oats in a Vitamix or other super high-speed blender, the texture would be finer (I used my small Tribest Blender to grind my grains). I like the grainier texture just as well.
HOW TO LINE A PAN WITH PARCHMENT PAPER
(1) Cut a piece of parchment paper larger than your pan, and set your pan on it. (2) Mark where the four corners are. (3) Cut from the corners into the marks, and also trim the long sides so that they are the approximate height of your baking pan. (4) Press the paper into the pan, pressing firmly into the corners so it will conform to the pan. Flatten the paper against the insides of the pan, and trim off any that rises above the top edge of the pan so it doesn’t burn. (5) This is what the finished project looks like (this is my “half” loaf pan).
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