Tag Archives: spice

Zucchini Chocolate Spice Bread

12 Feb

I love zucchini bread – bold in its simplicity and perfectly comforting. Its a good bread, one that is easily frozen and surprisingly easy and quick to make. I thought of this bread when I saw some luscious zucchini at O’Gourmet last week, and thought that it might be a nice idea to try a new twist. I found Bentong ginger powder at PastryPro – organic, sun-dried and so deep and complex in scent its almost overwhelming. I wanted to use it in a bread, and with my beautiful zucchini to hand, I set about inventing a new, enticing version of my beloved old standard.

I have to admit, this new zucchini bread is pretty spectacular. It is damp, lush, complex and dark. I really decided to go all out in this bread … I used dark and light brown sugar, freshly grated nutmeg, cinnamon and the amazing Bentong ginger, a touch of ground hazelnuts, beautiful Tasmanian Leatherwood honey, and both white and bittersweet chocolate. I realise, its full on! I thought to myself, when I put the loaves in the oven … either this is going to be delicious, or its going to taste like a muddled mess!

Luckily, its a wonderful, complicated, intriguing bread. Its very moist and it will get better over a few days – the flavours compounding and playing off one another. It freezes well, and its wonderful lightly toasted, as a snack, breakfast or tea time treat. Plus, what a wonderful way to get people to eat their zucchini and love it too!

I know that this seems a load of ingredients to bring together. If you cant find ground hazelnuts, or dont want to make them, substitute ground almonds, or even just plain flour. Chop and change as you wish, its a very forgiving recipe. Try though to include the honey and the spices … they really deepen and improve the bread immensely. And who doesnt like chocolate? Hehe … though if you want to be more healthy, try a few seeds or dried fruit instead. And do try and wait at least 10 minutes after you remove the bread from the hot oven – its very delicate at first, and needs a moment to firm up! Says she, who never waits ­čśë

Makes 2 loaves

  • 2 medium-large zucchini (approximately 2 – 3 cups grated)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup canola or other vegetable oil
  • 1 scant cup sugar – half dark brown, half light brown
  • 1 heaping tbsp honey
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract or 1 vanilla pod, beans scraped
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/2 cup ground hazelnuts
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3/4 tsp baking soda
  • 3/4 tsp baking powder
  • 2 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp dried ginger (I used Bentong ginger, which is very flavourful – you may want to up the amount of ginger – may be 1 – 2 tsp – ┬ádepending on the quality of your source)
  • 1/2 whole nutmeg, grated
  • 2 cups chocolate chips, drops or chopped (I used half bittersweet, half white, best quality chocolate)

Preheat the oven to 175 C (350 F). Line two loaf pans with baking paper. I usually cut out a large piece of baking paper, centre the loaf pan, and cut in at a 90 degree angle on all four corners. I can then fold in the paper, and have a bit of nice overhang. Set aside the pans.

Set a sieve over a small bowl, and grate the zucchini into the sieve. I use the very fine grater, but depending on the texture youre going for, you might want to grate it slightly more coarsely. Press the zucchini into the sieve to encourage as much water out as possible (you will probably get about 1 cup worth). Set aside while you prepare the rest of the ingredients (and reserve both the zucchini and its liquid!).

In a large bowl, place the eggs, vegetable oil, sugars, honey and vanilla. Whisk together well until everything is well combined and integrated. Set aside.

In a small bowl (or large measuring jug, which is what I use) combine the flour, ground hazelnuts, salt, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg. Stir to combine completely. Set aside for a moment.

Measure out about 1/2 cup of zucchini water.

Stir the flour and zucchini water into the sugar/oil mixture, in thirds, mixing gently but thoroughly. You might not use all of the zucchini water – just add a splash each time to really help the flour to integrate into the sugar/oil.

Add all the zucchini and mix well, and finally add the chocolate and mix well.

Divide the batter evenly between the two loaf tins.

of Zucchini Bread!Bake, switching the tins in the oven half way through if youre concerned about hot spots, for about 45 minutes – 1 hour. A cake tester inserted into the loaf will either come up covered in chocolate (in which case, wipe down and try again!) or with scant crumbs attached.

Allow the bread to cool for 10 minutes or so before devouring. This freezes exceedingly well, and will stay good in the fridge for a week or more (though its always finished up by the first day or so in my house!).

Enjoy!

 

Spicy Cheese Crackers

27 Dec

I really dont like the crackers that you can get at the stores. They taste like they are full of chemicals. And when the process of making crackers is so very simple, its a wonder that we buy them at all. This past Christmas, I was going to dinner at Jobby’s house. I wanted to bring some lovely but simple things, as I had been immersed in cooking these last few days. I decided on a raspberry-gooseberry fool, which is just whipped cream, scented with vanilla and a touch of icing sugar, folded into cooled stewed raspberries and gooseberries. That sweet tart cool creamy combination is beautiful – and it takes minutes to make.

I knew Jobby would probably make her wonderful hummus. So crackers were a good addition – and they are delicious enough to eat on their own. Unfortunately I did not get a photograph because Nana chowed down more than half before we even left the house! But suffice to say, these crackers are wonderful – such a complex blend of flavour. You could spice them up with anything you like, but I used chili powder, mustard seeds, and English mustard powder. The combination is divine, spicy and cheese-y all at the same time. The crackers are crisp and flaky and can be cut into rounds, squares, or whatever your heart desires. Poke a few holes in them, pop them in a hot oven, and watch them brown up and puff a little. Beautiful.

These crackers will keep, in an air tight box, for about a week, but if you have a Nana around the house they wont last!

Makes about 100 crackers, depending on how you cut them

  • 1 cup bread flour (OO flour)
  • 1 cup polenta
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 2 tsp mustard seeds
  • 1 1/2 tsp English mustard powder
  • 1 cup cheese – cheddar/parmesan mix
  • 3 tbsp cold butter
  • 1 cup buttermilk

Preheat the oven to 190 C (375F).

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, combine the flour, polenta, salt, baking soda, chili powder, mustard seeds and English mustard powder. Toss to combine.

Grate the cheese over the flour mixture, and stir well.

Grate over the cold butter, and stir again, gently.

Pour over the buttermilk, and combine. Turn the dough out onto a working surface and knead, gently until it all comes together.

Form the dough into a ball, and refrigerate, covered for about half an hour.

Once the dough has rested and cooled, divide it into quarters.

You can now roll the dough out very thin, and cut it into shapes, or roll the dough into a log, and slice very thinly.

Arrange on the baking sheet, and using the tines of a fork, poke a few holes in each cracker. This is optional, but it will help keep the crackers flat and less puffy.

Bake for about 8 – 10 minutes, or until the crackers are golden and cheesy.

Let cool for at least 10 minutes before gobbling up!