I get excited anytime I see a recipe in a comic book, because then I get to take “cook your comics” semi-literally. Comic creator Becky Cloonan (Wolves, American Virgin, Conan the Barbarian) recently cartooned her experience with making this bread and giving it to friends (which is why it’s friendship bread!) after a bumper crop of zucchini came ripe in her garden. She posted the comic strip on her Tumblr, so I decided to test it out for your benefit. And for the benefit of the people with whom I’m going to share this bread.
If you’ve never had zucchini bread and are skeptical of the concept, that’s okay. The zucchini is grated so finely that it melts away into the bread as it bakes. If you’re serving it to picky eaters, maybe don’t tell them it has zucchini in it. Just call it “Friendship Bread,” or say it’s a quick bread with walnuts and cinnamon. Don’t make a big deal. The final product doesn’t look or taste like zucchini. It looks like this:
Cloonan did a lovely job of imparting the recipe via sequential art, so I won’t reproduce it all here. I guarantee she was less wordy about it than I would be. However, below I have added some notes of my own that may be helpful. And for your shopping convenience, here is the ingredient list to make two loaves:
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
3 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 cup vegetable oil
2-1/4 cups white sugar
3 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup chopped walnuts
2 cups grated zucchini
A few notes on the process:
You only need about two medium-sized zucchini for this recipe. If you grow your own, you’ll probably have like 200 to use up, so scale up the recipe as needed.
Peel the zucchini first. I use a Y-shaped peeler and it works perfectly. Very quick and easy.
If you have one, use a food processor to grate the zucchini. A box grater will work too, but it takes longer, makes you work harder, and you might accidentally grate your knuckles.
As Cloonan instructs, mix the wet and dry ingredients in separate bowls. Sugar is considered a wet ingredient, since it will dissolve into the other wet ingredients easily.
Mix the wet ingredients in the biggest bowl, since everything will eventually end up in there. When you need to mix the wet and dry parts together, it’s best to do it a little at a time, and you must add the dry ingredients (the flour mixture) to the wet mixture, and not vice-versa. If you dump the wet stuff into the big pile of dry stuff, you’ll end up with a clumpy mess surrounded by a lot of dry flour. So add about a quarter of the dry mixture into the wet bowl and mix it in. Keep doing that until all it’s all mixed together. The mixture will be pretty dry and stiff, but don’t worry — the grated zucchini contains a lot of moisture. Once you mix it in, it’ll be a batter again instead of a dough. Add the nuts and you’re ready to bake.
Instead of making two loaves, I made one standard-size loaf and eight mini-loaves. I used little paper inserts made for that purpose. It’s a little tricky to fill them, but they keep the bread from sticking and make a nice presentation if you’re giving them to friends. You also could make muffins. I think this recipe would yield about 24 muffins.
The comic says the loaves take 40-60 minutes to bake, but my big loaf took about 90 minutes. Baking time can vary, depending on a lot of factors. It’s very humid where I live, and sometimes that makes baked goods take longer. The mini-loaves only took 20-25 minutes to bake, because they are much smaller. I’d say start checking big loaves at 40 minutes and mini-loaves at 20. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Science!
While you wait for your zucchini bread to be done, you can watch this video of Tim Curry performing the very bawdy “The Zucchini Song” when he hosted Saturday Night Live in 1981. It has played in my head every time I’ve heard the word “zucchini” in the two decades, so I’m sorry/you’re welcome.
When your bread is done, let it cool. Then taste it! I followed the recipe exactly as Cloonan directed (apart from making part of the batch into mini-loaves), and the resulting bread was delicious! It’s light and flavorful. I’m going to have one of the mini-loaves for breakfast.
Keep some for yourself, and share what’s left with friends, co-workers, or whomever you like making happy.