I love the last days of summer. Everything at the farmer’s market looks perfect; I want to try it all. While I like almost any vegetable, my family has never taken to summer squash. Nevertheless, they don’t mind it, when I incorporate it into homey treats like quick breads.
One of the biggest changes I made in recent years, was to start eating mostly whole grains. Although many people have given up carbs, it is the consumption of processed grains, such as white flour, that leads to weight gain and poor health. In fact the fiber in whole grains, fruits and vegetables is essential to a healthy diet.
Since I haven’t given up cake, I am always trying to develop healthier baked goods. A neglected bottle of buttermilk motivated me to try to develop a whole grain quick bread with an outer crust as delectable as its moist center. The recipes I had tried in the past had been gooey, but the texture of the crust was either too rubbery or indistinguishable from the cake. I was hoping that the addition of buttermilk would help produce the texture the crust needed.
A search of buttermilk whole grain recipes led me to A Daring Gourmet post for Chocolate Deception Cake. While too rich for me, the recipe proved a wonderful jumping off point for creating a cake that is whole grain and contains two cups of zucchini.
I love spelt and whole wheat pastry flour for whole grain baking. Used alone (rather than in combination with all purpose flour) they create the light texture I prefer for muffins, quick breads and cakes. Although the recipe I referenced suggested spelt flour, I thought that hardier whole wheat pastry flour might be a better foil for all the moisture I was adding. Mixed with buttermilk, I found the flour to be the perfect ingredient to create a luscious cake with a tender crunchy crust.
I don’t dwell on the zucchini component of this cake when presenting it to my family. I will leave that decision to you.
Chocolate Chip Zucchini Bread
2 cups grated zucchini – 4 small zucchini (leave the peel on and use the small holes on the grater. The zucchini will appear pulverized, not just shredded. Thoroughly squeeze the liquid out until there is about 1 tightly packed cup.)
2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
¼ cup maple syrup
¾ cup brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 stick butter (room temperature)
½ a vanilla bean, split and scraped
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup buttermilk
½ cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
Preheat the oven to 350 F. Line a 9×5 inch loaf pan with parchment paper letting it overhang on each side.
Squeeze as much liquid out of the squash as you can. This will leave you with about 1 cup of densely packed zucchini. Put it aside.
In a medium bowl, sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt; set it aside too.
In a large bowl, add the sugar, eggs, and maple syrup and beat until smooth. Add the butter, vanilla extract, and the seeds scraped from the inside of the vanilla bean. Beat until combined. Add the buttermilk and beat for another 30 seconds.
Stir in the pulverized squash until combined with the batter. Gradually add the flour mixture to the batter, gently folding until just combined. Be careful not to stir too much. Fold in the chocolate chips with minimal stirring.
Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake 45-55 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the loaf comes out clean. Remove the pan from the oven and set it on a wire rack. Let the loaf cool in the pan for 5 minutes. Use the parchment paper to remove the cake from the pan. Set it on the wire rack to cool completely.