Quick Freezer Breads

When I was growing up, my mom was forever trying to find uses for my dad’s giant annual squash crop. My dad has a sweet tooth, so chocolate zucchini cake was a favorite way of putting more the zukes in our bellies. My dad is also a fan of butternut squash cooked in its skin, sliced in half, and deseeded so that its cavity could be filled with butter and brown sugar.

I didn’t inherit that sweet tooth. The cake was OK, but I detested the sugary squash and even pumpkin pie when I was growing up. It wasn’t until I left home and tried savory squash soups that I developed a taste for these vegetables. As you can see from my squash-based recipes, such as Zucchini Pancakes, these quick breads, and even Pumpkin–Chocolate Cookies, I still look for more flavor and less sugar when baking with summer or winter squash.
I didn’t inherit my dad’s sweet tooth and seek more flavor and less sugar when baking with summer or winter squash. Learn to make Zucchini Sesame Bread and Harvest Pumpkin Bread.

Zucchini Sesame Bread

  • Servings: 2 loaves
  • Difficulty: 2
  • Print
3 medium zucchini (about 3 cups grated)
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup whole-wheat flour
1 cup oat bran
3/4 teaspoon salt
1-1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
3/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1-1/4 teaspoons ground nutmeg
1-1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
3/4 cup applesauce
1/4 cup butter
4 large eggs
1 teaspoon lemon zest (optional)
1/4 cup sesame seeds

Grate the zucchini or, if using grated, frozen squash from the prior summer, let it defrost in the refrigerator. Set a colander over a bowl and allow the zucchini to drain.

In a large bowl, mix the flours, oat bran, salt, baking soda, baking powder, and spices; set aside. In a separate bowl, beat the sugar and applesauce until thoroughly combined. Melt the butter and then add it to the sugar mixture; beat in each egg before adding the other liquid to the wet ingredients. Fold in the zucchini.

Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and then mix until just combined, scraping all of the flour from the bottom of the bowl and into the batter. Gently fold the lemon zest and sesame seeds into the batter.

Lightly grease two 9- by 5-inch loaf pans with butter, and then split the batter between the pans. Bake at 350°F for 30 minutes, rotate the pans, and then bake an additional 30 minutes, until the tops are golden brown and slightly cracked and a skewer inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cool slightly, and then remove the loaves from the pans and let them cool on a wire rack as long as you can wait. Makes about 2 loaves.

Tips & Tricks
  • Replacing part or all of the zucchini with grated yellow summer squash creates virtually no difference in taste. Nut lovers can add up to 1 cup of chopped pecans or walnuts with little effect on the bread’s texture. If you add nuts, I recommend sprinkling the sesame seeds on top of the loaf before baking.
  • I prefer to cut back not just the sugar but also the fat portion in my baked goods, and applesauce makes a fabulous substitute. You can entirely replace the butter with applesauce, but I find the loaves rise better if you leave a bit of butter in the recipe.
  • Quick breads and muffins are the same baked good in different pans. For muffins, follow the recipe but divide the batter among the 12 cups of a muffin tin and bake for just 30 minutes.
  • This recipe and the one that uses winter squash (see below) align with my Ratio Quick Bread recipe and its Quick Cranberry Bread variation. You’ll find more quick bread Tips & Tricks in that post.

Twice as Tasty

I didn’t inherit my dad’s sweet tooth and seek more flavor and less sugar when baking with summer or winter squash. Learn to make Zucchini Sesame Bread and Harvest Pumpkin Bread.Hopefully this month’s recipes have inspired you to plan the season so that you plant enough vegetables to store for off-season use. This includes potatoes, garlic, and broccoli for Spanish Potato–Garlic Soup and Italian Broccoli–Pasta Soup; Yellow Pear tomatoes and yellow summer squash for Sunshine Risotto; and zucchini for Zucchini Sesame Bread.

Last week I described the ease of growing squash blossoms for risotto, but if you want to make this next recipe, the vines need space to sprawl on the ground and set pumpkins. You aren’t looking for fair-winning giants here; sugar pumpkins or other small winter squashes are best for baking breads or cookies. When your pumpkins are ripe in fall, roast the deseeded halves in the oven; scoop out, puree, and drain the flesh; and freeze it in containers for later use.

Harvest Pumpkin Bread

  • Servings: 2 loaves
  • Difficulty: 2
  • Print
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup whole-wheat flour
3/4 teaspoon salt
1-1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
3/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1-1/4 teaspoons ground nutmeg
1-1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
3/4 cup applesauce
1/4 cup butter
4 large eggs
1-3/4 cups Roasted Pumpkin Puree
1 cup coarsely chopped walnuts or pecans
1/2 cup raisins

Mix the dry ingredients and the wet ingredients separately as you would for Zucchini Sesame Bread, defrosting the pumpkin in advance if using frozen puree and folding it into the wet mixture of sugar, applesauce, butter, and eggs.

Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and then mix until just combined, scraping all of the flour from the bottom of the bowl and into the batter. Gently fold in the chopped nuts and raisins.

Split the batter between two lightly greased 9- by 5-inch loaf pans. Bake at 350°F for about 30 minutes, rotate the pans, and then bake an additional 30 minutes, until the tops are golden brown and slightly cracked and a skewer inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cool slightly, and then remove from the pan and place on a wire rack. Makes about 2 loaves.

Tips & Tricks
  • I use the spice array for this pumpkin bread and Zucchini Sesame Bread. If you plan to make a lot of these loaves, you can preblend a larger batch of these spices into your own mix and then use 1-1/2 tablespoons of the mix per recipe.
  • I love the apple bites Grandma Tiny’s Chunky Applesauce adds to this recipe, but you can use a smooth version if desired. If you have a sweet tooth like my dad, you may prefer a lightly sweetened applesauce.
  • Both pumpkin and zucchini bread are easy to make from frozen squash, so plan on keeping plenty of grated zucchini and pureed pumpkin in your freezer. Both breads also freeze well once made; although they should be eaten within a few days if at room temperature or in the fridge, they’ll easily keep 3 months in the freezer.
  • Loaves freeze best if precut into thick slices and then slid into a gallon zip-close freezer bag. Frozen slices can go straight into a toaster or toaster oven but need to heat twice as long as fresh ones.

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