I am totally loving on zucchini this summer. I have been making versions of this summer stir-fry, shaving it into long thin ribbons, and (more often than not) stewing it with garlic and olive oil forever, until it just slumps into deliciousness. And I also made this cornbread.
I have long been a fan of the many uses of zucchini, and how its flaws are actually its assets, if you just look at them in the right light. Like you know how it has a fairly subtle flavor, and can be kinda watery? Well, that just means you can easily slip it into your cornbread, where it adds a gentle green note, and keeps things tender and moist. I know, right?
This recipe is a fairly standard quickbread, though it goes a step further and browns the butter for a nutty taste ( a step I always recommend taking). The end result is somewhere between cornbread and zucchini bread, and a nice welcome change from either of the two. While less desserty than zucchini bread, it definitely falls on the sweeter end of the cornbread spectrum — but after a childhood relationship with doughnut shop corn muffins, that's how I like it (I even play up the subtle sweetness a bit more with a sanding of sugar across the top). It's a delicious snack to go with your afternoon tea (or iced tea, depending on the weather), and paired with a handful of blackberries or slice of cheese it makes for a perfect summer breakfast.
And if you'd like to hear me say more kind words about zucchini, you can check out this intervew I did with No Chefs Allowed, over on Heritage Radio. Complete with ummms and upspeak and awkward oh-do-I-talk-now? pauses. It turns out being interviewed on the radio is totally nervous-making. Who knew?
Brown Butter Zucchini Cornbread
from Bon Appetit, via Epicurious
yields 1 loaf
1 good-sized zucchini (about 12 ounces)
1 cup flour
1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour (or just use additional flour)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon coarse salt
3/4 cup medium-grind cornmeal (this type of cornmeal is somewhere between finely-ground standard cornmeal and coarse-ground polenta — I happened to have some on hand (thanks, Ken & Heidi's pantry!), and it made for a nicely nubby texture, but standard cornmeal would work fine)1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, plus additional for greasing pan
1/2 cup buttermilk
2 large eggs
1/3 cup sugar, plus additional coarse sugar for sanding the top
Preheat your to 350° Fahrenheit. Butter and flour a loaf pan, and set aside.
Trim the ends off the zucchini, and slice a half-dozen whisper-thin slices off to reserve as garnish. Grate the remaining zucchini on the coarse holes of a grater, then set aside in a colander to drain while you prepare the rest of the recipe.
In a large bowl, sift together the flours, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cornmeal. Set aside.
Melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Continue cooking until butter solids at bottom of pan turn golden brown, about 3 minutes, then pour out into a medium bowl. Let cool slightly, then pour in the buttermilk, whisking to help cool the butter and take the chill off the buttermilk. Add the eggs and sugar, and whisk well to combine. Give the zucchini a quick press in the colander to release any liquid, and stir into the bowl as well.
Gently fold the dry mixture into the zucchini mixture, stirring until *just* combined (the mixture will be quite thick). Pour into your prepared pan, and smooth the top. Gently lay the reserved zucchini slices in a row down the top, then sprinkle generously with coarse sugar. Bake until golden and a tester comes out clean, ~45 minutes to an hour. Let cool in pan for 15 minutes, then turn out onto a rack and cool fully before slicing.