Summer squash is abundant this time of year. We have eaten it grilled and oven-fried, in a refreshing cold soup and a marinated salad. If you love zucchini and if you have this prolific vegetable in your garden (or a generous neighbors garden), making this bread is the answer to the bountiful harvest that seems to never end. And best of all, it can be prepared today, frozen and then enjoyed on a cool autumn morning, weeks from now.
The anise seed listed in the ingredients is optional. But, if you’ve never used this delicious, aromatic spice, you might want to give it a try. Native to the Mediterranean and southwest Asia, anise seed (aniseed) is sweet with licorice-like flavor and has a fragrant aroma. It’s often used in Italian baking and is the star in my anise biscotti. This recipe makes two loaves so, if you can’t commit to using the anise for both, at least try it for one. See the note below for adding this special spice to just one loaf.
- 3 cups flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon, plus 1/2 teaspoon
- 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
- 2 cups pecans or walnuts, toasted, chopped
- 3 eggs
- 2 cups sugar
- 2 teaspoons vanilla
- 1 tablespoon anise seeds (optional)
- 3/4 cup Extra-virgin olive oil, plus 1 tablespoon (Delicate), plus some to oil loaf pans
- 3 cups shredded zucchini, unpeeled (see note below)
- 4 tablespoons brown sugar
- Using a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, 1 teaspoon cinnamon and nutmeg. Stir in 1 cup of the walnuts (You’ll use the other cup for the topping).
- In a separate bowl, combine the eggs, sugar, vanilla, anise seeds (if using) and olive oil and mix well. Stir in the shredded zucchini. NOTE* If you want to use anise in only one loaf, add after you’ve added the egg mixture to the dry ingredients (step #3). Spoon half of the batter into a loaf pan and then mix in 1 1/2 teaspoons anise seeds to the remaining batter. Spoon into the other loaf pan and proceed with step #5.
- Make a well in the center of the bowl with the dry ingredients and add the egg mixture, stirring just until moistened.
- Spoon the batter into two oiled and floured 8 1/2 x 4 1/2 x 3-inch loaf-pans.
- In a small bowl, combine the brown sugar, 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon and the other 1 cup of walnuts. Stir in the 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Using your fingers, mix well (you could use a fork). Divide the mixture between both loaf-pans, sprinkling evenly over the batter. Gently press the topping down slightly. This will allow it to bake into the loaf rather than falling off when inverted. Bake in a preheated 350* oven for 55 minutes (A butter knife inserted will come out clean). Let cool completely before wrapping for the freezer.
- Note* I use a food processor with the medium shredding blade.