It’s officially September you guys. I know.
Back to school season. Pumpkin spice everything. Sweaters in store windows…
While some people lament the end of summer and others celebrate the onset of fall, for all intents and purposes, it’s actually still summer. Like SUMMER. Dog days style.
Here in Brooklyn we’re in the midst of yet another record-breaking heat wave. My backyard looks incredibly parched, sad, and droopy; and the heat over the past few days has felt downright oppressive and just generally awful. In fact, the other day many schools in the area announced they’d be letting out early because of a heat advisory, in their first week back!
Trying to take full advantage of the extended summery weather, Russell and I took a trip to the farmer’s market over the weekend. I’ve been really stumped about what to do and make for the ol’ blog lately, because I’m having such a hard time deciding what would be considered seasonally appropriate right now. Last week I posted a recipe for some hot and steamy soup, and then the weather decided to follow my lead and went all hot and soupy too.
I figured I should just go and see what spoke to me, and hoped I’d be able to make a plan from there.
Wandering the stalls of the market I was met with piles of gorgeous heirloom tomatoes and bushels of ripe sweet corn, but for some reason stacks of bright green zucchini were what called out to me, along with some seriously beautiful local peaches. But, what the heck could I do with peaches and zucchini in the same dish? I thought about just making a peach crumble or something, and then using the zucchini for dinner later on. I paid up and was on my way, and by the time I got home I knew what I had to do.
When I was little I was a big fan of banana bread, especially my grandma’s banana bread. As I got older I started to develop a “distaste” for bananas that eventually blossomed into an intense hatred for bananas and anything banana related.
I usually pride myself in my openness to any food available to me, and my willingness to try anything someone might dare me to eat, but bananas are just an absolute no-no. I don’t know why, but I really can’t stand them. The tiniest piece of banana snuck into a smoothie deems it unfit for anything but the trash bin. Even the smell of them makes me retch, and my co-workers are well aware that eating a banana anywhere near me is absolutely forbidden.
For the past few years there has been a banana bread shaped hole in my heart, but thankfully zucchini bread has stepped in to fill that giant void in my life.
So those bright green beauties fresh from some local farm had a clear and bright future, grated and baked inside a loaf of warm nutty quick bread, along with the tastiest peaches summer had to offer. (Thankfully we recently got a new AC unit so turning on the oven didn’t turn our tiny apartment into a sweltering inferno)
These loaves are every bit as tender and moist and delicious as you could want, with a wonderful crunchy top thanks to the addition of some demerara sugar sprinkled on just before baking. They’re really the perfect transitional food between summer and fall. The zucchini and peaches are bright and fresh and summery, but they’re paired with warm autumnal spices and crunchy bitter walnuts. I never liked walnuts in my breads when I was younger, but I’ve learned to absolutely love the contrasting texture and flavor. I think the bright sweetness from the peaches really calls for the slight bitterness of the walnuts for balance, so I really recommend you don’t skip them.
The peaches aren’t really the stars of the show here, but take a backseat to the zucchini. The flavor is very similar to a normal (albeit really delicious) zucchini bread, with an added touch of sweet peachiness. I personally love the subtle addition of summer fruitiness, but if you’re looking for something with bright peach-forward flavor, I’m not sure this is the recipe for you. I added a little bit of wheat flour to soak up some of the extra moisture, but I fear that adding too many more peaches to the recipe could render your loaves dense and soggy.
Zucchini Peach Bread
3 large eggs
1 cup vegetable oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 1/2 cups grated zucchini
1 cup finely diced peaches
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon table salt
3/4 cup chopped toasted walnuts
1/4 cup demerara sugar (or other coarse sanding sugar)
Preheat oven to 350°F.
Liberally butter and flour two 8×4 inch loaf pans. Alternately, line 24 muffin cups with paper liners.
In a large bowl whisk together the eggs, oil, vanilla and sugar. Add zucchini and peaches and stir to combine.
Combine flours, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and walnuts. Whisk to combine. Make a well in the center of the flour and pour egg mixture in. Gently fold and stir just to combine. Do not over mix. Divide the batter into prepared pans and sprinkle each with demerara sugar.
Bake loaves for 60 minutes, plus or minus ten, or until a toothpick or cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean. If making muffins instead, they should bake for approximately 20 to 25 minutes. Cool on a wire rack for about 15 minutes before removing from pans, and cool for at least 30 minutes more before slicing.