Some weeks ago, I had friends over for brunch and served a Mexican-inspired menu. You’ll probably never see me present a frosted cake or anything too sugary at the end of a meal, but I don’t like to leave people hanging either, and usually make some simple cookies or a fail-proof quick bread. For this particular meal, I made zucchini bread, and instead of serving regular butter alongside, I made a honey-cilantro compound butter to tie in with the Mexican theme.
Much to my pleasant surprise, everyone ooh-ed and aah-ed over this “dessert.” They licked their fingers, greedily ate the crumbs remaining on the serving plate, and unanimously agreed it was the best part of the whole meal, which made me a very happy host. It goes to show that people always prefer the simplest of things.
This bread is moist, dense and not overly sweet – you could even have it for breakfast if you wanted to. Because it doesn’t contain nearly enough sugar to be qualified as a dessert, it can even be served with the rest of the meal instead of at the end. For the herb butter, I know it seems weird to have cilantro (or dill, or basil) in a sweet preparation but it’s actually very good, since the earthiness of the herbs brings out the flavor of the zucchini. This treat is pretty hard to screw up so I urge you to make it for your friends too, even if you’re just a beginner cook or baker. They’ll love you.
Adapted from this Bon Appetit recipe
- ⅓ cup granulated sugar
- ½ cup melted coconut oil, plus more for pan
- 2 large eggs
- 1½ teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- ½ cup whole wheat flour
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- ¼ teaspoon baking powder
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ½ cup plus 1 teaspoon rolled oats, divided
- 2 small zucchini, grated (2 cups)
- 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, softened
- 1 tablespoon chopped dill, cilantro or basil
- 1 teaspoon honey
- Preheat oven to 350°. Grease a loaf pan with coconut oil and line with parchment paper, leaving an overhang on the long sides.
- In a large bowl, whisk together sugar, oil, eggs and vanilla until smooth.
- In a separate bowl, whisk together flours, baking soda, baking powder and salt.
- Using a fork, slowly incorporate flour mixture into egg mixture. Then fold in zucchini and ½ cup oats (batter will be thick and dense). Scrape batter into prepared pan and sprinkle with remaining teaspoon oats.
- Bake until a tester inserted into the center comes out clean, about 1 hour. Cool on a wire rack.
- When cool enough to handle, remove bread from baking pan and peel off parchment paper. Serve warm, with honey-herb butter.
- In a small bowl, mix butter, herbs and honey with a fork until evenly combined.
- Place bowl in the freezer for a few minutes to solidify butter a bit.
- Scrape butter onto the center of a sheet of parchment and gently form into a log with your hands. Fold ends of parchment paper to meet on top and roll butter into a circular log inside the paper.
- Refrigerate until solidified, about 10 minutes. Slice and serve.