Friday, August 24, 2007


Now is the time of year when people begin to feel oppressed by zucchini. (According to Garrison Keillor, the people of Lake Wobegon lock their car doors in August so their neighbors don’t sneak zucchini into them; there’s a great passage in Lake Wobegon Days about being overwhelmed by vegetable bounty, but unfortunately the only line I remember is “At night they checked the bed for kohlrabi.”) (Also, check out Crazy Aunt Purl's hilarious photo essay about her own zucchini infestation.) I don’t have a vegetable garden, nor do I know anyone who does, so I’m not feeling the pain. I tried this recipe not out of desperation, but just because I love both zucchini and muffins. Somehow it had never occurred to me that zucchini bread—something, like all sweet quick breads, I can pretty much take or leave—could be turned into muffins, which are so much more tempting—easier to keep fresh, more portable, handily personal-sized, and eminently cuter than the loaf form. So when I saw this recipe at the Smitten Kitchen, I sat up and said, “Boy howdy!”

I hippied up the recipe a bit by substituting unsweetened applesauce for half of the oil, because I always have applesauce on hand for making granola, and just the thought of an entire cup of oil (the original amount the recipe called for) made me feel a bit queasy; also, apples and zucchini seem like a nice pairing. I didn’t use nuts, but you can. Aside from the fact that one panful managed to get a little too dark on the bottom, the muffins were plenty moist and tender, well spiced and vanillaish, and—though I’m no zucchini-bread connoisseur, mind you—darn tasty. Overall, they were a snap to make, maintained at least the illusion of healthiness (they have vegetables in them, after all), and were easy to stash in the freezer and take to work as a mid-morning snack. If this is how it’s going to be, I, for one, welcome our zucchini overlords.

3 eggs
½ cup olive or vegetable oil
½ cup unsweetened applesauce
1¾ cups sugar
2 cups grated zucchini (about 2 medium zucchini)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 cups all-purpose flour
3 teaspoons cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
½ cup chopped walnuts or pecans (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. Line 24 muffin cups with paper liners, or grease them well.

3. In a large bowl, beat the eggs with a whisk. Mix in oil, applesauce, and sugar, then zucchini and vanilla.

4. In another large bowl, combine flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and nuts (if using).

5. Stir the flour mixture into the egg mixture. Divide the batter between the prepared pans. Bake for 20–25 minutes, or until a tester inserted into the center comes out clean.

Yield: 2 dozen
Time: 40 minutes

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