Lemon Thyme Zucchini Loaf
Summer baking is in full bloom. Garden fresh thyme and lemon make this zucchini loaf extra special. Moist and lightly sweetened, lemon and thyme add a bright, citrus and herb flavor to this zucchini loaf recipe. Recently I have been introducing more herbs and spices into my baking recipes. Herbs and spices add fragrance and flavor and have many health-protecting benefits similar to fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and other plant-based foods. Fresh herbs are easy to grow and contain higher levels of antioxidants than dried or processed forms.
Healthy Ingredients and Baking Tips
- Zucchini: Zucchini is a good source of vitamin C and A, potassium, folate, soluble and insoluble fiber. The green skin is rich in antioxidants that help protect the body from free-radical cell damage. Grate the zucchini using a box grater or food processor. Medium size zucchini works best, to avoid excess moisture in a larger squash, drain the grated zucchini or lightly pat with a paper towel.
- Fresh Thyme: Culinary thyme can be used fresh, dried, or as an essential oil and is found in sweet and savory recipes. In this recipe, first remove the leaves from the stem and then finely chop or cut up the leaves. If fresh thyme is not available use 1 teaspoon of dried thyme.
- Lemon juice and lemon zest: You will need one fresh lemon. Lemon zest is the bright yellow outer layer of the fruit and unlike lemon juice contains essential oils. I like to use a microplane zester to make lemon zest, but you can also use the smallest holes on a box grater. Be careful not to include the white skin of the lemon as it has a very bitter taste.
- Whole wheat pastry flour: A whole grain flour milled from a low-protein soft wheat, containing the whole bran and germ making it a healthier substitution for white flour in baking pastry, cookies, muffins, and quick breads. In recipes substitute 25% of the white flour with whole wheat pastry flour.
- Maple syrup: I like to use maple syrup to replace part of the granulated sugar. Maple syrup adds a natural sweet flavor, is more healthy and nutrient rich compared to granulated sugar.
- Olive oil: A combination of unsalted butter and olive oil ensures a moist and a light tender crumb. I like to use a extra light mild tasting olive oil in baking.
- Baking equipment: food processor or box grater, microplane zester, electric standup mixer with a paddle attachment or a electric handheld mixer, 9 by 5 inch loaf pan, measuring cups and spoons, whisk, spatula, sifter, parchment paper, no-stick baking spray, and a baker cooling rack.
- Baking techniques: Organize all your ingredients prior to starting the recipe, butter, buttermilk, eggs, and lemon at room temperature. Be careful not to over mix the flour mixture with the batter, I like to reserve a small amount and gently fold in with a spatula. After transferring the batter into the loaf pan, take a sharp knife and score the top by making a shallow cut down the center length of the loaf. This controls expansion during baking and adds to a beautiful presentation. During the last 5 to 7 minutes of baking time, look for browning and insert a toothpick to check if bread is cooked through.
Lemon Thyme Zucchini Loaf
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter at room temperature
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1/3 cup maple syrup
- 2 large eggs
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1/2 cup buttermilk
- 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon zest
- 1 1/2 cup shredded zucchini
- 2 cups all-purpose flour sifted
- 1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour sifted
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves finely cut-up
Lemon Glaze (optional): In a small bowl whisk together 1/2 cup powdered sugar and 1/4 teaspoon lemon juice, gradually add one to two teaspoons of heavy cream to create a glaze consistency.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a 9 inch by 5 inch loaf pan with a no-stick baking spray and line the bottom and 2 sides with parchment paper.
- In a medium bowl whisk together sifted all-purpose and whole wheat pastry flour, baking powder, baking soda, and fresh thyme leaves. Set aside.
- On medium speed with an electric or standup mixer beat the butter and sugar together until smooth, add olive oil and maple syrup, continue to beat until light and fluffy, approximately 3-4 minutes.
- Add vanilla, then eggs one at a time until well blended.
- On low speed, mix in lemon juice and lemon zest and add shredded zucchini.
- On slow speed, starting and ending with flour mixture alternate with buttermilk just until blended, being careful not over mix.
- Spoon batter into prepared loaf pan, and place on center rack of oven. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until top is lightly brown and when batter is cooked through using a tooth pick.
- Remove from oven and place on a cooling rack for 15 minutes. Remove from loaf pan and allow to completely cool on baking cooling rack.
- Store at room temperature for 1-2 days, or if desired wrap and place in the freezer for a later date.
For more zucchini recipes