Now's the time when we're all awash in squash.
Zucchini or courgettes: no matter what you call them, dealing with the abundance is becoming a crisis.
1. pick 'em while they are small, no more than hand length.
This hopefully stops them from morphing into a giant menacing vegetal club of hulk-like proportions ...a thought that keeps most gardeners up in fear at night.
Those giant squash are called 'marrows' in the UK.
They've only got one word - courgette - for all kinds of squash, but a whole separate word for a squash that got too big. Clearly it is a pressing long-term issue when your language develops a whole different word to describe giant squash.
It's not always possible to catch 'em young and tender, as inevitably one sneaky squash succeeds in hiding until it hits that giant vegetable stage, at which point you might as well go for a laugh and give the world record a run for its money.
2. Slice them thin, coat them in flour, and fry them in bacon fat.
Mmmmm. Bacony crispy squash. Very tasty and a great way to make a healthy vegetable sorta bad for you. But so bacony good.
3. Make cake.
Cake makes everything better, and if you stockpike it in the freezer, you may even enjoy it, after the painful memories of squash overload fade from your mind, in, oh, January.
This version, though one of the million [make that 29.8 million] floating around out there, features whole grain spelt flour and has a secret ingredient that really brings out the flavor - orange extract. You could add a tablespoon of orange zest if you don't have any, but the orange extract really gives you a huge hit of flavor, unlike zest which seems to fade away on baking. The extract isn't cheap, but it lasts forever in the fridge and is useful in lots of stuff - I love it in cheesecakes, too.
In the US we call this Zucchini Bread, but it's really not all that bready in the traditional bread sense. It is a quick bread-type recipe, no yeast, no kneading, no rising. In the UK it would be called a loaf or cake.
In honor of all things British this summer, I'm rebranding this Courgette Cake, which makes it sound exotic, but should in no way imply it is any less applicable as a breakfast food.
Cake for breakfast sounds wicked, but really you're eating your veggies, so go on!
You can use green squash (aka zucchini if you differentiate) or yellow squash, or squash of any size or shape or color. The yellow squash blend in better if you are trying to sneak some veg into the diet of, say, a visiting teenager who claims to not like squash, but willingly ate this anyway.
Thus proving that cake really does make everything better.
Make with either chocolate chips, loaf on right and slices on left, or pecans with cinnamon sugar sprinkle, loaf on left and slice on right. Serve with Fresh Apricot Jam.
Courgette Cake, alias Zucchini Bread.
My starting point was from Bon Appetit, Y'All by Virginia Willis, with some modifications for whole grains, increased volume of squash and nuts, adding chocolate chips, ginger and olive oil, no cinnamon, and my secret ingredient of orange extract. Oh, and I gave you some gram measurements. Other than that, it was exactly the same.
3 and a half cups* white spelt flour (420 grams at 120 grams per cup)
3/4 cups raw or unrefined sugar (150 grams)
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon powdered ginger
3 large eggs
1/2 cup canola oil
1/2 cup light tasting olive oil
1 tablespoon orange extract
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
4 zucchini or yellow squash (6 to 8 inches long), grated (about 2 to 3 cups)
1 1/2 cups chopped pecans or mini chocolate chips
*measure with dip and sweep method.
2 tablespoons of sugar plus 1 teaspoon cinnamon for sprinkling on top (optional)
You will need two, 8 by 5 inch loaf pans, or 4, 4.5 by 2.5 inch mini loaf pans, greased or sprayed with nonstick baking spray.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Whisk the spelt flour, sugar, salt, baking powder, baking soda and powdered ginger in a large mixing bowl until completely combined.
In a smaller bowl, whisk the eggs together, then add the oils (or use all canola or all olive oil), orange extract and vanilla extract and whisk until combined.
Add the liquid mixture to the dry mix, and stir gently until most of the flour is absorbed. Add the squash and nuts or chocolate and mix until just combined.
Note: I like to divide the batter in half and add nuts to half and chocolate chips to the other half, making two different kinds of bread for almost no effort.
Equally distribute into the prepared loaf pans, sprinkle with additional sugar and spice for a nicely glazed and crispy top if you prefer.
Bake until the top is brown and a toothpick tester comes out clean, about 1 hour for the larger loaf size and 35 to 40 minutes for the smaller loaf size..
Stores for up to a week on the counter in an airtight container, or freezes for up to 6 months.