How is it that in all of this time blogging and baking things, I’ve never posted a classic vegan zucchini bread recipe? I’m correcting that today, having happily enjoyed this moist, tender loaf in the past week.
This is a really great thing to do with all the zucchini that might be stacking up at your local farmer’s market. Or, if you have a garden and it’s teeming with zucchini right now, this is one place that your vegetables can go.
Why this is my favorite vegan zucchini bread
Here’s what I love about this quickbread: simplicity. It’s pretty much a one bowl recipe. No complicated steps, as with this pumpkin chocolate marble loaf. No mix-ins aside from the zucchini, though you’re welcome to add chocolate chips or nuts if they’re calling to you. Unlike a lot of quickbreads that I make, it isn’t heavily loaded with autumnal baking spices. It’s only mildly spiced with cinnamon.
The loaf is plenty moist and tender, thanks to the zucchini. And that’s what stands out about it: no bells or whistles, nothing more or less. It’s delicious the way it is. Like many of my favorite baked goods—banana bread, cranberry walnut muffins, and more—it’s nice as an afternoon treat and also very nice at breakfast.
Classic vegan zucchini bread tips
There are lots of approaches to handling the zucchini in zucchini bread. Some recipes call for leaving the grated zucchini as moist as it is upon grating. Others call for squeezing the zucchini before adding it to batter, so as not to make an overly wet loaf.
For this classic vegan zucchini bread, I took a middle-of-the-road approach, pressing my grated zucchini gently with a tea towel to remove a little extra moisture, but not squeezing it dry. It’s the perfect amount of moisture, at least for me!
Most zucchini recipes that I’ve looked at have a range of one to two cups of grated zucchini. I found that two was too much (my loaf turned out “salady,” to quote this column). On the other hand, the zucchini seemed to get lost when I used only a cup.
In the end, I went for a cup and a half, or about 145 grams. It’s a lightly packed, level cup. If you like a more cake-like texture in your quickbreads, you can grate your zucchini on a microplane grater, as I do in my favorite carrot cake recipe. If you do use finely grated zucchini, one and one quarter cups is perfect (and should also be about 145 grams).
Keep it simple (and skip the egg replacer)
You’ll see that this recipe doesn’t call for egg replacer of any kind. I often find that quickbreads don’t really need an egg replacer to rise and have good structure. Adding flax egg to a loaf or muffin unnecessarily can make for a gummy texture, at least in my experience. And I love using aquafaba, but I usually save it for layer cakes and cookies, which have more delicate texture.
There’s no flax egg, yogurt, mashed banana, or applesauce in this classic vegan zucchini bread. Just vegetable oil and vegan buttermilk (non-dairy milk + lemon) in the wet ingredients. The combination of leavening agent and buttermilk is really enough to help this bread rise and keep its shape.
Don’t rush the baking time
Speaking of, I tend to find that my quick breads can be a little flat—or even sunken on top—unless I bake them about 5 minutes longer than I think I need to. The same goes for this recipe. I had the nicest rise when I left the bread in the oven for at least a full fifty minutes. Fifty-five minutes didn’t hurt. A longer baking time means a beautiful, deep golden exterior and a light, set interior.
Ingredient swaps and subs
I used all-purpose flour for this recipe, though I’m pretty sure that white whole wheat or light spelt flour would work as well. If there’s a gluten free flour mix that you love and use often, you can swap it directly for the all-purpose flour.
In place of oil, you can try using applesauce or non-dairy yogurt. I haven’t tried either in this loaf yet, but I’ve had good results with both substitutes in other quickbreads. Sometimes, I stir a little tahini into either applesauce or yogurt for extra moisture.
As I mentioned, I kept the spices pretty minimal here, so that the simplicity of the vegan zucchini bread could shine through. But you’re welcome to add a spice that you love to the batter. A pinch of cardamom, some nutmeg, and a bit of ground ginger would all be very nice.
- 1 3/4 cups (210 g) unbleached, all-purpose flour
- 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 3/4 cup (177 mL) non-dairy milk
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1/2 cup (96 g) cane sugar
- 1/2 cup (108 g) lightly packed brown sugar
- 1/3 cup vegetable oil (such as safflower, grapeseed, canola, or melted coconut)
- 1 1/2 cups (145 g) grated zucchini, pressed gently with paper towels or cloth to remove some moisture
- Preheat your oven to 350F and lightly grease or oil an 8.5 x 4.5 x 2.75 inch nonstick loaf pan.
- In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and soda, salt, and cinnamon.
- In a separate bowl, combine the non-dairy milk and lemon juice. Allow it to sit for a moment. Then, stir in the sugars and oil. Whisk the wet ingredients together.
- Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and use a spatula or spoon to fold them together. When the batter is fully mixed (some small clumps are OK, but you shouldn't have any more streaks of flour visible), fold in the zucchini.
- Pour the batter into your baking pan. Bake for 50-55 minutes, or until the loaf is golden brown and the top is domed and set. Start checking the loaf at 45 minutes, just to be certain that it's not burning or cooking too quickly.
- Allow the loaf to cool on a cooling rack for 15-20 minutes before turning it out of the loaf pan. Then, gently invert it to remove the loaf from the pan. Allow the bread to cool completely—another 2-3 hours—before slicing and serving. Store leftover slices in the fridge for up to 3 days, or freeze for up to 6 weeks.
It’s funny: zucchini always registers in my mind as a late summer vegetable. And so zucchini treats are usually something that I make in August and September, even into October. It’s hitting me for the first time that August is really and truly in full swing.
I guess that quick passage of time is the least remarkable thing to say about this strange period we’re all living through. But still, where did the unusual summer of 2020 go? I’ve so appreciated having warm weather as part of reopening in NYC: it makes sitting and walking and meeting outdoors a lot easier.
I’m intent on enjoying this last official month of summer as much as I possibly can, regardless of the circumstances and all that’s happening in the world. Zucchini bread is one extra way to make it sweet.