If you have ever planted zucchini, then you already know that you probably yield more than you can give away. Luckily, zucchini freezes wonderfully well with just a few short steps and can be taken out even in the dead of winter to prepare with some of your favorite recipes.
Not only does this bring a touch of freshness to a time of year when everything looks dead and drab, but you can easily sneak your veggies into savory comfort foods the whole family will enjoy.
This layered cinnamon zucchini breakfast bread is a dense, moist bread perfect for slicing and serving up with large parts of butter, and can even be toasted or made into a French toast without falling apart! Let’s put it this way, my two boys, ages 4 and 8 devoured over half a loaf in just one sitting- so it is definitely kid approved!
What You Need
For the Bread
This will make a heavier, stickier dough- similar to a true bread dough prior to rising.
2 cups fresh or frozen (thawed) zucchini
1 cup sugar
4 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla
¾ cup melted butter
¼ cup sweetened evaporated milk
⅓ cup water
*note – you can substitute approximately ½ cup of milk for the evaporated milk and water. If you do so you may also want to add ¼ cup more sugar as well to bring more sweetness to the bread.
For the Cinnamon Layer
This layer is an excellent way to infuse your bread with a subtly sweet cinnamon taste without feeling like you are biting into a layer of sugar.
1 ½ cups brown sugar
1 Tablespoon water
1 cup melted butter
1 Tablespoon cinnamon
¾ cups flour
Optional Cinnamon Sugar Glaze
If you are looking to bring more sweetness to this bread, then you can glaze it after it comes out of the oven while it is still warm. This was not my preference and so this step was left out.
1 cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
Approximately 2 Tablespoons of milk
How Much it Makes: 2 9-inch loaf pans
Prep time: ~15 minutes
Cook time: 50-60 minutes @ 350 Degrees Fahrenheit
I love using zucchini in all sorts of recipes, and enjoy coming up with new ways to present it. One of the great things about sweeter bread is how forgiving they are when adding in ingredients to change the flavor without ruining the loaf. I love slightly sweet, heavier bread in the winter – and this idea came about when I was trying to make room in the deep freeze for holiday goodies. Basically, I looked at what I had in the cupboard and went to work.
Although my Lemon Buttermilk Zucchini Bread is often requested by my children, I was craving something less sweet and in step with the holiday season (although this bread would be good year round)! What I loved best about this recipe? You can just dump everything into the bowls and mix without any special blending or folding in! This was quite convenient for a busy mom of two boys!
Step 1: Preheat Oven to 350 Degrees Fahrenheit
I’m the queen of letting whatever I’m baking come up to temperature with the oven and adjusting my cooking time. But when it comes to bread you really shouldn’t ever do this (you really shouldn’t EVER), as you don’t want your bread to rise with the heat and dry out with the extended time.
When using stoneware or ceramic baking dishes you often want to allow the pan to come to heat with the oven, but I find if I place them on the surface of the stove they warm significantly, but are not too warm to begin pouring raw ingredients into. This helps them transition from a cooler to the warmer environment to avoid cracking.
Step 2: Squeeze All Water From the Zucchini
If using frozen zucchini you obviously also have to thaw it out. I leave mine in the sink under lukewarm water to help soften and thaw (takes about 10 to 15 minutes), and then poke small holes in the bottom to allow the water from the vegetable to begin draining (you can begin to squeeze it out as well). Once the sitting water is gone I hand squeeze the rest of the water out with durable paper towels or cheesecloth. I do this with fresh zucchini as well.
Step 3: Mix All Bread Ingredients in One Bowl
This is literally my favorite bread because of this step: simply combine all the ingredients in one bowl and stir. You can most definitely use a hand mixer or other mixing tool, but I found that by the time I got all that ready to go I could be almost done hand mixing with a wooden spoon.
This dough will be thick and sticky, and the trick is to make sure the zucchini is well incorporated into the rest of the ingredients. This is especially important with thawed zucchini as that has a tendency to stick to each other more easily than fresh. I find the consistency to be not quite strong enough to hold the spoon up on its own; perhaps a little less than a raised bread dough that is ready to knead.
Step 4: Mix all Cinnamon Layer Ingredients in a Smaller Bowl
I love this mixture as it is not a crumbly, sugary sweet bite, but rather incorporates as its own rich layer within the bread. The trick is to allow the brown sugar to mostly dissolve in the water and melted butter and then incorporate well with the flour. Be careful not to use too much flour as you will lose some of the flavors.
The consistency of this should be almost alike loose oatmeal but not runny. Just make sure there are no hidden pockets of unmixed flour. I used a fork to mix it to help cut it while I stirred and keep pockets of a dry mixture from forming.
Step 5: Butter Your Bread Pans
I ALWAYS struggle with getting zucchini bread out of the pan when I use a non-stick spray. I find lathering the sides with butter (or even vegetable shortening) is the way to go. Make sure you do this and get well into the corners and along the bottom seams where dough likes to stick when baking. I have a variety of different bread pans and find that this is a consistent method no matter whether I am using a non-stick pan, a cheap aluminum pan, or even stoneware.
Step 6: Pour Approximately ½ Bread Mixture into Pans
Pour or spoon (I found spooning to be easier) about half your mixture into the pans. This layered each pan approximately ¼ to ⅓ of the way. With a rubber spatula, you can help spread it out a bit so it settles well into the corners and along the bottom. You want it fairly even across the top, although some inconsistencies are fine to create a fun, interesting layer of cinnamon.
Step 7: Pour Approximately ½ Cinnamon Mixture Over Bread Mix
Now add about half your cinnamon mixture to the bread layer. Since it will be thicker, dollop it out using a spoon and then spread it gently across the top. This should be a perfect layer, but you also want to take care not to mix it into the bread layer below. A few inconsistencies will help make interesting patterns while it bakes, but you want to make sure it serves as a stand-alone layer for flavor.
Step 8: Pour Rest of Bread Mixture into Pans
Now pour the rest of your bread mix over the cinnamon layer. It’s okay if you do not completely cover all of the middle section, but do try to gently spread it out over the top to form a fairly even surface.
Step 9: Pour Remaining Cinnamon Mixture over Top of Bread
To finish your layering, pour what is left of the cinnamon mix over the top. You can work this into the dough slightly using your spatula or even a fork. Don’t mix or go too deep, but some surface integration will help infuse those flavors into the top of the bread loaf. You can also top off your bread with a little bit of cinnamon and granulated sugar if you wish for a slightly crunchy, sweeter top- especially if you don’t plan on using the glaze.
Step 10: Bake for 55-60 Minutes @ 350 Degrees Fahrenheit and Allow to Cool
The above steps truly don’t take any time at all and can go even faster if you have children old enough to do the stirring for you. Since it is a ‘dump and mix’ type recipe, you don’t have to worry about anyone screwing it up by over mixing any ingredients.
55 minutes was the sweet spot for me as the knife came out clean and when we did cut them it was dense, but still had a ton of moisture and tasted great. I was going for a heavier bread so I could use it in various ways, and I was very happy with the results.
If you do find that your bread is not coming out of the pan as easily as you would hope, simply use a rubber spatula to run down the sides. The tip of the spatula should be flexible enough to work itself under the edges of the bread to help loosen it. The only pan I had to do this with was the non-stick pan (ironically enough), but once I did so it came out effortlessly and without any breaks or cracks.
The stick, the thick dough had me worried it wouldn’t rise as much as I wanted it to, but it turned out perfect. The layers are beautifully inconsistent with each slice, yet stayed very defined. Plus, the flavor integrated well with the surrounding loaf and wasn’t sugary sweet.
We had to help ourselves to some warm bread right out of the oven with a melty pat of butter. The cinnamon was infused throughout the whole loaf, and the cinnamon layer was a perfect bite of extra goodness. Tomorrow we are going to make French Toast with it- if it lasts that long!
If you have any questions or comments, just let us know below! And, as always, please share!