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Sweet Buttermilk Zucchini Lemon Bread

If you planted a garden this year, like I did, you probably had a zucchini plant or two and forgot just how many zucchinis one plant can put out through the season. I also forget just how fast they grow and always end up with a bunch of monstrous size zucchinis. These larger veggies actually don’t taste quite as crisp and fresh as the smaller ones, and so I’m always looking for a great way to utilize them.

Breads and muffins are favorite amongst my two boys and my co-workers (with whom I share), and this sweet buttermilk lemon bread is a go-to recipe all year long with both fresh, and frozen, shredded zucchini. This is also a great way to get your kids to eat their veggies as they beg me to make zucchini breads all year long.

What You Need:

This is actually a pretty simple recipe that doesn’t take up too much time. I always double or triple the ingredients and make a bunch of loaves to share. They also keep extremely well in the refrigerator for up to a week, and make a great breakfast bread with coffee or tea.

Cooking Time

Overall Prep Time: 15 – 20 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes at 350 degrees
Makes: 2 loaves

For Bread:

Mix together in medium bowl and set aside

  • 4 cups flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 4 tsp baking powder

Mix together in large bowl

  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup canola or vegetable oil
  • 2 ⅔ cups sugar
  • 4 Tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 cup buttermilk

Fold in:

  • 2 ½ cups shredded zucchini
For Icing:

Mix together

  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 4 Tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 Tablespoons milk

Optional, for added lemon flavor:

  • 1 teaspoon concentrated lemon extract
  • 2 Tablespoons lemon zest

For my directions, I used standard 9x5 inch bread pans. This recipe can easily be adjusted for different sized pans or even muffins, but be sure to change your baking times to make sure it bakes all the way through. For muffins you’ll want to bake for only 25-30 minutes.

Pre-Heat Oven to 350 Degrees

Step 1: Wash and Cut Zucchini

Obviously I’m using fresh zucchini from the garden, and if you do so you’ll want to make sure it is good and clean since you shred the whole zucchini, skin and all. I use a vegetable wash that works great to remove any residue, dirt, or other yuckies you may not want on your food.

Plus, since I almost always have big veggies I left growing too long, I need to get them cut down to a more manageable size for shredding.

What to remember:

Small, younger zucchinis are best for salads and sandwiches, whereas these larger, older zucchinis work best in recipes where their flavor and texture is still noticeable, but the loss of sweetness isn’t that big of a deal.

Step 2: Remove Seeds

Older zucchini often have matured to the point that they have large seeds. Since these seeds are not easily shredded and do not mix in well to a batter, you should remove them as to not interrupt your bread eating enjoyment later on. These are simple to remove, I use a spoon and scoop them out into a separate bowl to feed to my chickens.

What to remember:

Mature seeds can also be harvested for the following growing season. Simply remove and place on a drying rack until you can store them until spring. Make sure they are allowed to breathe and not stored in a plastic bag.

Step 3: Shred Zucchini and Squeeze Out Water

You can use either a food processor or hand grater for this job. Since I was shredding an inordinate amount of zucchini, I took advantage of the food processor I bought a few years back to make short work of it. These things are amazing, shred and cut large amounts of veggies in almost no time, are safe enough for your kids to help, and clean SUPER easily!

Zucchini is a very hydrated vegetable, and I always make sure to place my shreds in a colander to help let the liquid drain away. Afterwards I squeeze out any excess with my hands before using it in the recipe. A little bit of moisture is good and helps keep your bread moist, but too much and you could weigh the loaves down. The finer the shreds you make, the fluffier the bread. This is also true of how much moisture you squeeze out. Let your zucchini sit until you are ready for it.

What to remember:

Never be afraid to shred too much. If you have a bunch of zucchini that needs to be used up, then anything left over can be easily frozen so you can use it in breads and other recipes all year long.

Step 4: Mix Dry Ingredients and Set Aside

Mix up your flour, salt, and baking powder in a medium bowl and set aside for later. Be sure to mix it well. I occasionally will mix it back and forth between two bowls to make sure of this as later, when you add it to the other ingredients, you want to make sure it becomes a uniform consistency.

What to remember:

Be sure to measure your baking powder and salt correctly as this is what will help make your bread rise.

Step 5: Mix Wet Ingredients

Beat eggs well, but keep them in liquid form before adding in the rest of the ingredients. I like to use a whisk rather than an electric beater for this recipe as it helps keep it from getting too overmixed and heavy. Be sure the substance of the mix is of a soupy texture, and the sugar is well on its way towards dissolving within the oil and buttermilk.

What to remember:

Most people don’t keep buttermilk on hand, but it is very easy to make from what you probably already have at home. 1 cup of milk (whole is best) to 1 to 2 Tablespoons of either lemon or vinegar allowed to sit for a few minutes makes a good buttermilk base. You can also use sour cream or greek yogurt thinned with milk as a substitute.

Step 6: Fold in Shredded Zucchini

Now fold in your shredded zucchini to the wet mix. At first it will seem that it will not mix well, but if you keep folding it will become uniform in consistency. Keep folding and stirring until the zucchini has become a part of the overall mix, which should still be of a soupy texture.

What to remember:

Use a fork, rather than the whisk for this as the zucchini will get caught up in the whisk tines and cause you to stop to remove it while mixing.

Step 7: Mix Dry Ingredients to Wet

Bit by bit begin to stir in the dry ingredients to the wet. Using a fork, to keep the zucchini from getting too caught up in a mixer, mix all ingredients together until no lumps are seen. You can use an electric mixer for this step as well, but be sure not to overmix since it is supposed to be more of a liquid like batter even with the dry ingredients mixed in.

What to remember:

If you pour it all in at once it will become difficult to stir in and you will end up with lumps of flour that may not end up mixing well.

Step 8: Grease Pans

Zucchini bread is notorious for sticking to the bottom of the pan for some reason, and I’ve found that a non-stick spray just doesn’t cut it when it comes to greasing the pan. Use butter or vegetable shortening to provide a good coat to the inside of your pan and avoid the worst – your bread sticking.

What to remember:

Butter and shortening also provides a nice crisp brown to the edges and sides of your bread when done, which only adds to the overall experience.

Step 9: Fill Pans Two-Thirds Full

This is a light textured, light battered bread, so you’ll only want to fill each pan one-half to two-thirds full to allow it to raise and bake well supported by the pan. Overfilling will cause it to overflow as it rises early in the baking process, and create a mess in the meantime.

What to remember:

This is the point where if you want to change the flavor a bit by adding in any fruits- you can do so directly in the pan. We had some frozen blueberries available and so mixed them into the batter for two of the loaves. Raspberries and strawberries also make great additions!

Step 10: Bake

Place the pans towards the center of the oven and bake for 45 minutes at 350 degrees. Be sure to check your center to come out clean, and bake at 5 minute intervals if not quite done yet. The loaves should rise and be somewhat flat on the top, and also present a bit of golden brown when finished.

What to remember:

If you have added fresh, or frozen fruit, the added moisture may cause the bread to need additional bake time. Be sure to check these loaves carefully and allow to finish baking after you’ve removed any loaves that have finished. I generally allow an extra 10 minutes for these.

Step 11: Make Glaze

While you bread begins to cool, mix the powdered sugar, milk and lemon juice together to form a glaze. You can do this at any point while the bread is baking, but be sure to cover it well to keep it from setting up while you wait. This should be a liquid, pourable consistency..

You can always leave off the glaze if you are trying to cut back on any extra sugar, but I assure you the glaze makes this bread extra yummy. And when you consider how healthy zucchini is for you, adding a bit of extra sweet can’t hurt, can it?

What to remember:

If you want a thicker glaze, add less milk and lemon juice or more powdered sugar, to form a more viscous pour over your bread once it has cooled.

Step 12: Pour Glaze Over Warm Bread

If you prefer the more liquid glaze, then pour over your bread while still warm. I prefer to do it while still in the pan to allow it to soak well into the top, and also create less of a mess. You can also do this after removing from the pan- just be sure to place it over an easily cleaned surface.

If you are using a thicker glaze, make sure your bread is completely cool before pouring to keep it from melting upon the warm surface.

What to remember:

If you poke holes in the top of your bread with a fork the glaze will also soak into the top layer of your bread to form a sweeter top.

Enjoy!

We love this bread warm and fresh from the oven, as well as after being stored within the refrigerator- which helps it set up and makes it easy to slice. Try it with a little bit of melted butter as well for a rich taste with your morning coffee or tea.

I hope you enjoy this bread as much as my household does! We make it regularly through the year using the frozen zucchini that didn’t get used up during the growing season.

If you have any questions or comments, please leave them below and we will get back to you. And, as always, please share!

About The Author

Danielle McLeod

Danielle McLeod cuts a tragic figure in the High School English classroom teaching literature by day, and moonlighting as a writer and graphic artist by night. Published in a variety of travel magazines, and now a blog, Danielle enjoys coming up with home and garden projects to complete with her two young boys. A native of Michigan, she resides in Southeastern New Mexico with her variety of horses, poultry, and variable mix of rescue dogs (there’s a cat or two in there as well). In her free time she enjoys travel, art, photography, and a good book!

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