Now, if you’re sensitive and a bit conservative about things, then please stop reading right now – because this recipe is quite simply naughty and inappropriate.
So let’s you and me just wait a moment while the prudes leave the room.
First of all there’s the simple matter of the zucchini. The British, with their characteristic reserve (no sex please, we’re British), refer to the zucchini as a courgette, as though a soft consonant and a diminutive ‘ette’ suffix will gloss over the fact that the zucchini – with its racy z and two c’s plumped up like bums or breasts – is quite simply the most carnal of vegetables. Linger at the greengrocer’s and exchange meaningful glances with passersby near the zucchini and you’ll see what I mean. They’re, how shall we say, longer than they are wide in a most useful way.* So please don’t call it a courgette. Give yourself up to the pleasure of the zucchini.
It’s not just the less-than-innocent zucchini that makes this recipe inappropriate, though. Zucchini bread, that staple of the Methodist bake sale, is generally a polite, restrained and penitential enough baked good to express proper Protestant virtue. It simply doesn’t taste voluptuous enough or provide enough moisture to lead you down that broad, easy road to hell. Well this one does. This is a zucchini bread that wants to be cake. And it wants you to eat it.
2 1/2 C plain flour
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp allspice
1/2 tsp mace (or nutmeg if you have no mace)
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 C sugar
1 C vegetable oil
3 large eggs
1 T pure vanilla extract (yes, that’s a tablespoon)
2 tsp lemon zest (and there’s that racy z again)
2 C coarsely grated zucchini (about one well-endowed zucchini)
1 C walnuts, crumbled and toasted
Preheat oven to 170C/325F. Butter and flour two 8x4x2 1/2 metal loaf pans.
Whisk flour, cinnamon, allspice, mace, salt, baking soda, and baking powder in a medium bowl to blend and set aside. Whisk sugar, vegetable oil, eggs, vanilla extract, and lemon peel in a large bowl to blend. Whisk in the flour mixture. Mix in the zucchini and walnuts. Pour batter into prepared pans.
Bake breads until tester inserted into centre comes out clean, about 1 hour 15 minutes. Let stand 10 minutes. Turn breads out onto a cooling rack and cool completely before slicing.
This stores fairly well, though generally it doesn’t last long. I usually freeze one loaf and eat the other. It might be tempting to add dried fruit such as raisins or apricots, but they will just sink to the bottom.
*12 August 2012: Just as if to prove a point, my neighbour Lucy, who is a transsexual prostitute, dropped in today. When she saw the pile of zucchini I’d brought in from the farmer’s market, she pointed and said, “You know what those are good for, don’t you?” I doubt Lucy has ever actually eaten a zucchini.