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It’s that time of year again: The time when cooler days have me itching to bake bread once again, but when the zucchini is threatening to take over unless I harvest it. I have been frantically using zucchini in everything; zucchini pie, stuffed zucchini, zucchini pickles, even zucchini brownies. But still, the zucchini keeps coming. I have an especially prolific patch of yellow zucchini this year. Out of desperation, or perhaps fear of the zucchini rising up like zombies, I decided to combine zucchini with my love of bread.
Zucchini bread is usually a sweet bread, but I was looking for something to use with sandwiches. The first experiment resulted in a moist, savory Golden Semolina Zucchini Tomato Bread. The experiment must have worked, because most of the loaf disappeared in mere hours. That encouraged me to design this Zucchini Olive Yeast Bread.
For the tomato bread I used golden semolina flour to boost the protein level. But olives can stand up to something with more body, so I added a bit of white whole wheat flour. If you can’t find white whole wheat flour in your area, regular whole wheat flour would work well too.
If you have ever purchased a loaf of olive bread that was tasty, but so hard your jaw hurt from chewing, this is the recipe you have been looking for. The zucchini keeps the bread almost white-bread moist. Real Mediterranean flavor results from the added Feta cheese, Kalamata olives, and toasted pine nuts. We served slices dipped in olive oil. And better yet, the bread stayed fresh for 3 days. It may stay fresh even longer, but we ate it all in the first 3 days. I would like to say that we had company to help us devour it. We didn’t.
Since the bread is very soft, it needs the structure of a pan to keep it together. Using a smaller loaf pan will give you a very high loaf, like that in the photo. A larger loaf pan will yield a flatter loaf.
Zucchini Olive Yeast Bread Recipe
¾ cup lukewarm water
2 tbsp honey
2 tsp active dry yeast
3 - 3½ cups bread flour, separated
1 cup white whole wheat flour
2 cups grated (not pureed) zucchini
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp salt
1 cup crumbled Feta cheese
½ cup chopped Kalamata olives
¼ cup pine nuts
In a large bowl, or the stand mixer bowl, combine the water, yeast, and honey. Stir and let stand 15 minutes or until the yeast is foamy. Add 1 cup of bread flour. Beat to combine. Cover and let sit for 2 hours. Meanwhile toast the pine nuts in a dry frying pan over medium heat until just browned (about 5 minutes). Set aside to cool. Add the remaining ingredients except the olives and pine nuts. Knead for about 4 minutes, adding more flour if necessary to keep dough held together. Add the olives and pine nuts and continue kneading for another minute or until they are well combined with the dough.
NOTE: This dough is very soft due to the zucchini moisture. You want the dough to hold together, but not to be too dry. Transfer to an oiled bowl. Cover and let rise for one hour or until doubled in size. Scrape dough out onto a floured board. Let rest for 10 minutes. Form dough into a loaf and place in a greased 8½ x 4½ inch pan or 9 x 5 inch pan. Cover and let rise ½ - 1 hour.
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Score the top of the loaf. Bake for 50 - 75 minutes or until internal temperature reaches 190 degrees. Remove from oven. Let cool for 5 minutes. Remove from pan and completely cool before slicing. This bread is delicious dipped in extra-virgin olive oil and served with a simple meal. It also turns everyday sandwiches into something special. Toasted slices make a nice bruschetta or crostini
Both of these experiments have worked out so well, I am planning to create something else. Maybe a zucchini herb yeast bread or a zucchini ricotta yeast bread. Or maybe both — the zucchini patch doesn't seem to be slowing down.