Isn’t it funny how our tastes evolve as we age? Things that we were horrified by years ago become our favorites out of the blue, leaving us with no idea of when or why our opinions changed. Sometimes we don’t even notice that we’ve changed at all.
For instance, my mother ordered a slice of zucchini bread once on a family vacation eighteen years ago. We were in who-knows-where Pennsylvania at the crack of dawn, eating breakfast at a picnic table outside a white clapboard coffee shop. I have no memory of what I ordered, but I remember being taken aback when my mom sat down with that bread.
It was like I didn’t even know her anymore. Who was this woman, and why was she trying to ruin breakfast with vegetables? She offered me a bite and I recoiled in horror (internally, at least). Don’t get me wrong, I liked vegetables, but in my thirteen year-old mind, there was something utterly wrong about eating bread loaded with squash.
But times have changed. Here I am eighteen years later, writing a blog post about zucchini bread. I don’t know when I moved over to the dark green side, but I’m now a card-carrying member. I mean, what’s not to love about soft, sweet, cinnamon-scented quick bread? It’s perfect for breakfast or a snack or dessert. Sure, there’s zucchini in there, but aside from a few green flecks, it’s not even noticeable. It’s only there for moisture. And you could use buttermilk or sour cream or yogurt for that anytime of year, but when the produce aisles are exploding with ripe, reasonably-priced zucchini, why not take full advantage?!
This zucchini bread recipe is a total classic and would be great with a cup of chopped nuts stirred into the batter, but today, let’s get a little crazy and fill our quick bread with a tunnel of melted cinnamon-sugar. Yes, you read that correctly. This isn’t any old zucchini bread–this is Cinnamon Swirl Zucchini Bread!
So how do you get all that cinnamon-sugar goodness inside your quickbread? Well, it’s surprisingly easy. Once the simple no-mixer-required batter is stirred together, half of it is poured into the bottom of a loaf pan, then blanketed in cinnamon-sugar before the rest of the batter is layered on top. As the zucchini bread bakes, the cinnamon-sugar layer melts and moves as the bread rises. Once the loaf is completely cool, you can slice it up and see a little swirl of sweet cinnamon goodness throughout 😍
Oh yes, this Cinnamon Swirl Zucchini Bread is something that even little thirteen year-old me could get excited about. And who wouldn’t? It’s moist, sweet, lightly spiced quick bread swirled with melted cinnamon-sugar, and it comes with a small serving of vegetables that you can’t even taste. It’s the dream.
For the pan:
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon neutral-flavored oil
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
1/2 cup neutral-flavored oil (I use canola)
1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs, room temperature
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 cups shredded zucchini, not packed (about 1 1/2 large zucchini)
Preheat oven to 350F.
Grease the pan. In a small bowl, use a fork to whisk together flour and oil. Use a pastry brush to paint the entire inside of a 9×5″ loaf pan. Pour out any excess. Set aside.
Prepare the cinnamon swirl. In a separate small bowl, use a fork to whisk together granulated sugar and cinnamon. Set aside.
Make the zucchini bread. In a medium-large mixing bowl, whisk together flour, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
In a large mixing bowl, whisk together oil, light brown sugar, and granulated sugar. The mixture will be clumpy, like wet sand. Add eggs one-by-one, whisking to combine after each addition. Stir in vanilla, followed by shredded zucchini. Add dry ingredients, and stir just until combined (no more than 20-25 strokes).
Transfer half the batter into prepared pan. Sprinkle with all of the cinnamon swirl mixture. Top with the remaining batter, spreading to cover the cinnamon-sugar layer. Lightly tap the pan on the counter to release any large air bubbles. Bake 40-50 minutes, tenting with foil at the 20 minute mark. Bread is done when a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean or with only a few moist crumbs.
Let zucchini bread cool completely in the pan on a wire rack. Once the bread is cool, run a small thin knife around the edges of the pan before inverting to release. Slice and serve.
Store bread in an airtight container at room temperature for up to five days.
If you don’t wish to use the cinnamon swirl, add an extra teaspoon of cinnamon to the zucchini bread batter.