Ovaltine Black Bottom Zucchini Bread

If you've read our new bio, you know that Audrey's and my illustrious baking careers started with an exclusive speciality in banana bread. Nowadays, we rarely repeat recipes. But back then, we had a family recipe for chocolate chip banana bread that we probably made at least once a month, every time the bananas went brown before they got eaten. Although I know I must have helped bake other things now and then, that's the only recipe I remember ever baking for years.

Do you have any recipes like that? Recipes so loved that the paper is covered in dried batter and chocolate smears? Recipes that seem to represent certain eras?

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We've since branched out, and now we're so distracted by the possibilities of brownies, cookies, and cupcakes and the endless variations thereupon that banana bread has become a handful-of-times-per-year thing, rather than a monthly thing. It's even less common for me (Molly) here at school, since I don't keep fresh fruit in the room so never find myself with a conveniently brown batch of bananas. In fact, it dawned on me recently that I couldn't remember the last time that I myself had even baked any kind of quick loaf at all. 

So, of course, always on the lookout for ideas for my next baking project, I decided to rectify that.

I don't know about you, but I forget zucchini bread exists approximately 96% of the time. But when I do remember it's like, "Woah, right, yum, yes please." 

Remember last spring/early summer when I was having a carrot cake moment? Zucchini bread is a lot like carrot cake. I mean, vegetables? In cake? It should be a no, no. But it's beautiful. 

The thing about vegetables in cake is that they add tons of moisture without overwhelming it with super vegetable-y flavor. In so many ways, this is an ideal vegetable situation. Vegetables that don't taste like vegetables. Vegetables in cake form. Vegetables + chocolate. Don't you wish vegetables always came with chocolate? I do. (We're pretending that the butter and sugar don't cancel the vegetables out.)

Because it's me, I couldn't just make zucchini bread. I had to make it fancy somehow. I'd recently made Joy's Best Chocolate Buttercream to frost these brown butter blondies and so had Ovaltine on the brain (spoiler: Ovaltine is the secret ingredient). I did some searching for recipes that use Ovaltine, and came across black bottom banana bread. In a stroke of genius (or craving), it occurred to me to swap banana for zucchini and call it a plan.

It's no secret that chocolate and zucchini go well together. If you haven't tired Chocolate Zucchini Bread yet, what have you been doing with your life? So it was no surprise that Ovaltine + zucchini bread was awesome. 

The only thing I would change if I made this bread again would be to replace more of the regular zucchini bread with the Ovaltine + zucchini mixture, so that, well, there was just more. It was my favorite part. But! Don't get me wrong, the zucchini bread part is awesome, too. It should be, it's from Joy. And when has she ever steered us wrong? (Hint: never.) The good news for you is that I have adjusted the recipe to have a higher ratio of Ovaltine zucchini to plain zucchini so I can save you from the same regrets. You're welcome.

- Molly

Ovaltine Black Bottom Zucchini Bread

Adapted from Joy the Baker

3 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
3 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon fresh grated nutmeg
pinch of ground cloves
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon buttermilk
1 cup vegetable oil
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar
2 cups shredded zucchini
1 cup Ovaltine

Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Grease and flour an 8×4-inch or 9×5-inch loaf pan.  Set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt and spices.  Set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flax seed meal, buttermilk, vegetable oil, vanilla extract, and sugars.  Whisk thoroughly, then add the shredded zucchini.

Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and fold together with a spatula.  Make sure all of the flour is thoroughly incorporated into the batter.

Measure out two cups of batter and mix with Ovaltine. Transfer to bottom of prepared loaf pan. Cover with remaining zucchini batter. Place in oven and bake for about 1 hour, or until a skewer inserted into the center of the bread comes out clean.

Allow to cool in pan for 20 minutes before inverting onto a wire rack to cool completely.

Bread will last, well wrapped at room temperature, for up to 5 days.