The hardest part is letting it cool.

By Bridget Hallinan
June 30, 2020
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In our video series, “The Best Way,” we’ve tackled everything from making perfectly tender and creamy scrambled eggs to cooking steak like a pro. This latest episode is all about quick bread—zucchini quick bread, to be exact—and our associate food editor Kelsey Youngman is here to help you pull it off. 

She prepares a zucchini breakfast bread recipe from Paige Grandjean (recipe tester and developer at Meredith Food Studios), made with toasted pecans, old-fashioned regular rolled oats, orange zest, and, of course, plenty of grated zucchini. It’s pretty simple and comes together in a few easy steps—check out some of the helpful tips she shares below.

Read the whole recipe first (seriously)

Always make sure you read the whole recipe through before you cook, and pay attention to the details. For example, are the pecans chopped and then measured or measured and then chopped in this particular recipe? As Kelsey points out, the recipe reads “3/4 cup toasted pecans, roughly chopped”—in that order, that means measuring the nuts first and then chopping them up.

Grease that pan—and don't forget the sugar

Coating the loaf pan with softened butter helps the bread release more easily, and it will also help create the turbinado sugar crust on the outside. When you add the sugar to the pan, it will stick to the butter—shake it around and tap out any excess.

Use a whisk, not a spoon

A whisk is your best bet for mixing ingredients here, since it will really help everything get worked together.

Baking powder versus baking soda

This recipe calls for both baking soda and baking powder in the batter, and Kelsey notes it’s important to know the distinction. Baking soda is just bicarbonate of soda, while baking powder is two-in-one (baking soda and acid), meaning you don’t need another acidic ingredient in the recipe. As she adds them to the bowl with the other dry ingredients, she says the trick with commercial chemical leaveners is to use enough so that you get a rise and nice browning, but not too much, which can cause a little bit of a metallic taste.

Don't over-mix

When you’re adding the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients, don’t over-mix the batter. Instead, whisk it until it’s just incorporated, and then stir in the pecans until they’re evenly distributed. 

Resist the urge to keep opening the oven ...

If you open your oven door frequently, you’ll let out heat, and cause things to fall and collapse when they’re trying to rise, Kelsey explains. 

... but make sure you test the bread to see if it's done

Quick breads have a tendency to look done on the outside and still be soggy in the middle. You can check by sliding in a skewer, cake tester, or paring knife and then pulling it out—if it comes out clean or with a few moist crumbs, it’s ready.

Let it cool

After the quick bread is ready to come out of the oven, let it cool for 15 minutes before inverting it onto a cooling rack. You might be tempted to dig in right away—the hardest part of making quick bread, Kelsey says, is letting it cool—but you should let it cool outside the pan for at least another hour on the rack. Then, you can enjoy it as-is or slather a slice with some salted butter.

Get the Recipe: Zucchini Breakfast Bread