It’s the dog days of summer. You have zucchini, I have answers. Baking with zucchini can be tricky, because it is just.so.wet. And what’s more, shredded zucchini actually gets more wet as it sits, since it releases its moisture. Put a pin in that, and let’s talk about how the very worst thing you can do to any yeast bread, gluten free or not, is make it too dry. Period. End of sentence. If it’s too dry, it won’t rise. That’s why, in my new bread recipes, we use the scrape and fold kneading method to shape the yeast breads from Gluten-Free on a Shoestring Bakes Bread (and the new gluten free bread recipes that have followed from it) without incorporating too much flour into the dough and mistakenly drying it out. See where I’m going with all of this?
Shredded zucchini is perfect for making soft gluten free sandwich bread! I give you Gluten Free Zucchini Yeast Bread. Since I’m simply desperate to make good use of the daily zucchini that the monster zucchini plants in my husband’s backyard garden, this all just makes good sense to me. And not only does the zucchini add moisture, it adds a certain depth of flavor without actually making the bread taste, well, like zucchini. It’s the wonder vegetable!
Even though this recipe is adapted from Ricotta Bread, one of my favorite sandwich bread recipes from GFOAS Bakes Breadpage 70, I still had to make it 4 times before I was fully satisfied with it. I cut back pretty dramatically on the water, and I can’t stress enough that you should consider measuring your water by weight, instead of by volume (see Bread FAQ #21for instructions). The right moisture balance makes alllll the difference.
Here’s the best news, though: even if you overmeasure the water, the dough may be really tough to handle (like, really hard), but if you don’t care how it’s shaped, it will still bake up just fine. My early attempts at this recipe weren’t quite as pretty, but they still tasted just fine. :)
7 ounces shredded fresh zucchini (from about 1 medium zucchini)
6 ounces/6 fluid ounces warm water (about 95°F)
4 tablespoons (56 g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
*BREAD FLOUR NOTES
1 cup (140 g) Gluten Free Bread Flour, as discussed more fully on pages 8 to 10 of GFOAS Bakes Bread, contains 100 grams Mock Better Batter all purpose gluten free flour (or Better Batter itself) + 25 grams whey protein isolate (I use NOW Foods brand) + 15 grams Expandex modified tapioca starch.
For a calculator that helps you build the flour using my Mock Better Batter, but without doing any math, please see my Gluten Free Flour page.
In the bowl of your stand mixer, place the flour, yeast and sugar, and use a handheld whisk to combine well. Add the salt and whisk to combine well. Add the shredded zucchini, and mix to coat the zucchini in the dry ingredients. Add the water and butter, and mix on low speed with the dough hook until combined. Raise the mixer speed to medium and knead for about 5 minutes. The dough should be relatively smooth, but the zucchini will make it stickier. Spray a silicone spatula lightly with cooking oil spray, and scrape down the sides of the bowl. Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled bowl or proofing bucket large enough for the dough to rise to double its size, spray the top of the dough with cooking oil spray, and cover with an oiled piece of plastic wrap (or the oiled top to your proofing bucket). Place the dough in the refrigerator for at least 12 hours and up to 3 days.**
**Note: If you prefer, you may make and use this dough on the same day. It will not be as easy to handle, and will not rise as smoothly, however. To use the dough the same day it is made, after making the dough, set the covered dough to rise in a warm, draft-free environment to allow it to rise to double its size (about 1 hour). Once it has doubled, place it in the refrigerator for at least 15 minutes or until it is chilled. This will make it much easier to handle. Then, continue with the rest of the recipe instructions.
Preparing the dough for shaping. On baking day, grease a standard loaf pan (approximately 9-inches x 5-inches—mine are 8 1/2-inches x 4 1/2-inches) and set it aside. Turn out the chilled dough onto a lightly floured surface and, using the scrape and fold kneading method and using a very light touch, sprinkle the dough with more flour and knead it lightly, sprinkling with flour when necessary to prevent it from sticking, scrape the dough off the floured surface with a floured bench scraper, then fold it over on itself. Repeat scraping and folding until the dough has become smoother. Do not overwork the dough or you will incorporate too much flour and it will not rise properly. This dough is a bit difficult to handle, as the zucchini continue to release its moisture during the first rise.
Shaping the dough. Turn the dough out onto a well-floured surface, and pat the dough into a rectangle about 7 inches long x 5-inches wide. Fold both 7-inch sides of the dough about 2 inches in toward the center, and then roll up the dough from one 5-inch side toward the other until the dough is completed coiled. Roll the dough gently back and forth on the lightly floured surface, to seal the edges. Tuck the short ends slightly under the loaf, if necessary to fit the loaf in the loaf pan. Lift the shaped loaf carefully into the loaf pan, seam side down. Cover the loaf pan with an oiled piece of plastic wrap, and place in a warm, draft-free location until the dough has risen to nearly 1-inch above the lip of the pan (about 1 1/2 hours, but rising time can vary greatly depending upon your kitchen environment).
About 20 minutes before your dough has finished its final rise, preheat your oven to 350°F. Once the dough has finished rising, remove the plastic wrap and place the pan in the center of the preheated oven. Bake for about 45 minutes, or until the bread reaches an internal temperature of 185°F on an instant-read thermometer. Allow to cool for about 10 minutes in the pan before turning it out onto a wire rack to finish cooling until no longer hot to the touch. Serve immediately.