That title probably needs an explanation, doesn't it? I can't possibly do the line justice, so I'll just refer you to this Eddie Izzard clip (or rather, the Lego version thereof). If you're not an Eddie Izzard fan or can't watch the video, just trust me that no one died, or was even mildly injured, in the making of this cake. Or bread--we refer to it as bread, and in fact it is a quickbread, but it's really more like cake, isn't it?
Perhaps we need a bit more context. The other evening when I was winding down the day with a cup of chamomile tea and a slice (okay, two) of this cake, I said to myself, "tea and cake." (What, you don't talk to yourself about what you're fixing in the kitchen?) Having watched that Izzard clip umpteen times, my brain's natural follow-on was "or death." And a post title was born.
Anyway... Out here in this most mild-weathered part of the country, we get zucchini absurdly late in the year. We'll have summer squash and winter squash sitting side by side on the tables at the farmer's market. My enjoyment of zucchini has really been coming into its own this year, but by the time it got to October and November, I was starting to exhaust my growing, but still limited repertoire of zucchini recipes.
There was one obvious addition to said repertoire that I had always dismissed because of my skepticism about the results. Zucchini bread is the classic way for inundated gardeners to use up their zucchini (or courgettes, as they're known to some readers), but I have to admit that I've always wrinkled my nose a bit at the prospect--due in part, no doubt, to the remains of the not-so-warm feelings I had for the vegetable in years past. Zucchini bread? Wouldn't it taste like zucchini? Or to be more precise, like everything I disliked about zucchini?
Well, I'm here to tell you that zucchini bread doesn't taste anything like what I disliked about zucchini. Or at least, my zucchini bread doesn't, and that's because I did what's obvious when you're looking to hide a potentially unpleasant-tasting ingredient in a cake: I made a spice cake.
If you ask me, there's no better way to ensure that a baked good will taste delicious than adding cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg. To err even more on the side of safety, and because by the time I was making this cake we were well on our way toward the season of holiday baking, I added dried fruit, nuts, and some crystallized ginger. There was really no way that this cake could go wrong.
Sure enough, there is no hint of zucchini flavor; in fact, the only indication that there's any sort of vegetable in the cake is the tiny green bits you might see peeking out the top. The rest is nothing but tender, aromatic cake, studded with cranberries and walnuts and the occasional piece of candied ginger. What with all that decoration inside, this cake feels festive; and in fact, it's perfect for the holiday gift baking that I'm sure many of you will be undertaking soon (or have already started). But I, for one, won't blame you if you want to keep it all for yourself.
Saturday, December 5, 2009