I get frustrated when things don't work out on my first attempt. When I'm experimenting or learning something new, I expect to skip the whole "learning" phase and jump right to the "I'm an expert" phase. Obviously, it doesn't work out that way and I'm usually left swallowing my fair share of humble pie.
That humble pie has most recently come in the form of not-so-successful baked goods. I've been baking more and more over the last year, and I'm starting to branch out with creating my own recipes. Rather than simply changing up a recipe's spices or dried fruits, I've started tweaking the flours, liquids and overall composition of a recipe
Right now, I have version one of this zucchini bread in my fridge. It needs to be thrown in the trash, but I absolutely hate throwing away food. Not only do I want to avoid wastefulness, but I also feel like if I throw it away, it's admitting failure. It requires me to concede that the time and resources spent left me with nothing to show for it. I probably sound ridiculous having a personal crisis over a failed loaf of bread, but it's brought my impatience, perfectionism and pride to the surface.
Don't worry - the recipe below has been drastically updated from the inedible version. In researching how to correct this recipe, I've learned more about how certain ingredients work in baking than I ever set out to know, including this trick for baking with whole wheat flour and how acids neutralize the metallic flavor of baking soda.
I'm learning to be OK with learning, which is a humbling process that involves mistakes, changes and even "failures." That failed loaf probably taught me more than ten successful loaves would have.
Through all the errors, I finally ended up with exactly what I was going for - a hearty, flavorful, breakfast-appropriate bread. Most zucchini breads I've tasted fall more on the dessert end of the spectrum - delicious, but not something I should make a regular part of my breakfast rotation. This version is lightly sweetened with honey and uses whole wheat flour. (If you're not a fan of the whole wheat texture, you can sub in some white flour.) As the title says, it's a loaded bread, chock-full of oats, dried fruit, nuts and of course, zucchini, so you can feel better about eating it first thing in the morning (while slathering it with butter).
“If you only do what you know and do it very, very well, chances are that you won’t fail. You’ll just stagnate, and your work will get less and less interesting, and that’s failure by erosion.”
–Twyla Tharp, The Creative Habit
Have you had any cooking or baking failures? Did you learn anything in the process? I'd love to hear your story in the comments!
Loaded Whole Wheat + Oat Zucchini Bread (or muffins)
Yields 1 loaf or 12 regular-sized muffins
1 ¼ cups whole wheat flour
½ cup rolled oats
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ground cloves
½ cup buttermilk
2 eggs, slightly beaten
½ cup melted butter, cooled
½ cup honey
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup shredded zucchini
½ cup chopped walnuts
½ cup dried, chopped apricots
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour a 9x5 loaf pan (or a muffin tin) and set aside.
In a large bowl, mix the flour, oats, baking powder, salt, baking soda, cinnamon and cloves. In a separate bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, eggs, butter, honey and vanilla.*
Add the wet ingredient mixture to the flour mixture. Stir just until incorporated, being careful not to overmix.
In another bowl, toss together the zucchini, walnuts and apricots. Gently fold this mixture into the rest of the batter. Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan (or muffin tin) and let it rest for about ten minutes. Do not skip this step! (Click here to learn why.)
Bake for about 45 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Bake muffins for about 12 minutes. Allow to cool in the pan for about 10 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely.
*Quick Tip: Measure out the honey in the same dish that contained the melted butter. Then when you add the honey to the batter, it’ll slide right out of the butter-coated dish.