Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Golden Zucchini Tea Loaves aka "Shh! Don't Tell Them It's Squash Bread"

One of the things I treasure most is my box of collected family recipes. I love looking through the recipe cards and letters shared by my family and friends, especially the ones written in their own handwriting. Whenever I read them, memories come spilling out about the person and the fun times we had together. I was lucky enough to have inherited a lovely collection of recipes from my mother's elderly Aunt Alta when she passed away. Each time I cook one of her recipes, I get to bring her back for a moment. She was a great woman and a wonderful cook.

This recipe is from one of the newspaper clippings from Aunt Alta's collection. She used to live in Illinois, so many of her clippings came from The Chicago Tribune. This wonderful tea cake recipe, originally from a 1978 issue, doctors up a boxed cake mix with some instant pudding mix and yellow crookneck squash or "golden zucchini." The squash completely disappears into the cake once baked, and most people who taste this will not have any clue there is squash in the loaf unless you tell them. It is a wonderful and unique twist on the typical zucchini bread. This recipe works equally well with a mixture of zucchini and yellow squash, although you will notice green flecks in the finished loaves.

Golden Zucchini Tea Loaves (aka Shh! Don't Tell Them It's Squash Bread), adapted from The Chicago Tribune

makes 2 loaves

1 (2 layer size) box yellow cake mix or butter cake mix
1 (4 serving size) small box instant vanilla pudding mix
4 large eggs
1/4 cup canola oil
3 cups grated yellow crookneck squash (or a mix of green zucchini & yellow squash)
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
1-1 1/2 cups chopped walnuts, divided (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 F. Grease and flour two loaf pans. Combine all ingredients except for the nuts in a large mixing bowl. Using an electric mixer, beat for 4 minutes exactly. If you like nuts, stir in just 1/2 cup of the nuts, reserving the remaining nuts for later.

Divide the batter into the two pans evenly. Sprinkle each pan with 1/2 cup of nuts, completely covering the surface of the batter. Since my daughter doesn't always like nuts in baked goods, I usually only add nuts to the top of one of the loaves and leave the second plain.

Bake for 50-55 minutes, or until a toothpick tests clean and the edges begin to pull away from the sides. Cool in pans on wire racks for 10 minutes, then remove from pans and allow to cool completely. I chill the loaves before slicing, letting them come to room temperature again before eating.

NOTE: Did you know that cake mix package sizes have recently changed? Old cake mix boxes used to be 18.25 ounces, now they come in a slightly smaller size, 15.5-16.5 ounces. I tested this recipe using both sizes, and it comes out slightly less poofy with the newer cake mixes, but still works out very well without any adjustments.

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