zuc·chi·ni [zoo-kee-nee]  –noun, plural -ni, -nis.
1. a variety of summer squash that is shaped like a cucumber and that has a smooth, dark-green skin.
2. the plant bearing this fruit.
Also called, especially British, courgette.

Zucchini. Courgette. What fancy names for this least fancy member of your backyard garden!

Zucchini is easy to grow. And even easier to grow REALLY BIG.

How many times have you wandered through the garden, on a beautiful dewy summer morning, and practically tripped over a giant baseball bat of a zucchini? I mean, how DO they grow so big, so fast?

Certainly not loving care; they seem to grow easily, anywhere, for anyone.

And it's not Miracle-Gro. In fact, I'm betting a lot of gardeners wish they could purchase Miracle-ANTI-Gro, to keep those zucchini from becoming The Squash That Ate Manhattan.

If you pick them when they're young – say, 8” or so – they're very nice sliced, sautéed, and finished with a splash of soy sauce and a pinch of ginger.

A bit bigger, you can chunk them up and turn them into zucchini caponata.

Bigger still... well, now you start getting into grating and chopping territory.

As in a recipe that calls for “2 cups grated or finely chopped zucchini.”

As in this recipe: The Shipyard Galley's Zucchini Muffins.

Preheat the oven to 375°F. Line muffin tin(s) with papers, or grease each cup. Since this recipe makes 18 muffins, you'll use two tins; or simply bake as many as you want, and refrigerate the remaining batter, to use up to 4 days later.

Place the following in a bowl:

2 cups (397g) granulated sugar
1 cup (198g) vegetable oil
4 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Beat until smooth.

Add the following:

1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Beat until smooth again.

Add 3 cups (361g) King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour, beating gently until thoroughly combined.

Add 2 cups (242 to 300g) grated zucchini, 1 cup (113g) chopped walnuts, and 1/2 to 1 cup (57g to 113g) raisins or currants.

Beat gently, just to combine.

Scoop the batter into the prepared muffin cups; a muffin scoop does a good job here.

Fill the muffin cups about 3/4 full.

Next, I sprinkled half the muffins with coarse white sparkling sugar, a step I take with just about every muffin or scone I bake. The sugar adds nice crunch and a pretty, sparkly appearance.

However, in this case – bad move! You'll see why later.

Bake the muffins for 25 minutes.

A cake tester inserted into one of the center muffins should come out clean.

Yeah, look at those muffins on the right, the ones I sprinkled with sugar. Cool - they're rising GREAT!

So pretty - sparkling sugar triumphs again!

Or not. As soon as I took the sugared muffins out of the pan, their tops just completely collapsed.

Somehow, the sugar had melted, then flaked off when I moved them, revealing “bald” muffin tops underneath. Not a pretty sight. Really, what's up with that?

I don't know, but in this case, skip the sugar topping – basic is beautiful!

Read, bake, and review (please) our recipe for The Shipyard Galley's Zucchini Muffins.

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About PJ Hamel

PJ Hamel grew up in New England, graduated from Brown University, and was an award-winning Maine journalist (favorite topics: sports and food) before joining King Arthur Flour in 1990. Hired to write the newly launched Baker’s Catalogue, PJ became the small but growing company’s sixth employee.    ...
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