Napping in My Mother's Kitchen

Growing up one of my favorite activities was baking with my mother. Together we would bake everything ranging from cookies and brownies, to scones and cranberry muffins. We mostly preferred to bake for our own enjoyment, though, on occasion, we were persuaded to bake en masse, once producing over 600 molasses cookies for my babysitter's wedding. Under Mom's expert tutelage I learned all of the important lessons about baking including the difference between baking soda and baking powder, the importance of sifting flour, and how to remove cookies from the oven at just the right time. I adored our hours together mixing batter with the old KitchenAid, watching it rise in the oven - almost magically - to become a moist, delicious treat. In those days learning how to bake at my mother's knee was one of the most fun activities I could imagine, and, frankly, it still is.

Last week I took my daughter to visit my parent's (her doting grandparents) in Cooperstown for a few days. I was excited to get there, I couldn't wait to load up on spring vegetables at my favorite farm stands and clip fragrant purple lilacs from the trees in my parent's garden. But, above all, I couldn't wait to get home and bake in my mother's kitchen. When I arrived she had already prepared a pyrex glass filled with two cups of grated organic zucchini along with two greased loaf pans. From the set-up of equipment on the counter it was obvious she wanted me to make our family's favorite zucchini bread. And, naturally, I got started the minute my daughter went down for her nap.

Since my parent's have lived in their house since I was eight, navigating the kitchen for this baking quest was not a problem. I pulled the mixing bowls off the same shelf where they have been kept for over twenty years, fetched the cinnamon from the spice rack next to Dad's canning supplies and tossed the egg shells in the long-established backyard compost heap. The rhythm of sifting, stirring and pouring on the rainy afternoon in my childhood home was warm and familiar, a feeling of comfort for me that is almost unmatched anywhere else. As with most baked goods, preparing the bread while my daughter napped was a cinch. Mixing the batter was simply a matter of carefully adding the ingredients and making sure they were fully combined before pouring it into the loaf pans. While I followed the recipe I was reminded of one of my mother's favorite calorie-reducing baking techniques and substituted applesauce for some of the vegetable oil. I know that to some this sounds unusual, but please don't fret, having tasted zucchini bread that has been baked with the full amount of oil I can honestly say that the applesauce version is better. It is more flavorful and moist, but is considerably less greasy and doesn't leave any residue on my fingers.

(The view from mom's kitchen)

The bread baked for almost an hour in the oven and, once I removed it, I exercised an amazing amount of willpower, letting it cool completely until the evening. Then, finally, after clearing my family's dishes from the dinner table - a habit held over from my grade school days when it was one of my most dredded chores - I cut pieces from a loaf for dessert. As I watched my daughter enjoy her first slice, eyes wide with delight at the tasty treat, I got excited realizing that the day will soon come when we can bake together. She will bake at my knee, learn the rhythm and language of our own family kitchen, and I will teach her everything I know about baking, too.

Naptime Chef Favorite Zucchini Bread (or Zucchini muffins)

an old favorite recipe from Mom

2 c. all-purpose flour, sifted

1 1/2 t. baking soda

3/4 t. baking powder

1 t. coarse salt

3 1/2 t. cinnamon

3 eggs, room temperature
1/2 c. vegetable oil

1/2 c. plain applesauce (not low-fat)
1 1/2 c. sugar

2 c. freshly grated zucchini

2 t. pure vanilla extract

1. Preheat oven to 350. Grease 2 (two) 9 x 5 inch loaf pans. OR, one 12-cup muffin tin.

2. Sift together flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt and cinnamon into a bowl.

3. In a separate bowl stir together eggs, oil, applesauce, sugar, zucchini and vanilla. Make sure it is fully combined.

4. Carefully pour flour mixture into egg mixture, stirring until completely combined.

5. Pour entire mixture into loaf pans, making sure there is an even amount of batter in each. OR, if making muffins, fill muffin tins 3/4 full.

6. For Zucchini Bread bake for 40 minutes. OR, for muffins bake for 20 minutes.

7. You will know when the bread or muffins are down when the centers are set and spring back when they are lightly touched.

Naptime Notes:
Naptime Recipe Props: This is a simple and delicious zucchini bread recipe that also works well as muffins. The applesauce cuts calories too, making it a more healthy alternative to cookies. It is the most delicious when made with fresh, local zucchini, for which the season begins shortly.
Plus, these loaves freeze beautifully, so you can put one in the freezer for later.
Naptime Stopwatch: The batter preparation takes about 10 minutes and the baking time is about 40-45 minutes. The entire project can be completed during naptime, and there is minimal clean up.
Naptime Reviews: I make this recipe more as bread than muffins, but either are great. Since there are no nuts in them they are great for children, I have never met a child that doesn't love a nice slice of zucchini bread for dessert!


  1. I heart zucchini bread and *can't wait* to make this! :)

  2. Have you done a post on the differences of baking soda and powder? The view from your Mom's Kitchen looks very nice.

  3. Great idea! I have been thinking about a post about important baking tips. Yes, my parent's backyard is great, one of the places in the world I feel most at peace. :)

  4. OMG... Made this bread today.. AWESOME!!

  5. made this recipe this week with some "courgettes" from my friend's english garden. did half muffins (for now) and one loaf (for freezing). absolutely delicious. reminds me of the zucchini bread that i always looked forward to buying each summer at ingall's. thanks kels! xx