Saturday, May 05, 2007

Loafing Around


A few months ago Cook's Illustrated magazine picked the Williams-Sonoma Goldtouch nonstick loaf pan as their top loaf pan. I wondered if it was better than my current nonstick loaf pan from Chicago Metallic. So I walked over to the nearby Williams-Sonoma store and purchased a pan. At $19, it was definitely pricier than any other loaf pan I had ever owned, but it was not an outrageous price for a baking pan. (Ahem, I'm talking about you All-Clad. I own your cookware but $85 for a loaf pan is just crazy!)

I decided to start with baking a loaf of zucchini bread. I actually really like zucchini bread and I make it all year round. It's not just something I make when my garden has too many zucchini in the summer. (Although I haven't grown zucchini in my garden for 4 years now because I got tired of fighting the battle against powdery mildew. Doesn't help that we live in the fog belt of San Francisco.)

For my zucchini bread, I adapted a recipe from The Baker's Dozen Cookbook. Since the nonstick surface on the Goldtouch pan is lighter than most nonstick finishes, the crust was a perfect shade of golden brown. The crust had a nice chew without any toughness. It was a perfect contrast to the moist, flavorful center of zucchini, walnuts and cinnamon. Now, I don't know if the pan made any difference in this case but I must say it was the most delicious zucchini loaf I've made in quite some time. Sometimes I don't know if it's the equipment, the recipe, or the baker.

WS Goldtouch Nonstick Loaf Pan (L) Chicago Metallic Nonstick Loaf Pan (R)

To really see if the Goldtouch pan would produce a better loaf than my tried and true Chicago Metallic nonstick loaf pan, I did a side by side comparison by baking 2 loaves of banana bread. My unscientific conclusion is the Goldtouch pan doesn't make a difference. The 2 banana breads looked and tasted exactly the same.


Banana Bread
(Makes two 8.5 x 4.5 inch loaves)

2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar
8 ounces (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened at room tmp.
4 large eggs
2 1/2 cups mashed overripe bananas
(This could require 4-6 bananas depending on the size of your bananas)
1 cup coarsely chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 350F. Lightly butter two 8.5 by 4.5 inch loaf pans (sometimes referred to as an 1-pound loaf pan).

Sift together flour, baking soda, and salt. Set aside dry ingredients.

Beat butter and both sugars until well combined (using a spoon or a mixer). Add eggs, one at time, beating well after each addition. Mix in the mashed bananas until well combined. Mix in walnuts.

Add dry ingredients and mix until flour is just incorporated. Some lumps are okay. It's better to undermix than overmix.

Divide batter evenly into the 2 prepared loaf pans.

Bake at 350F until cake tester comes out clean, about 1 hour.

Cool in pans for about 20 minutes before removing loaves from pans to cool completely on a rack.



Zucchini Bread
(Makes one 8.5 x 4.5 inch loaf)

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
3/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp ground cloves
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 cup light brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup (6 ounces by weight) grated zucchini
1/2 cup coarsely chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 350F. Lightly butter an 8.5 by 4.5 inch loaf pan (sometimes referred to as a 1-pound loaf pan).

Sift together flour, cinnamon, cloves, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Set aside dry ingredients.

In large bowl, whisk together oil, sugar, and vanilla. Stir in zucchini and walnuts. Add dry ingredients and mix until flour is just incorporated. Some lumps are okay. It's better to undermix than overmix.

Bake at 350F until cake tester comes out clean, about 50 minutes.

Cool in pan for about 20 minutes before removing loaf from pan to cool completely on a rack.



Ms Adventures in Italy said...

Thanks for the review of the pans (and the recipes!!)

After I found a SLICE of banana bread for 3euro at a "California" bakery here in Milan, I had my mom send me her 40-yr old loaf pan but a non-stick one sounds worth checking out.

Peabody said...

I wonder if it makes a difference for yeast breads. That is where I really find I notice the difference in my pans.

MyKitchenInHalfCups said...

Both the banana and the zucchini loaves look wonderful!
I do like the Goldtouch pans but maybe I'll try a side by side comparison! A fun idea.

Mary said...

Ms Adventures - I must say that I'm guilty of buying a slice for $3US every once in a while.

Peabody - I think you may be right. I'll have to try a comparison using yeast breads soon.

Tanna - I actually really like the Goldtouch pan. It's just that I thought it would be exponentially better than the Chicago Metallic one.

Ilva said...

Thanks for the post, I really enjoy comparative cooking if one can call it like that and I also enjoy your recipes, they both sounds great!

Garrett said...

Mmm, zucchini bread... I made that with some leftover zucchini after I made zucchini cupcakes. Soooo yummy!

Brilynn said...

I think I need a new loaf pan. Actually, I KNOW I need a new loaf pan, mine is black and quite often refuses to release the goodies it holds.

Kelly-Jane said...

Hi I trying to get round all the DBs!

Your loaves look lovely, and those tins, maybe I need new ones!

Chris said...

These loaves look yummy!

I don't have a Goldtouch pan - something that looks similar I bought at a restaurant supply store. I will have to run into W-S.

Anna said...

Hi! I’m Anna from Italy. I recently have discovered your blog and I find it very nice: your recipes are really interested, so I want to try some of them especially “zucchini bread” and “iced meyer lemon cupcakes” (about this: Happy Anniversaries!).
But I need your help : I’d like to know how many grams are 1 cup of cake flour, 1 cup of all purpose flour, 1.5 cups of butter, 1 cup of granulated sugar, 1 cup of buttermilk, 1 cup of powdered sugar, 1 cup of vegetables oil.
Thanks a lot. I’m waiting for earing from you. Have a nice day. Anna

gilly said...

Hi Mary - thanks for your observation on the pans - good to know!

When you used to grow zucchini, did you have an abundance of it? I find in our area, it's almost TOO plentiful - and as much as I love zucchini, it can be a chore to get it all used up before it spoils in our humidity!

Both of your breads sound just lovely! I too just adore the 'crust'!

Mary said...

Ilva - I used to do a lot of "comparative experiments" when I was a scientist but now my kitchen is my laboratory.

Garrett - I agree, zucchini rocks.

Brilynn - Either the Goldtouch or the Chicago Metallic would be great new pans for you.

Kelly-Jane - Thanks for coming by! I'm trying to keep up w/ the DBs too.

Chris - I'm sure the pan you got at the restaurant supply was just as good and less costly than the Goldtouch. WS is so expensive but I just can't help myself sometimes!

Anna - Clotilde of C&Z has a good conversion table here:

Gilly - We get tons of fog in the summertime and not too much sun, so I only get a modest amount of zucchini. And I like to harvest them young for cooking and salads but older for baking. I'm a total crust girl too! I always eat the muffin tops first and leave the stump.

Cheryl said...

I too love the comparison baking. I was scrolling down through you post, wondering will this new pan make a difference.

Your banana bread is just lovely.

the wine makers wife said...

Your Zucchino bread looks fantastic. Yet again, another recipe I need to copy cat you on. WOW, it just looks so scrumptious!

Anna said...

Thank for your information. I've seen the site: that is what I was looking for.
I'm going to try your recipes, muffins and zucchine bread.

Sara said...

Both recipes look so delicious, I'm adding them to my recipe pile.

Lis said...

Mmm my 2 most favorite sweet breads EVER! I love the lil green bits in the zucchini bread =)

I guess the good news is.. even though the more expensive loaf pan made no difference - you can never have too many baking pans! :D


Elle said...

Mary, those are great recipes for sweet quick breads. If my garden does as well as it should, i'd be happy to supply you, for free, with lots of zucchini for cooking. I'm just an hour north of S.F. & could drive your way or make you tea here. They'll be producing like mad in another month.

Paula said...

I live in the town that All Clad is manufactured in, so I am a big fan of the products. That said, the old adage, " You get what you pay for" is true here.........although a bit pricey, it is an investment, as you need only to buy the product once.

Rebecca said...

Hi Mary! I made your recipe for zucchini bread last night. My kitchen smelled wonderful, and the bread tasted even better, but I had one problem: it did not rise very much in the pan. I assume it's because I used a dark-colored Costco off-brand pan (rather than All Clad, which I cannot afford at this stage in my life, though I've shelled out big bucks for a Le Creuset Dutch oven...priorities, priorities). Might there have been another reason? The zucchini was grated and frozen from last summer's garden. Could that have been it?

Mary said...

Paula - I, too, am a huge fan of All-Clad. I absolutely love my 15 pots/pans, roasting pan, tea kettle and my AC utensils too. I agree that All-Clad is wonderful, very well made cookware. However, even though I was willing to spend $200 on a stock pot, I just couldn't get myself to pay $85 for an All-Clad loaf pan. But if someone wants to gift one to me, I will gladly accept and bake bread like there's no tomorrow!

Rebecca - From my photos you can see that mine also doesn't rise too much. I don't think your Costco pan or the frozen zucchini had anything to do with the zucchini bread not rising. This recipe is definitely less cakey (and therefore less "lofty") than other zucchini bread recipes I've tried, but I love how this bread is dense and moist without being heavy.

Paula said... should live here if you are an All Clad fan........the factory has a 40-70% sale twice a year.......hundreds of people stand in line, but it is worth it. I own almost everything they make. Unfortunately, All Clad has discontinued manufacturing the Goldware line of bakeware. Feel lucky if you already own any!

Rebecca said...

Thanks, Mary. I really like the flavor and consistency of the zucchini bread, too. In fact, the batter itself was so tasty I had to have a couple spoonfuls before it went into the pan! Quality control, you know.

Anonymous said...

I just want to say thanks for the zucchini bread recipe, my whole family loved it. It was gone in 20 minutes. I just made it in a regular glass loaf pan, but will try in in a Goldtouch pan next time.

Great use for those extra zucchinis grown in my garden.

Thank you so much.

Lily said...

Thanks for the recipe. I will give it a try tomorrow!