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Solving summer surfeits – Courgette cluster bread

August 28, 2011

Courgette Cluster BreadFor all the advantages of growing your own fruit and vegetables, the downside is that everything comes at once.  You long for the first season’s strawberries and then you are overwhelmed, having to pick them daily before the birds get them.  Summer pudding was designed especially to use up a soft fruit glut.  Courgettes (or zucchini if you like) are the same and if you grow your own, there comes a time where you have to scale a small courgette mountain.  I know this from childhood memories rather than having my own garden (as I’ve lived for over 16 years in a desert land) but local courgettes are available cheaply and plentiful all year round here.  I can’t imagine anyone picking this slightly bland and watery vegetable as their ‘top of the crops’ but I’m always on the look out for recipes that might use them in a different way (instead of stuffed, fried or in ratatouille or caponata).

It was up to me to choose a bread recipe for all the Fresh From the Oven food bloggers to cook this month and I thought this would be just right for the UK where I am right now or back in Dubai.

Courgette Cluster Bread making

I’ve been cooking a new bread recipe every month as part of this group for a year and a half and it has made a me a more adventurous and confident baker.  I’ve got to ‘meet’ some lovely people along the way too.  There are so many food blogs and not enough time to read so I tend to gravitate to a handful of favourites; people I feel a connection with.  It’s really odd how strongly this is conveyed online (even in the 140 characters of Twitter).

All the Fresh From the Oven group seem to be a lovely lot – maybe there is something about making your own bread that brings out the best in people.  Breaking bread together is such an honest and unpretentious way of eating with friends.

These cluster rolls are light, fluffy but substantial and best friends with cheese and tomatoes.  The courgette keeps it fresh for a few days – and it got me wondering about other vegetable combinations in bread.  You have carrot cake, so why not wholemeal carrot bread and how about beetroot and rye?  Would it work?  Take a look at what all the other FFTO bakers came up with here.

By the way, I bake a fair amount of bread and KP said that this was the best I had ever made! Praise indeed.

Courgette cluster bread

Courgette Cluster Bread – adapted from a recipe in House and Garden magazine by Roz Denny

Makes 8 rolls or clusters


450g courgettes, grated coarsely
Salt (for degorging and for the dough)
675g strong white bread flour
2 sachets of easy-blend/fast-action yeast or 14g instant dried yeast
3 tablespoons parmesan, grated
Freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
Tepid water  – about 200ml
Milk, to glaze
Sesame seeds, to sprinkle

Courgetter cluster roll


Place the courgettes in a colander, sprinkle lightly with salt.  Allow the juices to drain for about half-an-hour, then rinse well in cold water and pat dry.

If using instant yeast whisk it into 90 ml of the water until frothy and dissolved.  Mix the flour, yeast, parmesan, 1/2 teaspoon of salt and some black pepper together in a bowl, then stir in the olive oil and courgettes.  Add some more water until the mixture comes together as a firm, soft dough.  I did this and the kneading in my KitchenAid with the dough hook.

If kneading by hand, turn the dough onto a lightly floured board or work surface and knead until smooth and elastic.  Lightly oil a bowl and put the dough into rise, covered with cling film or a cloth, for about one hour or until doubled in size.

Knock back the dough in the bowl (punch the air out of it) and then turn out onto a lightly floured work surface.  Knead again briefly until smooth.

Divide the dough into eight equal pieces and roll to shape into even balls.  Lightly grease and line the base of a 23 cm cake tin with baking parchment. Place one ball of dough in the middle and all the others around it.

Brush the tops of rolls with milk and sprinkle over some sesame seeds.  Cover again with oiled cling film or a cloth and leave to prove until doubled in size and the balls touch each other – about 30 minutes.

Put into a preheated oven at 200 C for about 25 minutes until golden brown and cooked.  Cool on a wire rack. Tear each roll off to eat as a bun.

Courgette Cluster bread

Sorry about my daughter's choice of nail polish

  1. August 28, 2011 9:18 pm

    I want some!

  2. August 28, 2011 9:21 pm

    Love the neon nails. Also love knowing what I can do with all of my courgette…have made so much breakfast bread (courgette with carrots and sultanas or with chocolate chips for tea loaf) and looking for a savoury. Thanks!

  3. August 28, 2011 9:23 pm

    It looks great! 🙂
    Especially good with cheese, indeed 🙂
    I love the photos!

  4. August 28, 2011 9:51 pm

    Lovely bread and photos Sally. Thanks for an excellent challenge, it is a recipe that I shall be making again very soon.

  5. August 28, 2011 9:51 pm

    Lovely bread and photos Sally. Thanks for an excellent challenge, it is a recipe that I shall be making again very soon.

  6. August 28, 2011 10:14 pm

    Great challenge Sally. This is exactly the sort of thing I need to be challenged to do and I loved both the breads I made this month. Your photographs of this bread are stunning.

  7. August 28, 2011 11:57 pm

    Beautiful rolls, Sally! I love courgettes (zucchini to us! :)), and I think they’d actually come close to one of my favourite veg. I make a zucchini slice which my boys love, and we’ll happily stir-fry, stuff or sometimes just finely shred them into a salad.

    Having said that, we can’t seem to grow them! I have no idea why not, they just don’t want to grow here – last year we tried planting them twice and didn’t get a single one!

  8. August 29, 2011 2:28 am

    A great choice, Sally. Thanks! I think bread with vegetables is worth exploring more.

  9. August 29, 2011 9:51 am

    I like cluster bread and courgettes and the combination sounds divine.

  10. August 29, 2011 11:29 am

    Yum and gulp! This looks amazing! I need to bake this because I haven’t made cluster bread before. I also love zucchini, parmesan which is a good combination!

  11. August 29, 2011 11:57 am

    love the nail polish – and the bread – I am salivating at the thought of a bite 🙂

  12. August 29, 2011 1:16 pm

    It is lovely! I love the presentation and photos! I see you use the white courgettes, oh, my favourites ones!

  13. August 29, 2011 2:26 pm

    What a beautiful cluster! Brilliant recipe Sally, zucchinis/ courgettes are so versatile!
    Have a happy week.
    🙂 Mandy

  14. August 29, 2011 5:45 pm

    Thanks for a great challenge Sally! I still really need to try this recipe. It sounds delicious and your photos look amazing!

  15. August 29, 2011 6:10 pm

    Looks like we both have a lot of courgettes to deal with! I’ve just done about 4 posts in the past month with courgettes including today’s – but not bread. Yours looks scrummy, and so nicely photographed too. Must include on it on growing ‘to make soon’ list. Thanks (ps, we are just now following each other on Twitter – glad to have found you).

  16. August 30, 2011 7:58 pm

    Thank you for hosting this months challenge. Beautiful photographs too.

  17. August 30, 2011 10:02 pm

    Love the nail polish but must confess that what its tugging at has me super-intrigued! The bread rolls look stunning and soft. So can’t wait for my new kitchen – I’ve already decided that I have to get serious with bread if I want to eat any as I haven’t found local alternatives that currently catch my fancy

  18. August 31, 2011 11:18 am

    Sally, this was a wonderful challenge! We have a rule – first shoot, then eat, but this time the bread was so good that I couldn’t restrain myself and deliciously broke the rule 🙂

  19. August 31, 2011 7:35 pm

    I haven’t grown any vegetables this year – I managed to coax a shocking total of two courgettes into life last year. But this makes me want to try again. It looks perfect.

  20. September 1, 2011 4:45 pm

    Thank you for the wonderful challenge I really enjoyed it.

  21. September 5, 2011 12:53 am

    I’m not an experienced bread maker, but these kinds of cluster rolls are tempting me to get back into it. Your photos are fantastic.

  22. September 6, 2011 10:51 am

    What a unique and delicious way to use zucchini!

  23. September 6, 2011 12:14 pm

    Delicious, have been growing courgettes – will give this recipe a try!

  24. September 6, 2011 2:19 pm

    I love the bread and was smiling at the nail polish; reminds me of my daughter too, now she has developed designs on her nails…amazing what teenagers will come up with.

  25. September 7, 2011 2:46 am

    And here I was thinking of making plain old zucchini bread! I love yours so much better! Perfect, perfect rolls and love the zucchini!

  26. September 7, 2011 11:42 am

    Fantastic! I just wish I could eat some. Maybe I come up with a gluten free version. Thanks Sally.

  27. September 9, 2011 1:47 pm

    What gorgeous bread!!! It looks like something from an artisan bakery. Yum!

    • September 9, 2011 2:11 pm

      Thank you Jennifer – what a lovely compliment.

  28. September 11, 2011 2:50 am

    What gorgeous buns! They actually look pillowy. This is my first visit to your blog but having read this and some of your earlier posts I can tell you that I will be back. You have created a wonderful spot for your readers to visit and I enjoyed the time I spent here. I hope you have a great day. Blessings…Maryi

    • September 11, 2011 7:05 am

      I really appreciate comments especially one as nice as this Mary. Just popping over to your site for a return visit too.

  29. September 12, 2011 4:22 am

    That bread looks like it will melt in my mouth like cotton candy! Putting on my to do list!!

    • September 12, 2011 7:05 am

      It is quite fluffy Carroll which is why it went down so well with my family.

  30. September 20, 2011 12:49 am

    I thought I’d already commented on this! It must have been in a blog dream :o) This looks so good, lovely and moist. If I had lots of courgettes I’d try it but my harvest is a bit feeble this year. I love the green flecks in the dough, so pretty.

    • September 20, 2011 12:43 pm

      Ah yes I have that habit of dreaming about blogs too! The green flecks were the thing I liked about this recipe too.


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