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Conscious Chocolate Zucchini Bread

Conscious Chocolate Zucchini Bread

By: Esther Seha (Read Bio)

Conscious Chocolate Zucchini Bread

Recipe and Photos by Jim Franks. Follow him @blessmelordforihavesneezed

Jim Franks Janie's Mill

I first developed this zucchini bread recipe as a way to use excess produce from Chicago Patchwork Farms - an urban farm that grows nutrient-dense native vegetables in a regenerative cycle and offers them to the community in a “pay-what-you-can” model so that everyone can afford local, ethically sourced produce. I have been providing the community with bread and pastries through the Patchwork Farms farmstand since 2019.

This recipe is based on my pastry accomplice Emily Squadra’s  zucchini brownie recipe and it is heavenly. This zucchini bread is the epitome of local food production with local flour and local produce coming together to make a loaf of goodness best shared in community.

Jim Franks showcasing local produce at Chicago Patchwork Farms.

Jim Franks is a baker based out of Chicago. He loves to use his body to make food for the people he loves. He loves to use local ingredients because it supports the people he loves and supports them in stewarding the land. In his baking, Jim uses local ingredients from producers he knows in person: maple sugar from Wisconsin, grains from Illinois, grass-fed butter from local farms. If he uses ingredients from further away, he makes sure that the products are sourced ethically and responsibly. You can find his baked goods and tons of local produce at Chicago Patchwork Farms, 2825 W Chicago Ave. The farm stand is open on Wednesdays from 4 to 7pm, and on Saturdays from 10am to 3pm, May to November.

Yield: 2 standard loaves (8x5")


  • 150g butter
  • 150g chocolate (see Baker's Note #3 below for chocolate recommendation)
  • 400g maple sugar (see Baker's Note #4 for substitutions)
  • 4 eggs
  • 400g Janie's Mill All Purpose Flour
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 1 tbsp cinnamon
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract or paste
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 700g shredded or pureed zucchini
  • 300g ripe starter (I use a rye starter. If you don't have one, click here for a starter recipe).
  • Equipment

    • 2 loaf pans (8x5")
    • 2 large bowls
    • spatula
    • parchment paper (optional)


    1. Feed starter 12 to 24 hours before baking the zucchini bread. I typically use rye, but any starter will work. Ideally, the starter is ripe for maximum flavor, and so that it can act as an acid in the recipe to react with the baking powder leavener.

    Main Recipe
    1. Melt the chocolate and butter together and allow to cool.
    2. Preheat the oven to 350° Fahrenheit. Line loaf pans with parchment paper and oil or butter, and then flour the pans.
    3. Combine the dry ingredients (flour, salt, spices and baking powder) in a bowl. Then add zucchini to the dry ingredients. (See Baker's Note #2 below.)
    4. Combine eggs, sugar, and vanilla in a medium bowl/measuring cup. Add starter to the wet ingredients. Add melted butter and chocolate mixture.
    5. Add wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix until incorporated.
    6. Fold in chocolate chips, if using, and evenly divide dough between the two loaf pans. Each pan should be filled halfway.
    7. Bake the loaves for 45-60 minutes on the middle rack of the oven. They should rise to just above the top of the pan and seem set, not at all wet or jiggly on top. Take the loaves out of the oven and let them sit for about 10 minutes before turning them out. Cool them on a rack for at least 30 minutes or as long as you can make it without eating a slice.
    8. This zucchini bread will keep at room temperature for a few days but will dry out the longer it is left out. It keeps in the fridge for one to two weeks and indefinitely in the freezer.

    vBaker’s Notes:

    1. Investing in a digital scale is priceless!
    2. Mixing the zucchini in with the dry ingredients helps distribute it across the entire loaf and prevents it from sinking to the bottom of the loaf.
    3. I recommend using ethically sourced bean to bar chocolate from local makers. I like to use Violet Sky Chocolate from South Bend, IN and William Marx Chocolate from Madison, WI.
    4. If you don't have access to maple sugar, use the same amount of regular or brown sugar.
    5. The zucchini used in this recipe originates from Chicago Patchwork Farms where it was grown using the Three Sisters technique. This form of companion planting combines maize (corn), beans and squash which are almost planted on top of each other. The maize and beans are often planted together in mounds formed by hilling soil around the base of the plants. Squash is typically planted between the mounds. The three crops benefit by being grown together. The cornstalk serves as a trellis for the beans to climb up on, the beans fix nitrogen in the soil and their twining vines stabilize the maize in high winds, and the wide leaves of the squash plant shade the ground, keeping the soil moist and preventing the establishment of weeds. The prickly hairs of some squash varieties also deter pests, such as deer and raccoons. Indigenous peoples throughout North America cultivated different varieties of the Three Sisters based on local environmental conditions. While typically using winter squash, Chicago Patchwork Farms combined bicolor sweet corn and beans with summer squash, cucumbers and even watermelons all of which seem to be loving this weather!

    Theme and Variations

    Here are a few points of inspiration and adaptation:
      Flour variations:

      If you want to use different kinds of flour, Janie's Mill Buckwheat Flour or Janie's Mill Dark Rye Flour are wonderful options. They pair well with chocolate and are great substitutes for all purpose flour.

          Flavor variations:

          You can use almost anything waterlogged in the vegetable or fruit world as a replacement for zucchini: applesauce, beets, carrots…dare to get creative! Quick breads are a wonderful way to use leftover purees and vegetables and you can play around with different combinations of nuts and seeds that go well with whatever local produce you find yourself blessed with. I like to make carrot cake and butternut squash bread, but possibilities for flavor combinations are endless.



          Posted on August 30 2022