Maple Cream Carrot Bread [v.]

carrot-cake

Despite my confidence that restocking my college pantry would inspire me to bake, assignments and exams swept me up and the only things I managed to make last semester were muffins and a terrible batch of spicy oatmeal cookies. The muffins were acceptable, but not post-worthy, and I don’t want to talk about the cookies. Let’s just say, don’t add spicy granola to oatmeal cookies…or at least do a better job of meshing the flavors than I did.

I’m finally back home for winter vacation, and besides practicing the art of doing nothing (also, I should really start training for the 15k I have in a couple of weeks), I’m finally with a kitchen of my own. The first thing I did when I got home was make this carrot bread. It’s a hearty and lightly sweet bread that is filled with the most delicious cashew cream filling and studded with caramelized walnuts. It’s loaded with fiber and free of refined sugar or flour, so try it out if you’re looking for a quick and filling breakfast or snack.

Cream Filled Carrot Bread

To make maple cream filling:

In a high powered blender combine:

  • 1/2 cup cashews
  • 3/4 cup non-dairy milk
  • 2 tbs maple syrup
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 1/8 tsp xanthan gum

Blend until smooth and set aside. (On a side note, I bet 1/8 tsp almond extract would be perfect in this.)

To make carrot bread batter:

In a bowl, whisk together:

  • 1 cup spelt flour
  • 1 cup quick oats
  • 1/2 cup oat flour
  • 2 tbs coconut flour
  • 1 tsp cinnamon or pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 2 tbs ground flaxseed
  • 1/2 cup coconut sugar (2/3 cup if you prefer sweeter breads)

Add:

  • 3/4 cup shredded carrots
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1 cup non-dairy milk
  • 1/4 cup oil
  • 1 tsp molasses [optional, but good flavor]

Stir together, and fold in:

  • 1 tbs apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 cup caramelized walnuts*

To make the bread:

Spread half the carrot bread batter into a bread pan. Pour the cream filling on top and swirl into the batter with a butter knife (gently). Spread the rest of the batter on top.

Bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes.

Allow to cool completely before serving. If you have extra time, store overnight to let the flavors and textures better mesh.

* To make caramelized walnuts, add 1/2 cup walnuts + 1 tbs coconut sugar in a nonstick pan. Cook until the sugar is melted and coats the walnuts, careful not to let the sugar burn. Let cool completely before using.

 

 

Costa Rican Banana Cake

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I’ve been to Costa Rica twice.

The first time was in 2009, when a past Spanish teacher invited some of his other former students to join a group of his current students on a trip there. Most of former students (the people I knew) couldn’t go, which left just my friend Sonia and me.

By that point, even though I had taken Spanish for three years, I would still fumble during simple conversations. My parents allowed me to go on the conditions that I would speak solely in Spanish, but considering I was there with 20 other teens and a close friend, none of whom could speak much better than I, that didn’t happen.

Instead I spent close to a week making new friends (in English) and having fun, not a total waste I think! (Though, if you ask my mom and dad, they grumble and say, “Yeah, yeah.”)

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Me and Sonia in Costa Rica!

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This summer, I lived with a Costa Rican family for three weeks. My days were divided between community service and Spanish lessons, with the occasional excursion on the weekends.

Since I visited with my friend and her sister, I wasn’t completely immersed and did speak some English, but with twenty hours of Spanish classes a week, I definitely improved my conversational skills and learned a lot.

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When I’m at home, I tend to cook most of my meals myself, mostly because I’m impatient and can’t bear the lag between asking for food and actually receiving it.

In Costa Rica, my host mother generously set out plates of food for me three times a day, and for three weeks I happily ate black beans, flavored rice, cabbage salad, and vegetables, with the occasional caramel candy or slice of cake.

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During one of the excursions, I bought a Costa Rican cookbook from a giftshop, already dreading a life without homemade rice and beans at every meal. It’s filled with recipes for savory and sweet dishes, and all the recipes I’ve tried so far have been successes.

I’ll post recipes for rice and beans soon, but they were both devoured before I could take pictures. Luckily, I snapped some shots of this banana cake in time.

This cake is denser than most banana cakes I’ve had, and the recipe called for cloves and nutmeg rather than cinnamon, but it was still delicious.

Costa Rican Banana Cake [Queque de banano]

EDIT: Looking back at this recipe, I’m realizing how crazy its ratio for liquid vs dry ingredients is. I’m not sure how it baked up properly when I made it, but I’ve edited it to reflect this highly regarded recipe, and kept the spices so that it still has that traditional Costa-Rican™

taste.

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 2 1/3 cup mashed ripe bananas
  • ½ cup butter, melted & cooled
  • ¾ cups sugar (the recipe called for twice as much. I think ¾ cup should be fine)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  1. Sift together the flour, baking powder, and spices.
  2. In another bowl mash the bananas.
  3. Add the butter, sugar, eggs milk, and vanilla.
  4. Fold the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients.
  5. Bake in a greased 9×13 pan for about 40-50 minutes, or until a knife inserted into the center comes out clean.

Classic Banana Bread

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Last week I came home to six overripe bananas. They were sitting on the counter: mushy, with outsides spotted brown, and no one wanted to eat them.

So I did what anyone would do; I made banana bread. I used a really simple recipe (normally I use one that calls for creme fraiche among other specialty ingredients), and surprisingly, the results were really good!

I topped slices with strawberries and chocolate ganache, and wow, it was delicious!

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Classic Banana Bread

  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • ½ cup vegetable oil
  • ¾ cup brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 ½ cups mashed bananas
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup chocolate chips
  1. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon.
  2. In another bowl, beat together the oil, sugar, and vanilla.
  3. Whisk in the eggs, one at a time.
  4. Stir in the mashed bananas.
  5. Add fold the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients, stirring until barely mixed.
  6. Fold in the chocolate chips.
  7. Bake in a greased loaf pan at 350 degrees, for about 45 minutes to an hour.

B is for Barmbrack

barmbrack1

barmbrack2

Yeasted bread.

It’s a phrase that makes me droll thinking about cinnamon rolls, french bread, brioche and ciabatta, while simultaneously cringing at the work required to make such treats.

Plus, combine the work required to make yeasted bread with the fact that I’m the third quarter of my junior year of high school (and that I just started Track and Field, which is two hours every weekday) and you’ll see how low bread making is on my priorities.

So here’s where the problem arises.  For my “Alphabet desserts around the world idea,” my next recipe was Barmbrack (Báirín Breac), a traditional irish yeasted bread.  To compensate for my laziness, as well as my lack of time, I ended up settling for a more tea-cake like version, a recipe I shamelessly butchered by added butter, but the results were awesome.

This weekend I actually have some time-weird-and I plan to try a more traditional yeast bread version and report back.  For now, this recipe should suffice.  The cake is fruity, sweet, and dense, and the perfect complement for a mug of hot tea.  How close it resembles it’s irish ancestor will tell, but never-the-less it’s a really enjoyable fruit cake.

Barmbrack 

Adapted from here.

  • ¾ cup dried apricots, chopped
  • ¾ cup dried figs, chopped
  • ¾ cups raisin and cranberry blend
  • 4 tea bags (I used 2 black tea bags and 2 fruity tea bags)
  • boiling water
  • 1 egg
  • 1 ½ cups sugar
  • ¼ cup orange marmalade
  • ½ cup butter, melted
  • 2 ½ cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon nutmeg
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  1. In a large bowl, combine the dried fruit and tea bags.  Add enough water to completely submerge, and allow to rest for 2 hours.
  2. In another bowl, sift together the flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, and baking soda.
  3. Beat together the egg, sugar, orange marmalade, and butter.
  4. Drain the fruit and add to the wet ingredients.  Stir Together. *note* do not discard of the fruit soaking water.
  5. Fold in the dry ingredients.
  6. Poor the batter into a greased and floured bundt pan, and bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes-1 hour, or until a toothpick inserted comes back clean.
  7. Remove from pan, and allow to cool on a baking rack until warm.

Glaze

  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • fruit soaking water (from above)
  1. Combine the sugar with the fruit soaking water, adding one tsp of the juice at a time.
  2. Stir until a glaze forms.
  3. Brush the still warm barmbrack with the glaze then allow to cool completely.
  4. Serve with milk, tea, or coffee.