Last fall, for some inexplicable reason, I got it in my head that I needed to make some carrot bread. Not having a recipe in my repertoire, I did a little research and tried several recipes that I thought might work, many of which turned out to be nothing more than carrot cake baked in a loaf pan. Not necessarily a bad thing, but not what I was going for. I really wanted something sort of healthier, delicious, yet not too calorie-laden. Sadly, I never found that perfect carrot bread recipe, and was in the process of developing one when Thanksgiving hit, then Christmas, and my need for carrot bread got put on the back burner.
But then a couple weeks ago, as I was browsing through some of Mark Bittman’s recent recipes, I came across this gem. Well, you can imagine my glee, and you can bet I had this carrot bread baking in my oven within the hour.
While it turned out to be quite scrumptious, there were still a few things I needed to tweak to create the carrot bread I’d been imagining. I’ve noted those changes on the recipe, but perhaps the most notable was the dominance of the orange zest. The recipe calls for 1 tablespoon, which didn’t seem like that much, but in the end, it sort of turned this into carrot-orange bread or orange-carrot bread. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but again, not what I was going for. If that meets your carrot bread requirements, by all means, add it in, but next time I’ll either greatly reduce the amount or leave it out altogether. OR I might swap it out for a little lemon zest which might even turn out to exceed my carrot bread fantasies. Here’s the recipe…
Brown Sugar Carrot Bread
Recipe courtesy Mark Bittman
This is a deliciously moist, dense quick bread, but there are a few things I will do differently next time. First I think I might lighten up the texture of the bread a little. Mark used a combination of 1 ¼ cups all-purpose, ½ cup whole wheat, and ¼ cup course wheat bran, and I used a cup each of all purpose flour and white whole wheat flour. Next time I think I might cut the whole wheat flour back to 1/2 cup. I thought the orange zest was a little too dominant, so I suggest you eliminate it altogether. Lastly, 1 teaspoon of salt seemed a bit much; 1/2 tsp is perfect. The recipe didn't include them, but I added 1 cup raisins to the batter.
Makes: 1 loaf
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) cold butter, plus butter for the pan
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup brown sugar (golden or dark)
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt (I recommend 1/2 tsp)
¾ cup almond milk
1 tablespoon grated orange zest (I recommend you eliminate this)
1 cup grated carrots
½ cup sliced almonds
1 cup raisins
1. Heat the oven to 350d F. Grease a 9 x 5-inch loaf pan with butter or spray with cooking spray. (I suggest you use a smaller loaf pan...the bread comes out much nicer and cooks up perfectly).
2. Stir together the dry ingredients. Cut the butter into bits, then use a fork, 2 knives, or your fingers to cut or rub it into the dry ingredients until there are no pieces bigger than a small pea. (You can use a food processor for this step, which makes it quite easy, but you should not use a food processor for the remaining steps or the bread will be tough.)
3. Beat together the milk, zest and egg. Pour into the dry ingredients, mixing just enough to moisten; do not beat and do not mix until the batter is smooth. Fold in the grated carrots, raisins and the nuts, then pour and spoon the batter into the loaf pan. Bake for about an hour, or until the bread is golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool on a rack for 15 minutes before removing from the pan.
I've had a couple of people ask about almond milk which is listed as an ingredient in this recipe. Almond milk has become fairly common in most grocery stores. You can usually find it on the same aisle as the soy milk or rice milk. Almond milk is high in calcium, vitamin D and antioxidants. It's fairly lowfat and seems to be a good, healthy alternative to dairy in recipes. If you'd like more information, you can click here to read more. Other brands of almond milk include BlueDiamond and SilkPureAlmond. If you can't find almond milk in your store, I would subsitute yogurt for it in this recipe.