Aug 20th, 2007
As you may have noticed I like to read cookbooks. I buy them new and used, check them out of the library, and make long lists of books that I absolutely need to read. There are a lot of good cookbooks out there, but it's inevitable that after a while a lot of recipes start to seem repetitive. After all there are only so many ways to prepare a rustic fruit tart or seared flank steak. So I'm always excited when I come across a recipe that is entirely new to me or incorporates familiar ingredients in an unexpected way.
This recipe for a quick savory carrot bread includes pecans, whole wheat flour, dried dill, and Chinese five spice - certainly not a combination I had seen before - so of course I had to give it a try. The preparation is also a bit different. It's a quick bread leavened with baking soda rather than yeast, but you knead it like a yeast bread and bake it in a freeform loaf.
The recipe comes together quickly and the results are really quite good. The carrots make the bread much moister than your typical whole wheat loaf. In fact it kept for almost a week without going stale and dry, quite a feat for homemade bread. The dill and five spice don't come through too much in the loaf once it is baked, just enough to give a bit of complexity to the taste. I might add just a bit more five spice next time to see what that's like. Try this bread warm with lots of butter, or spread with a savory cream cheese and smoked salmon.
Savory Carrot Breadmakes one loaf1 cup buttermilk
4 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
2 large eggs
1 tbsp honey
4 to 5 cups whole-wheat flour, plus extra for kneading
2 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp Chinese five-spice powder
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp dried dill
2 cups shredded carrots
1/2 cup pecan pieces, toasted
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine the buttermilk, butter, eggs, and honey and beat on low speed until smooth.
In a medium bowl, combine 4 cups of the flour, the baking powder, five-spice, salt, baking soda, and dill. Stir with a whisk to blend. With the mixer on low speed, gradually add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients, then beat in the carrots and nuts just until combined. Remove the bowl from the mixer and scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula to incorporate the ingredients.
Turn the dough into a well-floured work surface and sprinkle it with 1/2 cup of the remaining flour. Knead the flour into it, adding more as needed, until the dough is barely sticky. On the prepared pan, shape it into an oblong approximately 10 inches long, 5 inches wide, and no more than 2 inches high. Cut a large shallow X into the top with a sharp knife.
Bake the bread for one hour, or until it is browned and sounds hollow when tapped on the bottom. Transfer to a rack and let cool for at least 15 minutes before slicing.
-Ann Martin Rolke, Hands-Off Cooking