What do you get when you cross carrot cake with zucchini bread? Well, well, well… look no further. I was looking for something sweet with carrots, but not overpoweringly cake-y, and certainly no frosting (as is the norm with most carrot cakes). Not that I have anything against frosting, rather I wanted to let the natural carrot sweetness come through (although I was told this carrot bread is suspiciously tasty and tastes nothing like carrots). I added a handful of dried sour cherries on a whim (thinking they were actually raisins), and what a serendipitous surprise it was! The chewy tartness from the cherries perfectly offset the sweetness from the carrots and played well with the crunchy nuttiness from the walnuts.
By the way, every time I think of zucchinis, one of two thoughts come to me:
- Zucchinis are a great starter vegetable for the beginner gardener. I have enjoyed so many great zucchinis in my brief foray in community gardens.
- The French word for zucchini is courgette. I learned this from watching My Life as a Zucchini.
Yield: one bread loaf, as pictured.
- 1 tsp ground Ceylon cinnamon (I think it’s sweeter than the Cassia variety, but honestly, I don’t think it makes much of a difference in this case)
- 1 1/2 cups flour
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 2 eggs
- 1 cup of sugar
- 100 g melted butter
To be folded into the batter
- a handful of dried sour cherries
- 1 cup of chopped walnuts
- 4 carrots, peeled and grated
- Preheat the oven to 160 C.
- In a large mixing bowl, combine the dry bits well.
- In another vessel, mix the wet bits.
- Grease and flour the loaf pan.
- Gradually incorporate the dry mix into the wet mix in thirds, stirring well to prevent a lumpy batter.
- Fold the cherries, walnuts, and carrots in the batter.
- Pour the batter in the loaf pan and tamp it.
- Bake for 45-60 minutes, or until an inserted toothpick/chopstick comes out clean.
- Cool for 10 minutes before attempting to unmold.
I’m noticing a trend with myself, blueberries and cake (Blueberry Almond Coffee Cake, Lemon Blueberry Bread). Is the perfect blueberry cake my white whale? Or do I simply have an unconscious affinity for blueberries? Anyway. I got to try out a couple new techniques with this recipe, and so it was deemed blog-worthy. Two thoughts:
- What’s it like to whip egg whites into soft peaks without the aid of a kitchen appliance? (Answer: Surprisingly, it’s not that much work to do manually; Amy gives this method an A+ and continues to espouse the viewpoint that most kitchen gadgets are a scam.)
- What does yogurt cake taste like, and would it imply sour cream cake (Smeteneh Küchen) is delicious? (Answer: Yogurt cake is unbelievably moist and Smeteneh Küchen cannot get in my belly fast enough.)
Yield: a 20 cm cake
- 100 g rolled oats
- 100 g almond meal
- 80 g flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 100 g butter, cubed
- 160 ml honey
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 3 eggs, yolks and whites separated
- zest of 1 lemon
- 250 ml plain unsweetened yogurt (I used 3.8% fat yogurt, but next time I’m going to spring for the 10% fat Greek yogurt, or skip directly to the sour cream.)
- 300 g blueberries (I had a 50-50 split of fresh and frozen, separated)
- optional: whipped cream as a topping
- Preheat the oven to 180 C.
- Grease the springform (either with butter or a bit of olive oil).
- Using a food processor or a blender, blend the oats until the texture resembles coarse flour.
- Mix all the dry ingredients in a large bowl.
- Separately combine the butter, honey, and lemon zest in another vessel. Mix until creamy.
- Add the yogurt and the egg yolks, mix, and don’t over stir.
- Combine the dry bits into the wet bits in thirds, and stir this until the lumps are gone.
- In another clean and dry bowl, whip the egg whites by hand until you get soft peaks. Take the opportunity to develop your non-dominant arm’s beating muscles.
- Fold the egg whites and the frozen blueberries in the dough, careful not to over-mix as this will result in a flat and compact cake, completely wasting all the lift you just whipped into the egg whites.
- Pour the cake batter in the springform and scatter the remaining blueberries over the top.
- Bake for 1 hour.
- Let the cake cool for 10 minutes before attempting to liberate it (into your mouth).
- Serve with a dollop of whipped cream, if you wish.
I’m pleased – it’s a good sign you’re getting more comfortable with your city when you can mix up local ingredients (marzipan & müsli) with a classic recipe (cookie bars). Toss in some ghee and you’ve got yourself a funky, unexpected drool-inducer.
Yield: one 9×13 pan
- 200g marzipan
- 230g flour (1 3/4 cups)
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 65g sugar (1/3 cup)
- 125g butter (keep it cold and slice into chunks) – I prefer Sauerrahmbutter, but I guess regular butter could do (in a pinch)
- 105g müsli (1 1/3 cup) – could sub rolled oats
- 125g butter – see the note on Sauerrahmbutter above (I said we were tossing in ghee right?)
- 100g sugar (1/2 cup)
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 3 eggs
- 2 tsp vanilla extract (or 1-2 vanilla pods)
- 1/2 cup finely shredded coconut
- 200g chocolate chips
- a handful of chopped dried fruits, e.g. figs, dates, or apricots
- powdered sugar, to finish
- Preheat the oven to 175 C.
- Line a 9×13 baking dish with parchment paper.
- Combine the crust ingredients in a bowl and knead it well. The dough will be very crumbly at first, but keep at it, and it’ll come together promptly. You don’t have to make it extremely smooth – the butter chunks should not be too well incorporated in the dough (channel your pie crust making skills).
- Press the crust evenly into the pan with your fingers, and let it come up the sides by about 1/4 inch.
- Bake the crust for 20-30 minutes, or until it’s lightly golden.
- Meanwhile in a saucepan on the stove, melt the butter over medium heat. Do not be tempted to turn this to high heat because it will burn quickly. Pay attention to the water escaping as it’s heated (bubbly noises). Once the bubbly noises taper off, some of the milk solids in the butter will start to brown. Only let it brown a little – take it off the heat.
- Stir in the sugar and salt. Let this cool for 10 minutes.
- Stir in the eggs and vanilla to the butter mix.
- Combine the gooey filling with the müsli, chocolate, coconut, and dried fruit (if using).
- Evenly spread the filling over the parbaked crust.
- Bake for another 15-20 minutes.
- Once cool, you can cut the bars and dust with the powdered sugar.
Does it still count if I made it from a box?
On one of our recent trips to Milan, we discovered this delicious holiday fruit bread. It’s a classic Italian Christmas staple. Strangely, it was priced pretty high as far as fruit breads go, so I decided to try making it at home to see what the fuss was about. It’s quite a bit of time (mostly waiting for the dough to rise), but not more work than making normal bread or pizza dough – definitely worth it to make at home. My favorite part is the candied orange peels. Normally, this is made with a special deep cake form so that the Panettone poufs over the top, but I used a 20 cm springform cake pan instead (who has time to get a special pan for one dish?).
- 3/4 cup flour
- 1/16 tsp instant yeast
- 1/3 cup cool water
- all of the starter (above)
- 2 1/4 cups flour
- 1 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/3 cup sugar
- 1/4 cup lukewarm water
- 1 tbsp instant yeast
- 2 eggs
- 50 g butter
- 1 tsp vanilla
Delicious chunks (mix and match the fruits to your preference)
- 2 tbsp orange zest (can substitute lemon zest)
- 1/2 cup raisins
- 1/2 cup slivered dried apricots
- 1/2 cup candied orange peels
- 1/2 cup slivered prunes
- 1/2 cup slivered dates
- Knead together the starter ingredients and cover in a bowl to rest overnight (8-12 hours).
- Combine all the dry dough ingredients in a large bowl: flour, salt, sugar.
- Dissolve the yeast in the warm water.
- In another bowl, mix together the yeast water, eggs, butter, and vanilla.
- Add all of the starter to the wet mixture and start kneading the flour mix in thirds.
- Allow the dough to rise, covered, for 90 minutes.
- Knead in the fruits and zest.
- Shape the dough into a ball and place it in a pan to rest for another hour.
- Bake at 205 C for 10 minutes.
- Reduce the heat to 190 C and bake for another 10 minutes.
- Reduce the heat to 175 C, cover with aluminum foil, and bake for 25 minutes.
- Allow it to cool completely before cutting.
This is my first vegan dessert, and it turned out amazing the first time I made it. How many times can I claim wild success the first time I make something? (Answer: once) If I were to imagine what a “healthy” snickers bar should taste like, it would be these chocolate covered dates. And the best part is that there is no baking involved whatsoever! Actually the best part is the leftover peanut butter mousse – it is top notch on apples, celery, toast… the list goes on.
Yield: 33 chocolate covered dates
- 300 g dates
- 64 g crunchy peanut butter (about 1/2 cup)
- 150 g dark chocolate
- 1 tsp coconut oil
- 1 can of coconut milk, refrigerated overnight
- Scoop out the fat in the coconut milk can (it will have separated from the liquid).
- Whip the coconut cream vigorously for a minute.
- Fold in the peanut butter and continue whipping.
- Refrigerate for 30 minutes.
- While you wait, melt the chocolate and coconut oil in a small saucepan or in a double boiler.
- Pit the dates. I made a small slice down the length of each date to remove the pit – without the pit, the dates could still be smooshed back together. I did not cut through the date completely.
- Fill the empty cavity in the dates with the peanut butter mousse and smoosh them back to their original shape.
- Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
- Dip the dates in chocolate. Place them on the parchment paper. A fork is very useful for this part.
- If it’s cold outside, put the dates outside to set. Otherwise, put them in the refrigerator. This took around 30 minutes.
This is is the cookie to end all cookies, although I have no idea what turtles have to do with it. The memory of eating this cookie for the very first time is seared into my brain. Some foods are just like that – I can vividly remember the very first time I tried this cookie in my high school cafeteria. Yup, this cookie brings back those kinds of memories.
Yields: 13 large cookies or 26 smallish cookies
- 1 and 1/3 cup flour
- 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 100 g butter
- 3/4 cup brown sugar
- 1 egg
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 3/4 cup chopped pecans (I have also tried walnuts and they work too)
- 1/8 cup milk
- 80 g soft caramel candies diced into very small cubes
- Preheat the oven to 175 C
- In a large bowl, mix together the dry ingredients: flour, cocoa powder, salt, baking soda
- In another large bowl, mix the wet ingredients: melted butter, sugar, egg, vanilla extract, milk
- Add the flour mixture to the bowl with wet ingredients in thirds
- Fold in the caramel candies and the chopped nuts
- Form the dough into small balls and lay them out on a cookie sheet
- Bake for 10-12 minutes (Around minute 8, I will press them down with a spoon to flatten them a little)