What do you do with a 5 pound bag of Costco carrots? (Besides sending out an APB to all neighborhood rabbits.) Resist the urge to eat them all plain (you’ll turn orange) or bake them into a cake (you’ll turn into a giant orange version of yourself).
Instead, try them in a quick-bread, where shredded carrots and whole wheat flour combine with the warming spices of cinnamon and ginger. The result is a tender loaf that makes a healthy breakfast just that much more enticing.
Thick slices of this are reminiscent of carrot cake, but the minimal sweetness and heart healthy ingredients are something you can feel virtuous about. For all of you that closed the tab because you felt threatened just at the thought of fiber invading your baked goods, don’t worry. Buttermilk is a two-pronged attack on dry and dense bread. The reaction between the acidic buttermilk and the baking soda creates bubbles of carbon dioxide gas within the batter, which help to lighten the crumb. Secondly, the thick texture of the tangy buttermilk keeps the dough from becoming too dry. If you don’t have buttermilk on hand because really, who does, I have a quick solution.
Combine regular low-fat milk with some type of acid, and let it sit for a few minutes. (I prefer lemon juice, but white or apple cider vinegar works as well.) In order to further the success of this quick-bread, as well as any other quick-breads you may make, gently stir the batter until everything is just incorporated. Overly zealous stirring creates more gluten, which will make this bread dense and dry.
Admittedly, this is more work that pouring a bowl of cereal at 7 am, but once you get a taste of this tender, slightly spicy treat, you won’t regret any of the time spent making it. It’s hard to imagine anyone’s morning not improving with toasted slices of this bread. Try it spread with jam or almond butter and start your day off on the right foot.
Carrot Cake Quick-bread
Makes 1 9″ x 5″ loaf (8-12 slices)
1/2 cup milk
1/2 tablespoon lemon juice
1/3 cup granulated sugar
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 cups grated carrots
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ginger
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon table salt
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup toasted walnuts, coarsely chopped
1. Preheat the oven to 350F and brush a 9″ X 5″ loaf pan with oil.
2. Mix the milk and lemon juice and set aside to thicken into a faux-buttermilk, for 5 minutes.
3. In a large bowl, whisk together the sugar and eggs. Next, whisk in the oil and “buttermilk.”
4. Stir in the grated carrots until well combined.
5. Add the cinnamon, ginger, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and flours to the bowl and fold in gently until just combined.
6. Gently fold in the walnuts, making sure that all the flour is incorporated.
7. Pour the batter into the greased loaf pan and smooth it into an even layer.
8. Bake on the middle rack of the oven for 55-65 minutes until golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center of the bread comes out clean. Let cool the bread in the pan for 10-15 minutes, then remove from the pan and let finish cooling on a wire rack.
Note: This bread freezes very well, so if you did buy a 5 pound bag of Costco carrots, you can double the batch and wrap one loaf in a double layer of plastic wrap, put it in a plastic bag, and freeze for up to 2 months.