Here's a challenge for me: pick a recipe and follow it as closely as possible. I have written about why it's difficult for me to follow recipes, and I'm determined to learn to have trust in a good recipe and use my cooking instincts to make it work for me. That is to say, making informed adaptations to fit my diet and appropriate substitutions when I don't have all the ingredients needed.
After helping a friend harvest carrots in his backyard garden, we ended up with jars of carrot juice that left a lot of carrot pulp. So I went online in search of ideas to prevent wastage and found a recipe for carrot and raisin soda bread by Five and Spice that has no sugar, no oil, no butter and not even eggs. The recipe only calls for six ingredients: flour, baking soda, salt, shredded carrots, buttermilk and raisins. And it takes a fraction of the time normally needed to make yeast bread. Perfect! I had all the ingredients needed (well, almost) and the appetite for some healthy, wholesome bread.
- I halved the original recipe to make a smaller portion (a 5-inch round loaf), and managed to cut it into 8 slices good for 4 servings.
- A mixture of whole spelt flour and unbleached pastry flour was used.
- Instead of shredded carrots, carrot pulp from juicing went into the bread.
- I made buttermilk substitute* using almond milk following a recipe I found online: 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar + enough almond milk added to make 1 cup of total liquid. Stir and set aside for at least 5 minutes.
- I didn’t have enough raisins so I mixed raisins with prunes and dried black mission figs that I chopped into smaller pieces.
- I did not wait until the bread was completely cool before slicing, for no better reason other than I was starving. I gave in at about 47 minutes. Yes, I was counting.
It’s so moist and light that you can’t tell this was made without oil, butter and eggs. Most of its flavor comes from the carrots and mixed dried fruits that also provide a natural sweetness. Whole spelt flour gives it an earthy taste and a rustic brown color that goes well with the deep orange hue of carrots and specks of dark fruit chunks. For a soda bread first-timer, this recipe is easy, quick and highly satisfying to make. Good on its own or spread with butter, we’ll happily eat this for breakfast or as a teatime snack.
Carrot Soda Bread Adapted from Five and Spice. Makes one 5-inch round loaf.
1 cup whole spelt flour
1 cup unbleached pastry flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup carrot pulp/ shredded carrots
3/4 cup + 2 tablespoons dairy-free buttermilk* (see notes above)
1/2 cup mixed raisins, chopped prunes and chopped dried black mission figs
Preheat oven to 400° F. Combine flours, baking soda and salt in a large bowl and mix well.
Make a well in the center of mixture, add buttermilk and carrot, and stir until the wet ingredients are incorporated into the dry ingredients. A sticky dough will form.
Add the dried fruits and gently knead them into the dough with your hands. Shape the dough into a ball and transfer to a 9-inch cast iron skillet or a baking pan lined with parchment paper.
Bake for 40 minutes or until dough is crusty and brown. It’s ready when you tap the bottom and it sounds hollow.
Transfer bread to a cooling rack and allow to cool before slicing.