This is one of those foolproof recipes to keep in your back pocket that you can basically throw together with whatever you have on hand. The base recipe is from Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything, which is one of my kitchen staples. It really does tell you how to cook (pretty much) everything! I found it invaluable this past summer, as we were part of a CSA and I received some unfamiliar vegetables in my basket some weeks (e.g. kohlrabi). He includes fantastic explanations of basic cooking techniques and base recipes you can begin to augment as your chef skills improve over time.
The base recipe is called “Fruit-and-Nut or Vegetable-and-Nut Bread,” and provides a simple, straightforward recipe to which you can add whatever combination of fruits, vegetables and nuts suit your fancy. Apples, carrots, zucchini, berries, pumpkin – anything goes.
In my version, I’ve included copious amounts of fresh and dried ginger along with a dash of cinnamon and piles of finely shredded carrots. The result is a lovely, spicy carrot loaf that is a perfect vessel for gobs of cream cheese frosting and crisp toasted walnuts. This bread definitely did not last long in my house.
This would be a fabulous, simple dessert to pull together quickly for a festive dinner. I also just like having sweet things like this on hand for a treat with my coffee, or for unexpected visitors. Isn’t it nice to have something freshly baked whenever someone comes over? Bonus points in my books if it’s slathered in cream cheese frosting. Happy baking!
- 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 cup sugar
- 1½ teaspoons baking powder
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ¾ milk (I used almond milk)
- 1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
- ½ teaspoon dried ginger
- ½ teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 egg
- 1 cup finely grated carrot (pack it into the measuring cup with all its juice!)
- ½ cup chopped, toasted walnuts for topping (optional)
- 1½ cups confectioners' (icing) sugar, sifted
- ¼ cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, softened
- 4 oz cream cheese (half a block), softened
- ½ teaspoon vanilla
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9x5-inch loaf pan.
- Stir together the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, dried ginger and cinnamon. Cut the butter into the dry ingredients using a pastry blender, a fork (or your fingers) until there are no pieces larger than a small pea.
- Beat together the milk, egg and fresh ginger. Pour into the dry ingredients, mixing just to moisten - do not over mix! Fold in the grated carrot, then pour/spoon the batter into the prepared pan.
- Bake for about 1 hour, until the bread is golden and a toothpick inserted into the centre comes out clean. Cool on a rack 15 minutes before removing from pan to cool completely.
- Beat butter until completely smooth, with no lumps. Beat in the cream cheese until combined.
- Add the sugar and vanilla and beat until smooth. If the texture is too thick, add a little bit of milk or cream. If it's too thin, add a bit more icing sugar.
- Frost cooled cake and sprinkle with toasted walnuts and a bit of cinnamon, if desired.