Whole Wheat Maple Carrot Bread

From sweet to savory, quick bread recipes—those that use quick-rise leavening agents like baking soda instead of slow-rising yeast—abound. The most popular lean to the sweet side and contain some fruit or veggie along with other goodies like chopped nuts, chocolate chips or spices.  Think zucchini or banana bread.Whole Wheat Maple Carrot Quick Bread--the ingredients

Because March can be a challenge for the Midwestern locavore, this quick bread recipe takes advantage of what fresh produce remains at the Milwaukee County Winter Farmers Market in these dwindling days of winter.  Behold the miracle of the March carrot, which retains its sweet flavor and crisp texture  five months after its harvest.

In my opinion, carrots, walnuts and maple create a perfect trifecta of flavor.  And while whole wheat flour is used, the texture remains light and tender. (If you have reservations  about using  whole grains in a sweet treat, click here for motivation.)   The whole food ingredients make this bread nutrient dense so serve it for a quick, healthy breakfast or an after-school snack.  Beware, however, that it is still calorie dense so don’t eat the whole loaf as you may be tempted to do. (Or is it just me that finds the flavor of maple syrup irresistible?)Whole Wheat Maple Carrot Quick Bread 2

Maple Carrot Bread
Author: 
Recipe type: Baking, Breakfast
Cuisine: American
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Yield: 2 loaf pans
 
These make great muffins too; just reduce the bake time to about 15 minutes.
Ingredients
  • DRY INGREDIENTS
  • 3 cups of all-purpose or pastry whole wheat flour
  • 1 t salt
  • 1 t baking soda
  • 3 t baking powder
  • 1 t *cinnamon--optional
  • WET INGREDIENTS
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup oil
  • 1 cup brown *sugar, packed
  • ½ cup maple syrup
  • 2 t vanilla extract
  • 3 cups grated carrot
  • ½ cup milk
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts
  • GLAZE TOPPING
  • 1 cup confectioner’s sugar
  • ½ cup maple syrup
  • 1 t vanilla extract
Instructions
  1. Grease two loaf pans. Place parchment or waxed paper at the bottom for easiest release. Preheat oven to 350◦ F.
  2. In a large bowl combine the “Dry Ingredients” using a whisk to make sure they are thoroughly combined.
  3. Next, beat the “Wet Ingredients” together in a mixing bowl.
  4. Add the dry to the wet ingredients and stir until combined—DO NOT OVER-STIR!
  5. Pour into prepared pans and bake at 350◦ F for about an hour. Insert a skewer in the center to check that the interior is done before removing from the oven. The loaf is baked if the skewer comes out clean or with few crumbs.
  6. Once baked, remove from oven and cool on a rack for 10-20 minutes. Next, remove bread from the pan and cool further on a rack.
  7. Whisk the confectioner's sugar,maple and vanilla until completely smooth. Drizzle maple glaze over the warm bread. It will set once cooled.
Notes
*Cinnamon can sometimes over-power the subtle flavor of maple. For greater maple flavor, leave out the cinnamon altogether and drizzle or sprinkle maple syrup or maple sugar on top of the unbaked loafs. Once baked, follow with the maple glaze.
**This recipe is very flexible, I have left out the sugar altogether and reduced it by half with still great, fluffy less-sweet muffins.

Storage Tip:

Because whole wheat flours include the germ, they contain oils. These oils can go rancid easily and cause a bitter, unpleasant flavor. According to the Whole Grains Council, whole grain flours kept in an air-tight containers should last for 3 months in the pantry and 6-12 months in the fridge or freezer.Whole Wheat Maple Carrot Quick Bread--greasing the pansWhole Wheat Maple Carrot Quick Bread-cracking eggsWhole Wheat Maple Carrot Quick Bread--Mixing

Cooking with Kids:

Because baking requires little-to-no knife work, I always include the kids.  It allows them greater autonomy and participation in the cooking process as I’m not hovering over them making sure they don’t cut their finger. We’ve baked together so often, that the girls know how to properly measure flours by spooning them into the dry measuring cups and leveling them. They know how to crack eggs.  They can essentially do everything…except read, but we’re working on that.  My goal in including them is to not only create healthier eaters but also contributing members of the family that can make me a quick bread sometime in the near future while I relax.Whole Wheat Maple Carrot Quick Bread--eating glazeWhole Wheat Maple Carrot Quick Bread 1

 

Whole Grain Apple Crisp

Apple Crisp--ServedI easily succumb to the temptation of sweet treats particularly baked goods.  My daughters share this weakness, though they naturally gravitate to candy.   My husband is the exception, and despite his relentless admonishments, we eat a sweet treat nearly every night after dinner—not a lot but something.  The meal just doesn’t feel complete without it.

Though I love bakery treats, I have limited talent for the art of baking, and that is purposeful. As a limited resource, I have only so much time to dedicate to cooking.  If I’m doing my best to create whole-food, plant-based meals every day that are not only healthy but enjoyable to eat, well then sweet treats have to take a backseat. Moreover, let’s say that I did regularly bake.  Who would eat it?  Not my children.  I am a responsible parent, and would limit their intake.  Not my sweet-toothless husband.  That leaves me, standing alone in my pantry, quietly cramming cookies in my mouth while my children call out, “What are you doing in there, Mama?”  I’ve been down that road to Weight Watchers more than once.

When I do find the time to make desserts, I incorporate the foods we need for good health too—fruits, legumes and whole grains.  I don’t delude myself.  Even though they they are made with whole foods, they remain desserts—hard-to-resist, calorie-dense, goodies made with butter and sugar.  Eating a lot of them will make you fat.

Some of you may poo-poo my sweet treat philosophy.  You’re thinking, “Just let cake be cake, and healthy foods be damned at dessert-time.”  But cake is too easy to come by, and I eat enough of it without going out of my way.   My own cooking efforts have to go toward the goal of including at least 8 – 12 serving of fruits and vegetables in our diet every day. This adds a challenging new dimension to the art of creating sweet treats. While I want them to be healthy, taste is essential. Nothing leaves me feeling more cheated than eating a grainy, tasteless food masquerading as a sweet treat.

Fruit is a natural solution.  It’s nature’s candy. I make apple crisp a lot and have for years.  The prep work takes only a few minutes with the right tools, it’s chock full of apples, and no-one feels cheated when served a warm, fresh from-the-oven helping of apple crisp topped with a dollop of ice cream or whipped cream.

Apple Crisp
Author: 
Recipe type: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Yield: 8
 
Pears, peaches, and cherries also work nicely in this recipe. Serve it with a bit of whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.
Ingredients
  • 3 ½ pounds apples, cored and peeled
  • 1 T lemon juice (optional)
  • ½ cup raisins or other dried fruit (optional)
  • 6 T unsalted butter, cold
  • ½ cup whole wheat pastry flour
  • ½ cup quick oats
  • ¾ cup brown sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
Instructions
  1. Lightly butter an 11” x 7” (8 cup) baking dish and preheat oven to 375◦ F.
  2. Core and peel the apples; toss with lemon juice and dried fruit; and place in the baking dish.
  3. Cut the butter into small chunks.
  4. Using a food processor or fork or hands, cut the butter into the rest of the dry ingredients until it is just combined. (It should look lumpy and crumbly).
  5. Sprinkle the crumble mixture over the apples and bake until the apples are tender and the crisp is crisp—about 50 minutes.

Cooking with Kids:

Apple Crisp Prep--Pealing Apples

This may be one of the easiest, no-fuss, no-danger recipes to make with your kids.  Invest in an apple peeler if you don’t have one.  Kids never tire of using that gadget.

Officially, to make the crumble, you should not use your hands to cut the butter into the dry ingredients as the heat from your hands will melt the butter. I ignore this rule as the kids love to use their hands. Just don’t let them do it for too long and start with ice cold butter. I haven’t noticed any difference in crisp mixed with a fork or hands.

Apple Crisp Ingredients--All   Apple Crisp Ingredients--ButterApple Crisp Prep--Nutmeg2

The girls made this recipe with me just supervising and setting up.

Apple Crisp Prep--Making Topping

Apple Crisp--Before Baking

The crisp before placing it in the oven.