When I was little, I used to sit on the floor in front of my mother’s cookbook shelf and aimlessly flip through the dozens ofcookbooks that she had (ahem, has), in her collection — my mother is the original cookbook hoarder of the family… I remember The Moosewood Cookbook from my early cookbookery explorations mainly because it was a book that my mother used over and over again. Though the cookbook has been re-published several times since the original was published in 1977, Mollie Katzen’s book remains a favorite of Mama’s and after baking this carrot loaf, I can see why – hello, it’s delish.
The decision to make The Moosewood Cookbook carrot loaf was necessitated by the excessive amount of carrots in my fridge; honestly, you think I would check before I went to the grocery store. The other factor that spurred me on is that I always like having a little bit of a snacking cake or loaf around. Maybe it’s the fifties housewife in me, but Collin Murray does enjoy having something baked to nibble on when he’s hungry. Plus, the best thing about making a quick mix loaf like this one is that it’s well, quick. Melt some butter, sift some flour, grate some carrots, stir it together and it’s done. Quick. I like that.
When I made the carrot loaf, I added a lot more carrots then the original called for — seriously people, I have a ton. I have included amount that Katzen originally suggested in her recipe but if you wanted to add even a cup more of grated carrots, you could certainly do so without harm.
The flavor of the carrot loaf is really lovely. The allspice and cinnamon add just a hint of warmth and the citrus zest and juice create a really nice balance with the natural sweetness of the carrots. Orange juice and zest would be a nice addition, as would raisins or chopped pecans or walnuts.
The one warning that I will give is that the batter of this loaf is quite dry. Loaves and snacking cakes do tend to be dense as batters because when they are baked they are dense but with the carrot loaf, the lack of moisture translated to a final product that was a little bit too crumbly for me. Collin Murray has naturally already eaten a third of the loaf without complaint, but if you wanted to reduce the crumbs, I would suggest baking the loaf as muffins. I know it sounds crazy but most times loaf and muffin batters are pretty much the same thing; something that you bake as a muffin can easily be baked as a loaf and vice versa. This recipe is one that when I make again, I will do so in a muffin pan as the final product will be less crumbly and also retain more moisture in baking.
Carrot Loaf (adapted from The Moosewood Cookbook by Mollie Katzen)
Makes 1 loaf or 12 muffins
¾ cup unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled
¾ cup plus two tablespoons brown sugar
1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
Zest of one lemon
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup all purpose flour
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon baking soda
1 ½ baking powder
½ teaspoon allspice
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 ¼ cups grated carrot (about 1 large carrot or 2 medium carrots)
Preheat the oven to 350˚F. In a large bowl, whisk together the cooled, melted butter and brown sugar till combined. Add eggs one at a time to the mixture, beating well after each addition, then add the vanilla and lemon zest.
In a medium-sized bowl, mix together both flours, baking soda and powder, salt and spices.
Grate carrots on a box grater.
Add the flour mixture and carrots alternatively to the batter beginning and ending with the flour. After each addition, fold the ingredients with a spatula. The mixture will be quite stiff, but try not to overbeat the batter.
Place into the batter into a well-greased loaf pan. Bake for 40 to 50 minutes or until a cake tester inserted into the middle of the loaf comes out clean. Cool on a rack for 30 minutes, then remove from the pan and enjoy!