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By the Book: Erin McKenna’s Carrot Bread

April 18th 11:04am, 2015

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As fellow gluten-free and dairy-free diners can attest, eating with dietary restrictions is easier said than done. At restaurants, we must ignore our friends’ barely-concealed cringes as we deconstruct an entree to conform to our needs. At home, we spend hours scouring niche food blogs for our next meal. Perhaps the biggest test of my willpower, though, is when an unknowing waiter places an overflowing bread basket in front of me. After years of coveting that basket of forbidden gluten, I was thrilled when my editor Catherine Klene dropped a copy of Bread & Butter: Gluten-Free Vegan Recipes to Fill Your Bread Basket by my desk.

Sauce interns get to try a lot of food on the job, and my editors always search for something I can eat among the loot, usually only to be foiled — a slice of cake might be gluten-free, but not dairy-free, or vice versa. That’s why McKenna’s book, featuring indulgent recipes that are gluten-free and vegan, seemed the perfect end to a semester-long quest for “something Tori can eat.”

McKenna, who also passed on the bread basket for two decades due to a gluten sensitivity, now runs BabyCakes, a gluten-free vegan bakery with locations in New York City, Los Angeles and Orlando. Based on recipes pioneered in her bakery, her new cookbook begins with a break down of basic ingredients and baking tips invaluable to those new to specialty baking. From there, her book is broken up into chapters by category: morning treats, breads (of course), sandwiches, pizza and focaccia, kids’ recipes, international cuisine, puff pastries and tarts, snacks, dips and dressings (including vegan butter!), and desserts. While the pain au chocolate looked tempting, I chose the carrot bread because it looked both doable and delicious.

 

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McKenna’s recipes are straightforward and concise throughout, usually taking no more than a page of text punctuated with beautiful photos and colorful design. Her carrot bread calls for walnut oil or coconut oil, vegan sugar, gluten-free baking flour (we used Cup 4 Cup), arrowroot, xanthan gum, shredded carrots and optional chopped walnuts. Gluten-free home cooks already have most of these items in our kitchen pantries.

As an amateur baker, I found McKenna’s instructions easy to follow. The only painstaking part of the baking process was shredding all those carrots. Next time, I’ll do this the night before or use the shredder attachment on a food processor. Also be aware that this recipe takes some time – as a yeast bread, the dough needs an hour to rise, and then requires another 35 minutes in the oven. Keep a good book on hand or start trolling the Internet for more niche foodie blogs.

Despite these few bumps, I found the finished product to be well worth the wait. For someone who hasn’t eaten bread, much less homemade bread, in quite some time, McKenna’s carrot bread truly was a treat. I found the bread to be spongy and light, with a slight texture and crunch from the walnuts. Though the book claims that even non gluten-free and vegan people will love this recipe, my Sauce coworkers claim they could tell the difference. Still, for those gluten-free and vegan among us, this carrot bread is a real indulgence.

 

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Carrot Bread
Makes 1 7-by-4-by-3-inch loaf

3 Tbsp. walnut oil or melted unscented coconut oil, plus more for the pan
1½ cups warm water (about 100 degrees)
4 Tbsp. vegan sugar
2¼ tsp. active dry yeast
2 cups Bob’s Red Mill Gluten-Free All-Purpose Baking Flour
2 Tbsp. arrowroot
½ tsp. xanthan gum
1 tsp. baking powder
2 tsp. ground cinnamon
¼ tsp. ground nutmeg
1½ tsp. salt
2 cups firmly packed shredded carrots
¾ cup chopped walnuts (optional)

• Lightly grease a 7-by-4-by-3-inch loaf pan with oil.
• In a small bowl, combine the oil, warm water, sugar and yeast. Stir once and set aside to proof until it bubbles, about 10 minutes.
• In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, arrowroot, xanthan gum, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt. Pour in the yeast mixture and, using a rubber spatula, stir until it is the consistency of cake batter. If the dough is too thick, add additional warm water one splash at a time. Fold in the carrots and the walnuts (if using). Pour the dough into the prepared loaf pan, cover with a dish towel, and let the dough rise for 1 hour.
• Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
• Bake the bread for 20 minutes, and then rotate the pan 180 degrees. Bake until the crust is golden and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 15 minutes.
• Let the bread cool in the pan for 1 hour before slicing.

Reprinted with permission from Clarkson Potter

What’s the most creative recipe you’ve used to accommodate someone’s dietary restrictions? Tell us in the comments below for a chance to win a copy of Erin McKenna’s Bread & Butter.

By Tori Sgarro

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One Response to “By the Book: Erin McKenna’s Carrot Bread”

  1. julie ridlon Says:
    April 24th, 2015 at 11:24 am

    not sure if my email wenegt through…..several years ago I catered a vegan/GF wedding where the corn risotto was finished and enriched with earthbalance non-dairy cream and butter. The beginniting of July is an opulent time in MO for produce.

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