19 October 2008

Road Scholars' Carrot Cake-ish

Back when I had two little girls who could still fit all their school books into their pink and purple backpacks, we used to pack up our school and go on road trips with my parents whenever we could. We've done so much school on interstates that my daddy started calling us Road Scholars. (We called him our guest lecturer because he always had interesting stuff to add to our lessons.)

I often took loaves of this carrot cake on those trips, pre-sliced and wrapped in foil, because it keeps everyone satisfied between meal stops and all but eliminates the temptations (and expense!) of junk food at truck stops. Daddy used to start dropping broad hints about how good it was about a week before our departures, and then he'd show up all hopeful with his ancient green thermos full of hot coffee.

Ahh, those were amazing years. When God gives you fleeting chances to do great things, by all means do them.

I'm never sure whether to call this stuff carrot cake or carrot bread. Hence cake-ish. Terrific stuff to have handy, at home or on the road. Stellar with good hot coffee mid-afternoon. If there's any left over next day, we toast it slightly and spread on a little cream cheese for breakfast or teatime. Delightful, that.

Road Scholars' Carrot Cake-ish

3/4 to 1 cup sugar
1 1/4 cup water
1 cup raisins
2 cups finely grated carrots (4 medium large)
1 T butter
1 1/2 tsp ground cloves
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

1 cup chopped nuts (pecans or walnuts)
1 1/4 cups whole wheat flour
1 1/8 cups all purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt (optionsl)

Combine first 8 ingredients in a saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Cover the pan and let the mixture rest for 12 hours on the stovetop.*

Combine remaining ingredients, and add to the carrot mixture after it has rested for 12 hours. Stir just enough to combine the ingredients and no more!

Divide batter into two oiled loaf pans, about 9 X 5 X 3 inches. Bake in a preheated 275 degree oven for one hour and ten minutes. (I find that it needs the full cooking time.)

Freezes fairly well, but I've never frozen it for longer than a month. Frankly, I can't imagine why you would put off eating it that long.

*Yes, this resting step is rather odd, but it makes a big difference and you don't want to skip it. It infuses the carrots and raisins with incredible flavor and greatly improves their texture. Plus, this quirky little step makes these loaves so easy to make for breakfast for company-- get the dry ingredients together and let the carrot/spice mixture rest overnight, then bake it in the morning. Your guests will wake up to an amazing, spicy, homey aroma wafting through your house!

~adapted from Jane Brody's Good Food Book

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