Carrot Breakfast Loaf

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Spring may be around the corner, and the temperatures are rising, but snow still covers the ground. To embrace the winter that remains, my boyfriend, Chris, and I are headed up north for the weekend to give dog sledding a try. With his love for dogs and my love for new experiences, it feels like the ideal way to get out of the house after a long, cooped up winter. 

We rented a rustic log cabin in the woods, with hopes to snowshoe along snowy tree-lined paths, relax in the sauna after the sun has set, and cuddle near a log fire before bed. The "rustic" nature of the cabin is realโ€”with an outhouse and wood stove for heat, it will be an adventure just to keep ourselves warm in freezing temperatures. Even though there are hotels nearby, I campaigned for the cabin because we will be more likely to remember this experience (for better or for worse) years from now.

Isn't that what life is aboutโ€”making memories?

With the weekend drawing near, I spent time in the kitchen baking up dishes to pack. When I was testing out the recipe for this carrot breakfast loaf, I really enjoyed how the natural sweetness of the carrot emerges. Along with the addition of raisins, coconut flakes, and walnuts, the hearty bread plays off the flavors of a carrot cake.

With a handful of granola bars and a loaf of this carrot bread, I hope to keep well fed for breakfast, with enough energy for a long day of mushing (and dog petting).

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This Carrot Breakfast Loaf is a play off of the traditional carrot cake. The sweetness of the carrot complements the warm spices of cinnamon and nutmeg to create this spiced bread. Coconut flakes, raisins, and chopped walnuts are added to give the loaf additional flavor and texture. Serve each slice with a thick layer of butter and enjoy. 

One Year Ago: Oatmeal Fudge Bars
Two Years Ago: Traditional Challah
Three Years Ago: Blackberry Coconut Scones
Four Years Ago: Peanut Butter Chocolate Frosted Cake & Orange Coconut Pull-Apart Bread 
Five Years Ago:  Chocolate Oatmeal Muffins, Chocolate Oatmeal Raisin Cookies, & Coconut Whipped Cream
Six Years Ago: Chocolate Caramel Crispy Bars, Tropical Banana Bread, Strawberry Balsamic Jam, & Strawberry Oat Bars
Seven Years Ago: Vanilla Almond Cupcakes, Banana Pudding, Devil's Food Cake, & Flourless Peanut Butter Cookies

Carrot Breakfast Loaf

Yields 9 x 5-inch loaf

3/4 cup (150 grams) brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup (120 mL) vegetable oil
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup (120 grams) all-purpose flour
1 cup (120 grams) whole wheat flour
1/2 cup (125 mL) milk
1 1/2 cups (150 grams) peeled, shredded carrots
1/3 cup (53 grams) raisins
1/4 cup (30 grams) coconut flakes
1/2 cup (60 grams) chopped walnuts, plus extra for topping
1 tablespoon demerara or raw sugar, optional

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C). Grease a 9 x 5-inch loaf pan and set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, beat together the brown sugar, vegetable oil, eggs, and vanilla until uniform. Stir in the spices, baking powder, baking soda, salt, flours, and milk until smooth. Stir in the carrots, raisins, coconut flakes, and chopped walnuts.

Pour batter into prepared loaf pan and level. Sprinkle the top with demerara sugar and additional chopped walnuts, if desired. Bake for 45-50 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

Carrot Almond Muffins

Two months after my move to the city, I have settled into the new routines of everyday life. The daily commute, the neighborhood, and the apartment kitchen have a familiarity about them that only time can bring, but the intimacies end there. It feels like I'm on an extended vacation (but I'm not sure where I am on a vacation from). After moving so often between cities and countries during my twenties, I'm finding it harder to grow an attachment to each new location, to put in the effort to make connections and dig down roots.

I call this place home, but I'm not sure I believe it yet.

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The most difficult adjustment has been the early morning rise. When the alarm buzzes at 5:40 am, I groggily pull myself out of bed and go through the motions, but my pace is slow and my mind is still back in bed, resting under the sheets. To ease into the day, I do as much as I can the evening before. Breakfast, especially in the form of a reheated muffin, feels like a lifesaver in those pre-dawn hours.

With a cup of coffee in hand, I make it out the door on time, ready to start another day. 

Carrot Almond Muffins are spiced with cinnamon and nutmeg to bring out flavors of autumn. The muffins rely on brown sugar and the natural sweetness of the carrot to bring a warmth to the flavor. Chopped almonds, mixed into the batter and sprinkled over the top, provide a hearty texture. Layered with butter or chocolate hazelnut spread, these muffins can improve any morning, no matter how early or late your morning begins.

One Year Ago: Chocolate Hazelnut Spread and Espresso Chocolate Coffee Cake
Two Years Ago: Honeyed Apricot Granola Bars and Chocolate Banana Chip Cookies
Three Years Ago: Caramelized Leek Biscuits, Zucchini Chocolate Chip Muffins, Cinnamon Rolls Cookies, Bourbon Peach Jam, Whole Wheat Chocolate Chip Scones, and Brown Butter Pear Muffins
Four Years Ago: Lemon Blueberry Scones, 3 Milk Coconut Cake, Garden Tomato Tart, and Whole Wheat Irish Soda Bread
Five Years Ago: Strawberry Shortcake, Chocolate Raspberry Oatmeal MuffinsBrown Sugar Coconut Bubble Tea, and Whole Wheat Banana Pancakes

Carrot Almond Muffins

Yields 1 dozen muffins

3/4 cup (150 grams) brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup (120 mL) vegetable oil
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup (120 grams) all-purpose flour
1 cup (113 grams) whole wheat flour
1/2 cup (120 mL) milk
1 1/2 cups (150 grams) peeled, shredded carrots
3/4 cup (110 grams) almonds, coarsely chopped & divided

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C). Line a muffin tin with baking cups.

In a large mixing bowl, beat together the brown sugar, vegetable oil, egg, and vanilla until uniform. Stir in the spices, baking powder, baking soda, salt, flours, and milk until smooth. Stir in the carrots and 2/3 of the chopped almonds.

Divide batter evenly between the baking cups and sprinkle tops with the remaining 1/3 of the chopped almonds. Bake for 18-22 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.