Hearty and full of flavor, this is one of my go-to casseroles when the summer heat subsides. No cinnamon, nutmeg or other typical fall spices, but a fruit-filled bread, full of texture and full of natural sweetness from baked cherries, carrots and raisins. I can’t resist slicing it while it’s still warm from the oven, with a dollop of butter or a little coconut oil. . . but the next day it’s even better.
About a week ago, I was overcome with relief when I realized it was my third morning in a row drinking my coffee on the porch. Without realizing it, my cat and I were once again enjoying time on the porch, something we had both missed all summer, while the temperatures and humidity made us feel like we had descended into one of Dante’s worst levels of hell.
Granted, Zulu (my cat) and I go out early these days, like before dawn, but oh: those 70’s mornings are good medicine. When you’re no longer woken up by the constant metallic rattles and groans of the air conditioning motors, the quiet morning sitting on the porch is back. And at the risk of further anthropomorphizing, I think that everything from quadrupeds to bipeds to winged and pinnipeds is waking up and moving a little happier and less stressed thanks to the nicer weather.
Now that the heat has subsided, I’m hopeful. And I celebrated yesterday by turning on my oven and baking this bread. It’s another addition to your collection of transitional recipes from summer into fall, when the afternoons are still getting too warm for anything too cozy.
But this bread really belongs in the “anytime” category. It’s fresh and bright enough for spring, earthy enough for fall, and delicious enough for all times in between. It is baked long and low at 325°. So when you make it first thing in the morning, you don’t feel like you’ve contributed to the ever-increasing heat of early September, which continues to increase until lunchtime. It is also ideal for giving as a gift. So make a double batch and make someone happy.
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The taste is different from what you would expect from a carrot, raisin and coconut bread. I credit the cherries for providing some high notes and single-handedly elevating the flavor from anything you may have had before. Over the years I tend to eat the cherries a little more hearty and the raisins a little lighter, but that’s just my preference. The warmer the weather, the more cherries I pack into my quarter cup measure. It bakes deep brown on the outside and is bright and golden on the inside thanks to the colorful cherries and carrots.
I’m sure this bread will be right up your alley, whether you’re like me and are just getting a little taste of the upcoming fall or if the cooler temperatures have already arrived on your doorstep. It’s certainly one of my favorites.
1 1/4 cup flour
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup milk
1/4 cup oil
1/2 cup unsweetened coconut
1 cup grated, peeled carrot
1/4 cup chopped sweet cherries
1/4 cup raisins
1/4 cup chopped walnuts or pecans
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.
Mix the first five dry ingredients – flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder and salt – in a medium to large mixing bowl.
Mix milk, oil and eggs together then add to dry mixture. Stir until everything is incorporated.
Add coconut, carrots, chopped cherries, raisins and nuts.
Mix thoroughly and then pour into an oiled loaf pan.
Bake for 55 minutes or until top is fully baked.
*This recipe can be doubled for two loaves.
Flour: This is a great bread if you want to experiment with non-traditional, non-wheat based flour. I’ve been on a sorghum kick lately, so I used 1 cup sprouted sorghum flour and 1/2 cup King Arthur’s gluten-free Measure for Measure baking mix. If you make it without gluten, it will be crumbly, but the heartiness makes up for it.
Cherries: I basically use frozen cherries in this bread that need to be thawed. You can certainly use them fresh, but they are not always easy to find. If using frozen, let it thaw, then squeeze out the water and blot with a paper towel. If you want, you can replace it with blueberries, but try using cherries too. They are delicious!
oil: I prefer avocado oil in this recipe, but coconut oil or any other neutral oil will work fine too.
dairy: My friend, an experienced gluten- and dairy-free baker, says it’s important to offset the loss of fat and protein when substituting cow’s milk in a recipe. Full-fat coconut milk takes care of the fat, but not the protein.
This recipe uses eggs, so protein is already present, but I’ve been experimenting lately with adding a tablespoon of collagen powder to my dairy-free baked goods. . . and I think I’m on the trail! If you want to try it, stir it into the wet ingredients before adding it to the flour mixture.
Although both baking powder and baking soda are used in this recipe, baking soda works slightly better if you’re trying to maintain the momentum of your dairy-free baked goods. The reason? Baking soda does not require acidic ingredients like cow’s milk to activate it as a leavening agent like baking soda does. If you’d rather substitute a non-dairy milk in your favorite baked goods, here’s the formula for converting baking soda to baking soda: one part baking soda to two parts cream of tartar.
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