Tag Archives: Quick Bread

Five-spice carrot bread

I know it’s cool to hate on pumpkin spice these days. Honestly, whatever. It’s a classic for a reason. I’m not mad at pumpkin spice. But if you are, I can suggest a spunkier substitute. Enter: Chinese five-spice.

I’ve fallen hard this year for Chinese five-spice in baked goods and holiday sweets. The exact ingredients vary, but most blends I’ve seen include cinnamon, clove, fennel seed, star anise, and either black pepper or Sichuan pepper. (Some versions include ginger instead of pepper, so look for those if pepper in your baked goods feels like a stretch.) It’s just close enough to the familiar American sweet-and-spicy thing to be comforting. But it’s also a little funky and unexpected, with a quiet kick of heat and licorice. In my experience, people won’t put their finger on the difference right away–they’ll assume it’s pumpkin spice with a mystery twist.

Lately our crisper drawer has been overrun with carrots–I keep forgetting we have them and buying more. So I’ve been making batches of carrot bread with a healthy dose of five-spice. This is a riff on my go-to zucchini bread recipe, and it works really nicely in a variety of guises–one big loaf, several mini-loaves, even muffins. Because carrots aren’t as watery as zucchini, I usually find myself adding a bit of milk or water to thin out the batter. Other than that, this is a pretty basic quickbread, but the five-spice makes it pop.

This bread is terrific baked just as-is, but for a special flourish, get yourself some raw sugar (also known as turbinado sugar, or demerara over in Europe) and sprinkle it over the top. I don’t know why, but it impresses people like you wouldn’t believe. I’ve had folks assume that this carrot bread came from a bakery, just because of the scattering of sugar crystals on top. It also adds a lovely crunch and a bit of extra sweetness. Highly recommend.

five-spice-carrot-bread

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Persimmon bread, and a Thanksgiving thought

It’s Dare to Eat a Peach’s first Thanksgiving!

Thanksgiving might be my favorite holiday. As my sister pointed out, it’s one of the few times in a year when we can be reasonably sure everyone else is doing the same thing we are. It’s a quintessentially American holiday, without the jingoism and the omnipresent hot dogs of, say, July 4th. It’s a pause for breath before the arrival of the juggernaut Christmas–a welcome moment of inclusiveness for heathens like me. It’s a celebration of food, family, and the remarkable bounty of the planet we live on. It’s a holiday transported far from its murky and oppressive historical roots–a welcome shift, I think–and, so far, the only major one that has stubbornly resisted commercialization. There are no Thanksgiving jingles in stores, and for that alone it is a glorious day.

But as a food blogger, I have to acknowledge something: Thanksgiving is driving us crazy.

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