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No-knead Cranberry Walnut Carrot Bread

carrot-bread

Have you watched the Food Network show Chopped? I’m sort of slightly addicted. When I’m at college, I only have cable at the gym so the amount of TV I watch is limited to how long I’m willing to run, aka not that long. Now that it’s summer break I’ve developed this horrible habit of getting home from work, microwaving whatever food I cooked the night before, plopping my ass on the couch, and letting Food Network run in the background while I browse the internet on my laptop. 90% of the time this means watching Chopped.

The premise of the show is that four competitor chefs compete for three rounds (one chef is eliminated per round), where they have limited time to create an appetizer, entrée, and then dessert using “basket ingredients”. Each round has a different basket, but this usually means 3-4 unrelated and unusual ingredients. Sometimes the chefs absolutely kill it and create beautiful dishes and meals, and other times the clock or ingredients get the better of them.

While I am far too unqualified to ever compete in a show like Chopped, I am a huge fan of its premise, and am constantly trying to incorporate unusual ingredients into the foods I make. Mostly for fun (see sweet potato brownies)…and sometimes due to impulsive purchases. This carrot bread is because of the latter.

One day I found myself driving home from Trader Joe’s with a bottle of carrot juice, and a craving for a carrot cake smoothie. I made the smoothie (it was pretty good), and put the remaining juice in the fridge, only to find it a week and a half later when I was scrum-aging for ketchup. I didn’t want to let it spoil, and I had recently begun a no knead bread kick, so I decided that although I had never heard of yeasted carrot bread, it would probably taste alright. Turns out someone had the idea before me, and yeah, it’s a delicious combination!

If you’re not already a confident bread maker, my recommendation would be to learn how to make no knead bread before proceeding with carrot bread. No knead bread only has 4 ingredients (flour, water, salt, yeast), so it’s super cheap to make, but the dough can be a bit finicky so it’s best to develop some intuition before spending money on extra ingredients such as walnuts and carrot juice.

I kept the bread savory and didn’t add any sweetener besides the naturally sweet carrot juice, but I think an eight to quarter cup of brown sugar, either added at the beginning or folded in before baking would be delicious. Lastly, you can add the walnuts and cranberries with the initial ingredients, which is what I did, but they’ll absorb water and lost their chew and crunch. For this reason I recommend adding them later.

No Knead Carrot Walnut Cranberry Bread

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups bread flour [400g] (I used all purpose. ymwv)
  • 1 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp instant yeast
  • 1 1/2 cups freshly squeezed carrot juice
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • 3/4 cup roasted walnuts
  • (optional: 1/4 tsp cinnamon)

Baking process:

Combine in a large bowl:

  • 3 cups bread flour [400g] (I used all purpose. ymwv)
  • 1 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp instant yeast
  • 1 1/2 cups freshly squeezed carrot juice
  • (optional: 1/4 tsp cinnamon)

Stir together until a shaggy dough forms. The dough should be moist, but have some shape. Add a few tablespoons of water if the dough looks dry.

Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and set on a warm counter to rise for 12-18 hours. It should double in size and be dotted with bubbles.

Deflate the dough by folding in:

  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • 3/4 cup roasted walnuts

Flour a flat surface. Scoop the dough onto the flat surface and folding the edges of the dough to the center to create a ball.

Wash out the bowl used originally, and grease with a thin layer of oil or cooking spray. Place the dough ball seam-side down into the bowl, cover with a towel, and let rise for 1-2 additional hours.

Half an hour before baking, place a 4-5 quart dutch oven on the center rack of your oven and preheat to 450 degrees.

After 30 minutes, gently dump the dough into the dutch oven (seam-side should now be on the top), and cover the dutch oven with its lid. Bake for 25 minutes, remove the dutch-oven lid,and bake for 10-20 minutes more. The crust should be dark golden bread.

Cool on a wire rack and serve with cinnamon butter or cream cheese.