Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Bread and Coffee



This morning I pegged the washing on the line under a faultless blue sky, a breeze throwing my hair about and warm May sunshine falling on my shoulders. Blackbirds nesting under the eves shook their feathers out and stood on the roof calling to each other insistently as their babies cheeped from the dark space under the tiles. Harry the neighbour's cat stretched as luxuriously on the sun warmed stones as if they had been a feather bed and went to the pond to have a drink - or terrorise the fish.

As much as I wanted any excuse to linger in the garden and soak up such a perfect morning, I also wanted some bread. Something to slice and smother, a loaf of something to wrap and keep for a moment of peckishness later in the day.

So I headed blinking into the dark cool kitchen and stirred up a quick loaf with some pecan meal and grated carrots - I guess it's like a nutty carrot cake without all the spices and sugar. This loaf has the kind of nuttiness and depth that makes me think of malted breakfast cereal. It's moist and sweet without actually being sweet, the way that roasted vegetables acquire that dark caramelised sweetness that sits perfectly well with some cheese or a slick of honey - somewhere in between sweet and savoury.

As I pulled the loaf out of the oven and inhaled that deep roasted nut scent, I was overwhelmed with a desire for some black coffee. I'll put that in context for you - I've not drunk coffee for about four or five years now after I found it gave me palpitations and could only be consumed with a hefty dose of sherry or brandy (as the Spanish do) to moderate the adrenaline rush. Now, believing that this was no way for mummy to start the day, I dutifully struck it from my repertoire of beverages and merely breathed the coffeeish air around Nick's morning cup, but swallowed nothing darker than weak tea.

With a giddy feeling not unlike walking right at the edge of a cliff on a windy day, I set the kettle on the stove and poured out a steaming, creamy espresso and stirred in a spoonful of honey; eased two thick slices of warm bread onto a lovely plate and stepped into the sunshine. It was delicious! Yes I felt the caffeine course through me and may need a stiff chamomile before bed tonight, but it was worth it. This bread sings with coffee.

Pecan Carrot Bread



7oz Peeled and grated carrots (I used half squash half carrot), peeled weight
8oz Pecan nut meal (or grind your own)
4oz Organic butter
3 Large organic eggs
1 tsp Honey
Pinch salt
Good squeeze of lemon
1 tsp Bicarbonate of soda
2 tsp Cream of tartar (2 tsp cider vinegar for SCD)

Preheat the oven to 160C fan assisted (175 without fan) place a tray of water in the bottom of the oven to make a steamy atmosphere. Line a small (1lb) loaf tin with greaseproof paper and have the ends drape over the sides - makes it easier to lift out. Grease any unlined areas.

whiz the butter in a food processor with 2 tbs of the pecan meal, honey and bicarb. Separate the eggs and add yolks one at a time, processing until the mixture is pale and fluffy.

In a scrupulously clean bowl beat the egg whites, cream of tartar or vinegar, lemon juice and salt into stiff peaks.

Mix together grated carrots, pecan meal and butter mix. Gently stir in about half of the egg whites and then carefully fold in the rest, trying to keep as much of the air as possible.

Spoon into the tin and smooth the surface. Bake for 60-75 minutes until deep golden brown and firm to the touch - err on the side of over baking as it will be moist inside. Cool in the tin for 10 minutes and then remove with the paper still attached and cool completely on a rack. Remove the paper carefully using a knife when cold. Wrap in greaseproof and store in an airtight container for up to two days or slice and freeze immediately.