I got to know about Belinda Jeffery from one of the food bloggers I’m following on Instagram. (Sorry I couldn’t find the thread and which food blogger where she was mentioned.) Anyway this particular blogger talked about how Belinda Jeffery’s baking recipes are her go-to. It got me intrigued and curious. Naturally, I looked up Belinda’s website and went through her recipes.
Belinda’s Spicy Pumpkin, Pecan and Raisin Loaf caught my eye (which I thought gingerbread loaf would make a fun name instead). Among all the recipes on her site, this was the one I have MOST of the ingredients on hand. Sometimes I picked a recipe based on the ingredients I already have instead of how delicious (or attractive) it looks on the picture. Do you do that too?
What I’ve missing was pumpkin and raisins. So I’ve tweaked the recipe by substituting pumpkin with carrots and raisin with dates (as suggested in the original recipe).
The beauty of baking a loaf rich in aromatic spices like cinnamon, ground ginger is it makes the kitchen smell like a candle store when it is about to finish baking. Even my beloved who is usually clueless about what I made in the kitchen, walked out of the bedroom just to tell me how amazing it smells in the oven. That counts for something right?
The batter for the loaf is runnier than the usual loaf recipes I’ve used, which takes about an hour to bake ( FYI – I took it out a minute earlier from the oven as I can smell the pecan on the verge of over-roasted). When I took it out from the oven, my initial thought was it looks a lot like a rich chocolate loaf. Good sign number 1 eh? But what you ended up with is a deep dark, moist, caramelly and aromatic loaf that I would describe as a cake version of Gingerbread man cookies. The dates really add the “toffee” flavor and fudgy texture to the loaf whereas the crunch and nuttiness of pecan balances the spongy texture of the loaf. In short, this loaf is spectacular. Case in point the fact that I have eaten almost half of the loaf within the first 20 minutes of it leaving the oven! Self-control much?
Gingerbread Loaf with Carrot, Pecan and Dates
(Tweaked from Belinda Jeffery’s recipe)
Ingredients to make one standard sized loaf:-
- 1 cup (160g) organic spelt flour
- 1 cup (220g) firmly-packed dark brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
- 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1 cup (170g) chopped dates
- 1 cup (140g) roasted pecans, roughly chopped
- 1 1/2 cups carrots (about 2 medium sized carrots), coarsely grated & squeezed the excess liquid
- 2 eggs
- 1/3 cup (80ml) light olive oil
- 1/2 cup (125ml) milk
- 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- Extra sliced pecans, for topping
- Icing sugar, for dusting *optional*
Preheat oven to 180C/350F. Line a 23cm (9-inch)-by-13cm (5-inch) loaf pan with baking paper and the area that is not covered by the baking paper, grease the surface with some olive oil. In a large bowl, use a fork to mix together the flour, brown sugar, bicarbonate of soda, cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg.
Do this in a “mashing” motion until most of the lumps in the sugar disappear (it’s ok if there are some small lumps). Add in the chopped dates, chopped pecans and grated carrots (after squeezing out the excess liquid) and toss them about so they’re well-coated in the mixture.
In a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs, oil, milk and vanilla extract until they’re smooth and creamy. Pour this egg mixture into the flour mixture and stir them together until they’re well combined. Scrape the batter into the prepared tin, smooth it out and sprinkle sliced pecans over the top.
Bake the loaf for an hour or until a fine skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean. Cool the loaf in the tin on a wire rack for 8 minutes, then gently loosen around the sides before transferring to a rack to cool completely.
To learn more about Belinda Jeffery and her recipes, please visit http://www.belindajeffery.com.au.