There is a off-beat joke circulating around my group of colleagues about my Asian-ness. Apparently, I become more and more Asian, the more I collaborate with them, as if their Chinese + Filipino heritage is rubbing off on me. This is clearly something that is discernible only to them, because, around our house, I still feel quite Italian/German. (Even though in Europe many people think I’m French. Go figure.)
So, this Asian-ness. Purportedly, the more Asian I become, the more second-nature it will be for me to perfectly wash + rinse rice, to feel the grains, and to cultivate a perfectly steamed batch. This ‘ness imparts a deep magnetism towards umami. And, makes my culinary intuition more round with a greater appreciation for all things salty. At least, this is what they say. I’m not sure about any of this; I still get nervous that I’m not adding enough water to our tremendous rice batches, even though I am getting better and better at feeling the rice, watching for shiny perfect grains and a nice bite through the steaming process. I have noticed that I’m enjoying salt quite a bit more these days, but I’m not so sure about the rounder culinary intuition….what I am noticing is that I’m drawn to more exotic flavors and techniques than I have been in a while, and when I get my mind-set on doing something creative in the kitchen, I just can’t rest until we get to sit down and eat it.
This past week, I finally broke back into my kitchen with reckless abandon after weeks away. It’s wonderful to be back. It’s still quite early here in Colorado for lots of exotic vegetables, the carrots around here are perfect and so I may have bought more than I really wanted to carry home in my bike basket the other night. That knob of ginger I tucked away for safe keeping before I left was right where I had stored it. And, I was really pleased to have them both when I pulled this month’s Bon Appetit magazine out of the pile of “must read/must cook” papers I keep in a basket on my desk. An inspirational little version of this carrot cake would not leave me alone until I baked it and so, I took a quick trip to the store (just as the doors were closing for the night) and scooped up some black sesame seeds. Magically, we were eating slices of this carrot bread by morning.
I’ve made a few good tweaks from the original and, in truth I might be a smidge early in sharing this recipe with you as I’d like to tweak it a bit more for my purposes, but it’s really quite good already, so here it is in hopes that you might be inspired to make it your own. I absolutely love the way that the carrots, and black sesame seeds bounce around with lovely balance of spices in this moist and unexpected bread; the flavors are sweet, but not too sweet, and pair very nicely with more savory items. We tossed moist hunks of this loaf into bowls of Chinese porridge stacked high with steamed sesame spinach, scrambled eggs, shredded pork, grilled red peppers and all manner of Chinese pickles and jams. Everything played together really swimmingly.
Anything delicious or exotic in particular that you found in your “to do/to cook” pile? I’d love to hear what’s cooking up for you all this summer! xo – L
- non-stick coconut spray
- 1 1/2 cups organic unbleached all purpose flour
- 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp finely ground sea salt
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp freshly ground nutmeg
- 3/4 cup organic granulated sugar
- 1/3 cup packed brown sugar
- 1/2 cup canola oil or grapeseed oil
- 1/3 cup unsweetened applesauce
- 1/4 cup unsweetened almond milk or other milk of choice
- 2 tsp finely ground ginger
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- 3 medium carrots (about 8oz) peeled + coarsely grated
- 2-3 Tbsp black sesame seeds
- adapted from Bon Appetit's Black Sesame Carrot Cake recipe, June 2014
- Preheat oven to 350°.
- Coat a 8x4” loaf pan with nonstick spray, and line with parchment paper. Set aside.
- In a medium sized bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg.
- In a separate, large-sized bowl, whisk together the granulated sugar, brown sugar, oils, applesauce, almond milk, ginger, and vanilla. Gradually whisk in dry ingredients, then fold in carrots (be careful not to overmix). Scrape batter into prepared pan; smooth top and sprinkle with black sesame seeds.
- Bake cake until a tester inserted into the center comes out clean, 75–85 minutes. Transfer pan to a wire rack and let bread cool completely in pan before turning out. Once completely cool, lift out the parchment paper (like a little sling,) then slice and eat!
- This quick bread can be made 3 days ahead. Store wrapped tightly at room temperature.