Guest Post: Fennel-Carrot Loaves

{This is a guest post from Ashley Purser, a hand-lettering maven (check out her Etsy shop) AND she’s my sister! She’s amazing in the kitchen and wanted to share this recipe with you. While cooking has traditionally been seen as a love language, you can also take this time to indulge yourself. Get your hands dirty and make a sweet treat for those days when you just need a little love for YOU! Enjoy!}

Fennel-Carrot Loaves

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Itʼs that time of year! I love fall so much. Any season that says itʼs okay to pair flannel and boots with a sparkly necklace and glitter on your nails is fine with me!

One of my favorite things about the holidays, though, is all of the parties. The company, the food, the drinks, the games – I love it all! Another part of the holidays that just warms me up and makes my heart smile is the act of gift giving. I love the task of picking the perfect gift for each person… even if itʼs totally not what they asked for (Iʼm guilty of being the person who bypasses everything on your gift registry to get you something completely different).

That being said, there are some things that EVERYONE likes. Like food! With all of those party invites youʼll be receiving this year, itʼs nice to have some go-to recipes you
can whip up as simple hostess gifts. Who doesnʼt love getting a sweet little surprise?

These mini fennel-carrot loaves are perfect. Not too sweet and full of that warm fall flavor, theyʼre a wonderful alternative to all of the cookies and cakes that are abundant
on those holiday buffets.

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You will need:

2 1/2 cups all purpose flour

1 tablespoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup pine nuts

1/2 cup sugar, plus 1/2 cup

1 teaspoon fennel seeds

1/2 lemon, zested and juiced

1/2 small orange, zested and juiced*

2 cups peeled and diced carrots (5-6 large carrots)**

1/2 cup mascarpone cheese

1/2 cup butter

5 eggs

Notes:
*I love the flavors of orange and carrot together (if youʼve ever had orange carrot juice you know what Iʼm talkinʼ about!) so I add both orange and lemon when I make this. The original recipe calls for the zest and juice of one lemon only.
**Mine took about 4 1/2 carrots because they were gigantic. Just start chopping up 5 or so and save the leftovers for snacking or soups.

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

In a medium bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt. Set aside for later.

photo 1
In a food processor, pulse the pine nuts, half a cup of the sugar, and the fennel seeds until you have a fine powder. Add the zests and juices along with the diced carrots.

Pulse everything together until the carrots are very finely minced. Add the mascarpone cheese and pulse a couple times to combine. You should have a creamy mixture now.

In a separate bowl, cream the butter and remaining sugar. Add the eggs one at a time and blend.

Switch to a spatula now, adding the carrot mixture to the butter, sugar, and eggs. Add the dry ingredients in a few batches and stir until just combined and there are no
pockets of flour anywhere.

photo 2
Pour the mixture into 3-4 greased mini loaf pans. You want to fill them 3/4 of the way full or even a little more. I used 5 pans trying to stretch the loaves so I could get more gifts out of them, but I would not recommend this. The cakes donʼt rise too much while cooking so I ended up with pretty thin (while still tasty!) loaves. If you need more than 3 or 4 I would definitely suggest doing two batches.

Bake the loaves for 55-65 minutes, depending on your oven. Rotate them once during baking, especially if you know your oven cooks unevenly.

They are delicious straight out of the oven, but if you are using these as gifts, let them cool completely.

To serve, slice and top with powdered sugar.

Other serving possibilities: Toast up a slice and drizzle with a tiny bit of honey or spread with butter and/or jam. It makes for a fun special treat in the morning. They are just
perfect served with nothing on them with a hot cup of coffee though!

Iʼll be honest, my favorite part of making these lovely little loaves is not the baking, or even the eating. My joy comes from wrapping them up for the hostess! They look so
pretty wrapped in a little butcher paper and parchment paper, tied with some twine and a sweet note.

I hope you enjoy these delicious cakes and all of your holiday festivities! Iʼm getting excited just thinking about all of the memories that are still to come this year!

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