This week we return to the ever present carrot, though in beautiful shades of red and purple rather than the commonly seen bright orange. Each differing colour not only presents a stunning picture for the eye, but changes the nutritional values: orange carrots are the highest in beta-carotene, which the body converts to vitamin A. Purple carrots are rich in anthocyanins, a powerful antioxidant. Red carrots are highest in lycopene, like tomatoes. Yellow carrots are full of lutein, important in eye health. Derived from the wild carrot, which has ivory coloured roots, they form a veritable rainbow of healthy, and just as importantly delicious, options for eating.
It's Easter already, all about those (weird but fun traditions of) pastel coloured eggs, carrot munching bunnies, and a tie between hidden chocolates and the seasons favourite- spiced and sweet hot cross buns. In deference to the holiday and the season, and because the wafting scents of cinnamon, nutmeg, and orange are worth it alone, I've made a big batch of said buns... with a bit of a twist. These buns are made with those intoxicating spices and citrus, but also feature spelt flour, grated carrot and apple, and naturally sweet dried fruit, without the usual sugar suspect. I would usually use a sourdough starter, but have used yeast so that everyone is able to make their own, regardless of baking prowess. I guarantee they're a scrumptious departure from your grannies recipe, just begging to be eaten warm with a big mug of hot coffee or tea.
500g (roughly 3 cups) of Spelt Flour
3 tablespoons Honey or Maple Syrup
240ml (about 1 cup) Coconut Milk, warmed
1 tablespoon Coconut Oil, melted
7g/2 teaspoons Yeast
1 teaspoon Sea Salt
1 tablespoon Ground Flaxseed
1 teaspoon Cinnamon Powder
1 teaspoon Mixed Spice
1 teaspoon Ground Ginger
1/2 teaspoon Nutmeg
1 Orange, zested
2 medium Carrots, finely grated
1 Apple, finely grated
200g dried fruit- such as chopped Dates or Apricots, Sultanas, Cherries
Optional: 1/3 cup Walnuts, chopped
The How To:
In a large mixing bowl dissolve the yeast in warm coconut milk, with melted coconut oil and the honey or maple syrup. Add flour, salt, flaxseed, spices and orange zest. Mix well, then knead until a smooth dough forms. Add the grated carrot, apple, dried fruit and nuts, then knead just to distribute the additions evenly throughout the dough. Lightly oil a bowl, pop the dough in, and cover with damp tea towel or large beeswax wrap. Place in a warm spot until the dough has risen and doubled in size, about 1 1/2-2 hours. Grease or line two baking trays. Punch the dough down and divide into 12 pieces. With lightly oiled hands, form each piece into a ball, then place on baking tray. Cover the trays loosely with the damp tea towel and allow to rise for second time, until roughly doubled in size again, about 45-60 minutes. Preheat your oven to 200•. You can brush the tops of the buns with a milk or egg wash, but it's not necessary. Bake for around 20 minutes, until they are golden brown and difficult to resist. Remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly. Serve warm as are, or slather in butter or jam.
-Leftover buns are yummy toasted, and can easily be frozen whole in an airtight container, then removed and toasted when desired.
-Since I usually make these as sourdough buns, I skip the crosses; the X is made from a simple slurry of water and flour, which unlike the rest of the dough hasn't been fermented or soaked. If they're simply not buns without a cross, feel free to pipe them on before baking. You could also make a quick frosting from cream cheese or cashews and pipe it on after!
Created by Elena Keir of Naked Cakes and Wholefoods