A few months ago I was browsing my bible, Jeffrey Hamelman’s Bread, like one does, when I came across his “Carrot and Walnut Bread” recipe. As he notes in the description, it’s a bit of an unusual one because carrots aren’t a common bread ingredient. He is thinking what you’re thinking, re, orange bread, but assures us that “the crumb reveals little suggestion of the presence of carrots, nor in fact does the flavor.”
I had a bunch of old carrots sitting in the fridge waiting to be thrown out, so I thought what the heck, and made the bread by adding 25% of grated carrots to the mix (he says to squeeze the water out of them, but I’m lazy so I just upped the carrot percentage and reduced the water in the recipe slightly). Much as Hamelman predicted, it turned out just fine, adding a little extra sweetness, a slightly softer crumb, and a slight ruddy brown tinge. But you would never guess it had carrots in it.
“What a great little hack to get rid of leftover carrots!” I thought, and happily started adding shredded carrots to various bread recipes whenever I had leftovers lying around.
Then I bought a parsnip at the farmer’s market and forgot about it. With no plans for it as it neared the end of its life in my crisper, a thought occurred. Into the food processor and then the dough it went, and out came…a really nice loaf of bread with an extra-soft crumb and just a tiny bit of earthiness and sweetness.
From there I went looking and found that this little veggie-saving practice is not particularly well known. There are, of course, recipes for sweet beet breads and spiced parnsip breads, but they’re all a little too try-hard if what you’re really after is a quick way to use leftovers in your everyday sandwich bread.
Lurking at the bottom of the search results, though, you find that there is a small community of people who know. From beets to potatoes and even a mix of whatever you got, you can just throw root veggies in your ordinary everyday bread, like they’re pumpkin seeds or something. The formula is usually the same, a high-hydration dough with about 25-30% of flour weight in veggies just thrown right in. And the result, according to one of the bloggers linked above?
Don’t worry if you think the finished loaf will be overwhelmed by the vegetables. There’s a hint of both sweetness and a savouriness, but no more than a hint. It’s a great loaf for slicing thin for sandwiches, or with a bowl of homemade soup.
So there you have it. I’m just doing my part to help you save the half-bag of carrots from the time you made soup, the turnips and celery roots that start to takeover the CSA box come fall, even the endless fucking kohlrabi nobody wants (I actually don’t know if this will work since they’re technically cabbages, but I’ll try some day) from dustbin doom.