Parsnip and Beet Bread with Cinnamon Yogurt Spread
In the middle of winter, most root vegetables are destined for a little olive oil, a few cloves of garlic, rosemary and then into the oven for roasting. But sometimes you want a little change. And what better kind of change than a sweet, flavorful bread?
Think of this recipe as winter’s answer to zucchini bread. Really you could just call this a root vegetable cake.
Using parsnips to sweeten food is an old practice, it’s just that in a world where sugar is ridiculously cheap, it’s a practice of which we have lost the habit. Parsnips were commonly used as a sweetener in Medieval Europe, when sugar and honey were rare and far too expensive for regular use, and they were a staple root vegetable in Europe before the potato came over from the New World.
Over the centuries they have lost their staple status, and today, parsnips aren’t really an ingredient most people are used to cooking and baking with. If you’re a little intimated by the parsnip, this bread is a good place to start. And for those of you who are well versed on the parsnip, you’ll love it too. It’s a root vegetable cake after all!
I’ve made this version gluten-free, and because I find that the buckwheat gives it a hearty, earthy flavor, but you can also make it with organic whole wheat flour. Your loaf will end up a little fluffier.
Instead of slathering the slices in butter (which would also be tasty), I made a cinnamon yogurt spread, with thick, strained yogurt. I find that the easiest way to make strained yogurt – also known as labneh, a common dish in the Middle Eastern kitchen – is to use a paper coffee filter. Put the filter in a coffee cone or other pour over brewing device (I’ve done it in a Chemex), add the yogurt and strain away. Just be sure to pour hot water in the coffee filter first to get rid of the “paper” taste. You can also strain the yogurt by lining a mesh or stainless steel strainer with cheesecloth or a coffee filter.
Parsnip and Beet Bread
Makes: 1 loaf
-You want about 1/2 pound (8 ounces, 225 grams) total of grated beets and parsnips, so you can adjust accordingly depending on the size of the beets and parsnips you have at your disposal. The recipe also works well with all parsnips, and while I haven’t tried a version with all beets, I am sure that would be great as well.
-You can replace the buckwheat flour and rice flour with 1 1/2 cups (4 ounces, 113 grams) organic whole wheat flour if you don’t want a gluten-free version.
1 cup (4.25 ounces, 120 grams) buckwheat flour
1/2 cup (2.5 ounces, 70 grams) brown rice flour
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
Dash of black pepper
1/4 cup (60 milliliters) olive oil
3 tablespoons honey
1/2 cup (120 milliliters) plain organic yogurt
Zest of one medium-sized orange
1 medium-sized parsnip (about 160 grams), grated – equals about 2 cups grated
1 medium-sized beet (about 65 grams), grated – equals about 3/4 cup grated
1/2 cup (2.5 ounces, 70 grams) currants
1/2 cup (2.25 ounces, 65 grams) walnuts (optional)
Preheat the oven to 375ºF (190ºC). Grease and flour a loaf pan (for this recipe, I grease with a little olive oil and flour with rice flour).
In a large bowl, mix the dry ingredients.
In a separate bowl, whisk the egg, then add the honey, olive oil, yogurt and orange zest and whisk until smooth. Add the wet mixture to the dry ingredients, along with the grated parsnips and beets, currants and walnuts. Fold all the ingredients together, then spoon batter into the prepared bread loaf pan (8 1/2 x 4 1/2 inches).
Bake for 40 to 45 minutes, until a knife inserted into center of loaf comes out clean. Remove from oven and let cool before removing from loaf pan.
Cinnamon Yogurt Spread
1 cup (240 milliliters) plain organic yogurt
2 to 3 teaspoons honey, or more if you want it sweeter
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Strain the yogurt for about an hour.
With a fork, mix in the honey until well blended, then add in the cinnamon.
Place in a sealable jar and store in the refrigerator.
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