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Love a loaf

Apple and carrot paleo loaf

Yep. I’m that person.

Cooking for a gluten free, dairy free, refined sugar free, grain free, yin yoga retreat in Provence?

SURE. Paleo is my middle name.

It was a challenging spec for me: we eat a lot of grains at home, hardly any meat, not that much fish, and an abundance of cheese. But GTF, the yoga guru, was persuasive, logical and clear in her support for what is essentially a paleo diet - seasonal vegetables, salads and fresh fruits in abundance, animal protein with every meal, nuts, seeds, olive oil, and the occasional refined sugar free treat.

I was happy to give it a try.

Hours of brain storming, many a spreadsheet, an IMMENSE shop at the local market (I could barely get all of it in the car along with the three month old baby and accompanying baby sitter/man friend), a giant online order from the local Casino Geant, (a supermarket, not a gambling haven) and I was ready to go.

Everything went down pretty well (besides the smoked mackerel and beetroot dishes, which proved to be love or hate marmite types), but the daily teatime loaves came in as the real stars. In fact, as I always had them ready in time for brunch, they were usually gobbled up well before teatime. Gratifying. Especially as they were turned out in EXTREME conditions.

GTF’s blissful provençale residence is irresistibly charming, but I wasn’t quite prepared for how vintage the kitchen would be. I’d done a pretty thorough equipment list in advance, but somehow my request for measuring cups and spoons got lost somewhere along the way. When I arrived I presumed that some trusty kitchen scales would make up for it. Lesson 1 - NEVER presume. There were no scales. I’d also been sent a photo of the resident electric mixer. Lesson 2 - Small things don’t look small in photos. It turned out the magimix was half size, which was less than ideal when cooking for ten. Don’t even talk to me about cauliflower rice. I also requested a handheld whisk on arrival, which I thought would come in handy. Lesson 3 - always be SPECIFIC. Yes, I meant an electric handheld whisk. ELECTRIC.

Pretty much your perfect baking nightmare.

The beauty of a nutty/fruity loaf is that, unlike with other baking, you can afford to be slightly approximative. Once I’d picked out a mug that looked to me to be roughly the same size as a baking cup, and a teaspoon sized teaspoon, I was pretty much set.

Here’s my recipe for an apple, carrot and walnut loaf. Sweetened with raw honey, gluten free, packed with nutritious almonds and walnuts, antioxidant spices and vitamin rich fruit and veg, it’s about as healthy as a cake can get, while staying pretty tasty. Hope you’ll agree.

In case you’re interested, the other loaves I rustled up were: gluten free banana bread, courgette, pistachio and date loaf, and a very decadent beetroot and cocoa brownie (which even those who claim not to like beetroot devoured). Other brunch and dinner dishes included: moroccan spiced chicken, aubergine with tahini and pomegranate, shakshuka, turkey burgers, green bean, olive and preserved lemon salad, gluten free crumble, vegan millionaires shortbread, banana and cocoa frozen mousse…all of which are either already paleo or easily adapted to be so.

Et en français...

Apple and carrot paleo loaf

Makes 1 loaf, 20 minutes active time

Apple and carrot loaf

A simple enough loaf for breakfasts and tea time, jammed full of goodness. Serve slightly warmed, with a spoonful of almond or peanut butter if you want to jazz things up.

* Ground almonds - 1.5 cup

* Rolled oats (gluten free if necessary) - 1 cup

* Chickpea or wholewheat flour - 1/2 cup

* Baking soda - 2 tsp

* Ground cinnamon - 2 tsp

* Allspice - 2 tsp

* Fennel seed - 1 tsp, ground

* Sea salt - a pinch*

* Walnuts (optional) - a handful, chopped

* Coconut oil - 1/3 cup

* Eggs - 3

* Raw honey - 1/2 cup

* Apple - 2, cored and grated

* Carrots - 2 large, grated

Preheat the oven to 170 degrees C.

Mix all the dry ingredients together in a large mixing bowl.

Add the oil, eggs and honey, mix again.

Add the apple and carrot. Mix again.

Pour into a greased loaf tin* and bake for 1 hour.

* If you’re cooking for a wee one, my latest trick is to add the sea salt as a sprinkle on top of the loaf, just before it goes into the oven. This way it’s easy to lop off the very top layer before giving to babe, but the grown ups still get their salt kick.

** If you’re a loaf lover, like me, it’s worth investing in a silicone loaf tin. Guaranteed perfect turn out every time, and no need to grease.


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