Wild rice isn't a regular staple in my pantry. I vaguely remember eating it once or twice as a kid, but nowadays I pass it over for brown, basmati, or arborio if we're making pudding (and honestly, I always want to be making pudding).
But I stumbled upon an intriguing-sounding recipe this fall, in the Lundeberg recipe archives, for a wild rice and carrot tea cake. I did some research: As it turns out, wild rice isn't rice at all, but an aquatic grass that mostly grows in the Great Lakes region. It's pretty nutritious and the chewy texture can be a real boon in the kitchen, as today's recipe proves.
This bread, to put it simply, is wonderful. My fiancé looked at me, surprised, and mumbled through a mouthful of it, "This is exceptional." Reminiscent in flavor and texture of banana bread, it's spiced and sweet and fantastically dense in just the right way. The top breaks apart in craggy chunks, like a good muffin does, and it only improves with a day or two in the freezer or fridge. I like it toasted with butter or plain, cold, and eaten with my fingers. The wild rice gives it a pleasingly toothsome quality, making it more interesting than your average quick bread.
And, if anyone asks you about the grand topic of New Year's resolutions, I think expanding your kitchen horizons should be top of the list. This bread is so damn interesting, delicious, and fun to make, it'll be a perfect project for the colder days of January. Plus, you'll find yourself looking at an old ingredient in a new way.
Upon first reading the recipe, I admit, you'll be skeptical. A cup of cooked (or leftover, if you have it) rice just gets tossed into the batter without pulsing or grinding it in the food processor first. It feels wrong! It feels like you'll end up with a mouthful of chewy rice bound in a sweet quick bread batter. You won't. Bear with me.
The rest of the batter is cross between a carrot cake and a banana bread, full of warm spices and brown sugar and grated carrot. You can bake it in a 9x5-inch loaf pan, or you can divide the batter among smaller loaf pans or muffin tins (just reduce the baking time by a bit). Make sure you don't underbake it, as the bread does have a tendency towards being quite moist already.
Exotic-sounding and fun to bake, this is my new favorite cake to stash in the freezer for a pick-me-up. Consider it the most delicious New Year's resolution you'll ever keep.
- 2 eggs, lightly beaten
- 1 1/4 cups milk
- 2/3 cup vegetable oil or melted butter
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 3 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 2 teaspoons cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon nutmeg
- 1/4 teaspoon cardamom
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup packed dark brown sugar
- 2 cups shredded carrots
- 3/4 cup wild rice
Tell us: What recipes do you resolve to make this year? (And consider adding this bread to that list!)