Millet Fruit and Nut Quick Bread

June 15, 2008 at 8:18 pm (breakfast, B_minus (2 stars, okay), Dessert, Grains, Muffins and quick breads, Rebecca Wood)


This is an update of an older post, but I changed quite a few of the details so I thought it was worth reposting. I pulled some millet out of the freezer, and decided to give this recipe another try, with alterations based on my comments from the first version:

  • 1 cup orange juice
  • 3/4-1 cup dried fruit (I used currants, dried pear, dried apple, dried cranberries, and sour Persian berries)
  • 3 Tbs. unsalted butter
  • 3 Tbs. honey
  • 1 large egg
  • 1.5 cups cooked millet
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/4 cup toasted almonds, chopped

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Chop the dried fruit, and place in a large bowl. In a small saucepan, heat up 1 cup of the orange juice to not-quite boiling, then pour over the dried fruit. Let stand for 15 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, in the same saucepan, melt the butter, then add the honey and stir to combine well. Pour into the bowl with the dried fruit and let cool. Toast the almonds, and then chop them coarsely. Grease a 9×5 inch loaf pan, or a 8×8 inch square banking pan.
  4. When the liquid has cooled, add the egg and mix well. Next, add the millet and and stir to break up any clumps. Sift in the flour, salt, baking powder, and soda, and mix gently. Fold in the almonds. Pour the batter into a loaf pan or square baking pan, and bake for about 35 minutes, or until a tester comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack.

My notes: the texture of this cake was nice. It was moist and heavy and millet-y and crumbly, and held together quite well. The almonds didn’t add a lot of flavor, but I added a bit of texture, although I wish I had left a few of the nuts in slightly larger pieces. The tart Persian berries and cranberries were a great addition, but I couldn’t taste the other fruit individually. I liked the orange juice instead of the original apple juice. It adds just a touch of acidity which is lovely. This cake is not too sweet. It’s almost mid-way between a cake and a quick bread like Irish Soda Bread with raisins. It’s nice toasted with a little salted butter on top, or toasted and topped with warm milk. It’s still a tad bit low on the pizzazz factor, which would be helped perhaps by the use of some baking spices: cloves or cardamom or poppy seeds or black pepper maybe?

Rating: B

Update Dec 27, 2009

I cooked 1 cup of millet with 2 cups of water, 1 Tbs. butter, pinch of salt, pinch of cloves, and 1/8 tsp. nutmeg.  It came out a bit wet, not sure why.  I used 1 cup of it for the cake.  I used 3/4 cup orange juice, plus a little that clung to the fruit after soaking.  In addition to the honey, I added 2 Tbs. of sweet syrup made from Derek’s failed honeycomb sugar experiment. I used only 1 cup flour and 1/2 cup cornmeal.  I used toasted walnuts instead of almonds, but forgot to measure them.  Maybe about 1/3 cup?  For fruit I used 3 dried peaches, 1 dried apricot, some raisins, some tart Persian berries, and a little crystalized ginger.  I baked the cake in a 9×9 square pan for 20 minutes, and the tester came out clean.

The cake was tasty.  I liked the addition of the cornmeal–it gave it a slightly grittier texture that was lovely.    The flavor was good, although I still think there’s some room to play around with spices.  Almond extract maybe?  Next time I’d add the cloves and nutmeg directly to the batter.  I liked the bigger pieces of walnuts–you could definitely taste them.  The addition of the honeycomb sugar syrup made the cake sweeter than last time–Derek didn’t try to add any sweetener.  He did add a little butter, however.  He said the cake was pretty tasty, but he wouldn’t ask me to bake it again.  Also, he didn’t like the tart berries. He was also confused about the recipe.  What is it, he wondered?  Dessert?  Breakfast?  Neither.  The next day Derek liked it better.  Derek rating: B.  My rating: B.  I think it’s a good recipe to have around if you want to use up some cooked millet or dried fruit, but I probably wouldn’t go out of my way to make it.  It would probably be good to serve in the afternoon with.  For this recipe:

Serving Size: 1/16 recipe
Amount Per Serving
Calories 133
Total Fat 4.4g
Saturated Fat 1.7g
Trans Fat 0g
Cholesterol 19mg
Sodium 134mg
Carbohydrate 21.9g
Dietary Fiber 1.2g
Sugars 8.6g
Protein 2.5g
Vitamin A 3% Vitamin C 10%
Calcium    2% Iron 3%

Original post: December 31, 2007

Last year Derek and I had a delicious millet cake at Green Zebra in Chicago, and ever since then I wanted to try my hand at replicating it, partly because it’s something different, and partly it’s because it’s the first time Derek ever liked millet. I did some googling, and turned up very little–one recipe with nuts and fruit, and a few made from millet flour rather than the whole millet. I decided to start with a recipe for Apricot Millet Breakfast Cake from The Splendid Grain by Rebecca Wood.

  • 1 cup apple juice + 1/2 cup (in case your fruit is very dry)
  • 1/2 cup chopped dried apricots
  • 1/4 cup currants
  • 2 Tbs. dried cranberries
  • 3 Tbs. unsalted butter
  • 3 Tbs. honey
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 cup cooked millet
  • 1 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour or all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/4 cup chopped pumpkin seeds

My own version of the instructions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Chop the apricots, and place with the cranberries and currants in a small bowl. In a small saucepan, heat up 1 cup of the apple juice to not-quite boiling, then pour over the dried fruit. Let stand for 15 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, in the same saucepan, melt the butter, then add the honey and stir to combine well. Pour into a large bowl and let cool briefly. Chop the pumpkin seeds, and grease a 9×5 inch loaf pan.
  4. When the fruit has been soaking for 15 minutes, pour it through a strainer, letting the juice fall into a 1-2 quart measuring cup. If there is more than 3/4 cup of juice, pour off some, and if there is less, add enough to make 3/4 cup (the amount yielded will depend on how dry your fruit was). Pour the juice into the large bowl with the butter and honey, then add the egg and mix well. Next, add the millet and fruit and stir to break up any clumps. Sift in the flour, salt, baking powder, and soda, and mix gently. Fold in the pumpkin seeds. Pour the batter into the loaf pan, and bake for about 30 minutes, or until a test comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack.

My Notes:
I misread the instructions and added 1 cup of apple juice instead of 3/4 cup, so then I was afraid my batter would be too wet so I added extra millet. The cake took 45 minutes to cook, rather than 30, probably because of my mistake. But in the end I liked it with the extra millet and juice, so I might actually do this on purpose next time!

I like the cake. It has a very similar texture to the one we had at green zebra~the millet is definitely noticeable, and adds a nice crumbliness to the cake. Like all of Rebecca Wood’s recipes, this cake tastes surprisingly simple, and is almost but not quite bland, with a little something elusive that makes it interesting, and keeps you going back for more.

I like that this cake uses real butter, but only 3 Tbs., and honey, but only 3 Tbs. I bet it would also be nice with olive oil instead of butter. The cake is sweet from the juice and fruit and honey, but not crazy sweet (although Derek did add maple syrup to his). I enjoyed the cake for dessert, and I had a slice toasted and covered in warm milk for breakfast, which was delicious.

All that said, I don’t think I would make this recipe again without substantial changes. I used white flour since I didn’t have whole wheat pastry flour, but I thought it could use a slightly more flavorful flour, either whole wheat or half white and half something else, maybe oat flour or cornmeal? The pumpkin seeds were subtle, but noticeable, and I didn’t dislike them, but next time would try another seed or nut instead, perhaps poppy or almonds. I don’t really care for dried apricots, so next time I make this I think I’d sub in some other dried fruit, maybe some dried apples to echo the apple juice flavor, or perhaps something very tart would be nice, something like barberries or unsweetened cranberries (although they’re very hard to find). I also might try adding just a pinch of a sweet spice like cloves or allspice or nutmeg perhaps, or maybe even cardamom.

Derek said the cake was “not bad, pretty good, needs to be sweeter.” He liked it warmed up with milk and honey or maple syrup over it, but wouldn’t touch it plain and room temperature.

Rating: B-
Derek: B-

Here’s the nutritional stats for 1/12 of a loaf pan:

Serving Size: 1/12 cake
Amount Per Serving
Calories 176
Total Fat 4.8g
Saturated Fat 2.2g
Cholesterol 25mg
Sodium 178mg
Carbohydrate 31.4g
Dietary Fiber 1.5g
Sugars 13.9g
Protein 3.7g
Vitamin A 7% Vitamin C 1%
Calcium 2% Iron 6%

It’s 24% fat, 68% carbs, and 8% protein. As a dessert that seems a bit low fat. For a breakfast, you’d clearly want to add more protein. But it’s only 175 calories so there’s room for a higher protein food. With a serving of lowfat yogurt or milk or regular soymilk the percents would be around 25%, 60%, 15%, which is more appropriate for breakfast.

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