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emergency measures

Posted Jan 19 2006 12:00am
I had to bake last night. Mom and DS2 made brownies in the afternoon, and if my jeans weren't getting tight, I wouldn't care. But the jeans are getting tight, and the scale has not crept back down from its holiday-indulgenced height, so I do care. No way am I eating brownies.

Of course, if I'm not eating brownies, I have to eat something else, so I low-carbed Virginia's Apple Orange Bread, which I found in last week's Carnival of Recipes. The original recipe uses orange juice, but I knew that my favorite herbal tea ever, Tazo Wild Sweet Orange, would be the perfect substitute.

We always have apples in the fridge -- Granny Smiths are the kids' favorite. I have a tree full of oranges outside, and so off I went:

Low-Carb Apple Orange Bread
2 standard loaves, or 24 muffins

wet ingredients:
1/2 C oil
1 Tazo Wild Sweet Orange teabag
1 C erythritol
1/2 C Splenda granular
2 apples, cored, not peeled, cut into chunks
1 orange, with rind, cut into chunks, seeds removed
2 eggs
1/4 C golden raisins, each snipped into 2 or 3 pieces (see note below)
1/2 C chopped walnuts

dry ingredients:
1+1/2 C almond meal
1 C Designer Whey French Vanilla whey protein powder
1/4 C oat flour
1/4 C vital wheat gluten flour
1 tsp salt
2 tsp baking powder

You'll need a food processor for this recipe, although the Headmistress/Zookeeper at The Common Room used a blender in her version. There is a blender somewhere in this house, but it belongs to DH and I don't think anyone has used it in the past 10 years. My food processor, on the other hand, has been with me longer than my husband and is one of my best kitchen friends. I trusted it for this job and it came through just fine.

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Prepare two standard loaf pans by lining them with foil and then spraying the foil with no-stick spray. You really don't want to skip the lining step. Breads like this can be very tenacious. Use paper liners if you're making muffins, although you'll probably do well with a silicone muffin pan. Use no-stick spray no matter what!

Before you start, pop the teabag into 8 ounces of boiling water, and let it sit until you're ready for it.

Measure the dry ingredients into your food processor. Yes, that's right, I said the dry ones. I usually recommend sifting the ingredients together to make sure that everything is well-mixed, but thought I'd see how this works out. Pulse-process until the mixture is uniform. My almond meal was a little moist so these ingredients almost formed a dough, and I had to keep breaking up lumps of stuff, but this was still way easier and faster than having to sift everything together. Dump the combined ingredients into a large mixing bowl.

Put the apples and oranges into the workbowl (no need to wash it out first), and process for a minute or so until all the big chunks are gone. Add the oil, sweeteners, eggs, 1/2 C of the orange tea (drink the rest), and process until
smooth. Add the raisins and nuts and give it one more quick whirl.

At this point, my food processor's workbowl was filled to capacity, so it's a good thing there aren't any more liquid ingredients...

Pour the contents of the workbowl into the dry ingredients, being sure to scrape it out. Mix quickly but thoroughly -- don't overbeat, but do make sure there are no big lumps of dry stuff. Pour the batter, which is quite liquid, into the two loaf pans, making your best effort to keep them even.

Bake at 325 degrees for about an hour, until the tops are deep golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. These are incredibly moist, so don't worry as you normally might with a low-carb bread that it will be too dry if you overbake -- err on the side of baking longer. Muffins will probably need about 20-25 minutes.

Yields 2 loaves, each loaf yeilding 12 slices -- or 24 muffins.
Approximate nutrition information, per slice/muffin: 139 calories, 5 g fat, 7 g carbs, 2 g fiber, 2 g sugar alcohols.

As the Headmistress/Zookeeper noted of the original version, these are awesome plain or with butter. All the fresh flavors of the fruit shine through since there are no spices to compete with them. Yum!

Notes: You don't have to snip the raisins, and it is incredibly tedious job. But if you do, you will be rewarded with a more even distribution of raisin bits throughout the bread. Raisins are lovely, but quite high carb. I couldn't bear to leave them out altogether, but a whole cup of raisins is 115 g of carbs! Yikes. A quarter-cup, snipped, gives you the flavor without making this bread an unreachable splurge.

You can always pick up a Tazo at your nearest Starbucks, but if you'd rather not, you can use sugar free diet orange soda; Hansen's makes a nice diet Tangerine Lime that would probably work well here. Reduce the Splenda to 1/3 cup if you use this.

You can use all Splenda instead of Erythritol; that will add 1 g of carb per serving but your taste and texture should be fine.

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