Carrot Banana Bread
As a baby I had carotenaemia. Daily, my parents fended off incessant inquiries from prying cashiers and worried neighbors. Every conversation eventually led to a reluctant explanation of why their chubby little baby was orange. I liked carrots – well, carrot baby food. I liked it so much so the elevated levels of carotene in my blood turned my skin a delightfully comedic shade of orange.
A few years later and my carrot-tone skin had disappeared though my love for the root persisted. My parents, all too familiar with my obsessive need for daily carrot fixes, learned to dedicate an entire drawer in the fridge for the orange stuff. Soon that wasn’t enough. Chicken scratch handwriting magically appeared on shopping lists requesting baby carrots, carrot soup, carrot cake, carrot juice and anything else that has the word carrot in it.
The story behind my love for the banana is very similar. My life became a whirlwind of nonstop carrot and banana eating.
Then one day, when I was about eight years old, a neighbor brought over homemade banana bread. The reason escapes me – I can still remember the genuine surprise that washed over my parents face as they took the small loaf though. Politeness was preached above all else in my family and since this was a gift to my parents, I wouldn’t let my self beg them for a slice. Instead I stared my little eight year old hazel puppy eyes up to my mom and waited. Thirty seconds later I was sliding a fork into my first ever slice of banana bread.
For months after that day I begged my parents to make banana bread. Every saturday morning I’d run into my parents’ bedroom, wake them up and insist that baking a loaf of banana bread was on the docket. And every Saturday, until I tired of the sweet, dense, moist cake, my parents obliged.
Today, the treat I most often gift to a friend in need or new neighbor is banana bread, or some variation on it. Delicately wrapped in parchment paper, complete with a twine bow, I deliver these little edible gifts with the hope that I too will rouse the same surprised joy from my friends that my parents experienced nearly 20 years ago. This recipe yields two loafs: one for you and one for a friend.
Banana Carrot Bread: While moderately high in sugars, this bread (which is really much closer to a cake than anything else) is loaded with nutrients. Vitamin A (beta-carotene), various B vitamins, vitamin C, antioxidants, fibre, maganese, potassium and a handful of minerals all make an appearance. The moist, dense nature of this banana carrot bread gives it a longer shelf life than most cakes and can last three or four days stored in an airtight container at room temperature. The added carrots in this banana bread give it a little extra sweetness and a hint of that character carrot taste.
If you like pecans or walnuts in your banana bread, you can easily add 4 ounces of either nut, chopped, at the end. Be sure to carefully fold them in to not deflate the egg whites.
- 1 pound unpeeled bananas, very ripe
- 6 ounces finely grated carrots
- 1 teaspoon lime juice, plus a couple drops
- 8 ounces whole wheat pastry flour
- 7 ounces all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 14 ounces sugar
- 1 ounce maple syrup
- 4 ounces melted butter
- 2 egg yolks
- 4 egg whites
- Preheat the oven to 350°F. Butter the loaf pans and set aside.
- Mash the bananas in a bowl with the back of a spoon or fork. Grate the carrots into the bowl. Add the lime juice and mix everything together. Set aside.
- Mix together the whole wheat pastry flour, all-purpose flour, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda and salt together in a bowl. Set aside.
- Add the sugar, maple syrup, melted butter and egg yolks to the banana and carrot mixture. Mix (on medium-low) until evenly blended. Add the dry ingredients and mix until the batter just comes together.
- Whisk the egg whites with a drop or two lime juice until firm peaks form. Carefully fold the egg white mixture into the batter.
- Evenly spread the batter between the two loaf pans.
- Bake immediately for 45 to 50 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
- Let cool in the pans for 5 minutes before removing to cool completely on a cooling rack.