It’s a big week for the United States: both Easter and Passover. Both holidays are times when we go to religious services, visit our family and friends, and eat great meals together. But this year, because of the coronavirus, most of us can’t see our loved ones this week. It’s odd to be celebrating the idea of resurrection and new life when I’m in New York City, a place where we’re losing hundreds of lives a day to the disease. Honestly, it sucks. There’s no other way to say it. But spring and Easter remind us that life can restart again.
And at least we can keep some semblance of normalcy with food. There’s been a weird thing happening since quarantine began. My bananas, which usually go straight into my daily smoothies, have been ripening quickly on the counter. So I’ve been turning to one of my favorite banana bread recipes of all time, this Vegan Banana Bread from Oh She Glows. Seems like my crisis coping mechanism has me swapping greens-filled smoothies for comforting breads…that’s totally the same nutritionally, right?
But I wanted something special for Easter brunch. This recipe is different from my others in that it’s not connected to a particular story or trip or tradition, but rather it’s laying the path for a new one. I adapted the banana bread recipe to make my carrot cake loaf. Bursting with carrots, walnuts, and raisins, this loaf tastes like carrot cake in bread form, smothered in a cream cheese icing. The loaf is vegan and the icing can be adapted if you have vegan cream cheese on hand, and it’s all done in one bowl. It is ooey AND gooey, but it also has a lot of nutritious ingredients – carrots, bananas, flax, nuts, raisins, oats…and a few less nutritious things as well ; ) It is a holiday after all! I have a feeling based on the response that this is going to become an Easter staple in my house.
I start with mashing the bananas and shredding the carrots. The most annoying thing about this recipe was grating the carrots. I tried doing it automatically in my food processor, but the carrots still came out too big, as though they belonged in a salad. To grate it finely and really incorporate the carrot flavor, I recommend you do it by hand on a fine grater. Yes, it takes more effort, but it is worth it.
You add the remaining wet ingredients and mix. Then add the dry, one by one. Add the raisins and nuts last.
Bake the loaf. While it’s baking, make your icing. One of the trickier things about icing is getting the right consistency. You want it to pour but not be too thin. I recommend adding a small amount of milk at a time (one teaspoon) and assessing before adding more to avoid runny icing.
The loaf is done when a toothpick comes out clean and it’s golden brown on top. (Disclaimer that my oven is reliably unreliable – it’s been known to mysteriously turn off mid-bake, ruining multiple experiments – so definitely pay attention to how your equipment operates and check in on your loaf.) Flip it out of the pan – it should fall right out – and let it cool for 30 minutes before icing. Then pour the icing slowly down the middle and let it drip over the sides. You will make a gooey mess so consider yourself warned. Garnish with more carrots and nuts if you’d like!
Ooey-Gooey Carrot Cake Loaf
Makes one loaf. 1 hour 30 minutes.
Carrot Cake Loaf
- 2 very ripe bananas
- 1 1/2 cups finely shredded carrot (about 5 small carrots)
- 1/3 cup almond milk
- 1/3 cup coconut oil, melted
- 2 tablespoons maple syrup
- 2 tablespoons ground flaxseed
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1/3 cup granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup rolled oats
- 2 teaspoons cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
- 1/2 cup walnuts, chopped
- 1/2 cup raisins
Cream Cheese Icing
- 1.5 ounces cream cheese (sub vegan cream cheese), softened
- 1 tablespoon butter, softened
- 1 cup powdered sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1-2 tablespoons almond milk
- Large bowl
- 8 1/2″ x 4 1/2″ x 2 1/2″ loaf pan
- Hand mixer or stand mixer
- Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease the loaf pan with coconut oil on the bottom and sides.
- In a large bowl, mash the banana. Add the shredded carrot and mash the banana and carrot together.
- Stir the wet ingredients (almond milk, melted coconut oil, maple syrup, ground flaxseed, and vanilla) into the banana/carrot mixture until combined.
- Stir the dry ingredients (sugar, oats, cinnamon, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and flour) into the carrot mixture, one by one, in the order listed. Stop stirring when there are no flour patches at the bottom of the bowl.
- Gently fold in the walnuts and raisins last. Mix until just evenly spread, but be careful not to overmix.
- Spoon the dough into the greased pan and spread out evenly.
- Bake the loaf uncovered for 45 minutes, or until golden brown on top and a toothpick comes out clean.
- While baking, make the icing. Beat together the softened cream cheese and butter with a hand mixer. Add the powdered sugar and slowly beat together. Add the vanilla and 1 tablespoon of milk. The icing should be thin enough to pour. If not, keep adding 1 teaspoon of milk and mix until it thins.
- Cool for 10 minutes, then flip the pan and the loaf will slide right out. Let sit for another 20 minutes. Pour the icing down the middle of the loaf, letting it drip over the sides. Garnish with more shredded carrots and nuts if you’d like.