What do you call something made with carrots, bananas, dates, zero unnatural sugar, and whole wheat flour? Hopefully, you wouldn’t call it dessert. And usually, neither would I.
But there is something so intriguing about this recipe for…bread. It’s a crazy extreme healthy approach to a carrot cake. It has all of the necessary ingredients of a carrot cake: carrots, of course, cinnamon, cream cheese frosting, even! But with the added benefit of healthy whole wheat flour and zero unnatural sugars. It basically sounds impossible for it to be tasty. So of course, I wanted to be proven wrong.
Results? It’s not quite your grandmother’s carrot cake. Think of it more like a banana bread with cream cheese frosting slathered on top. We should even agree to call this breakfast and not dessert. But it totally works. You don’t miss the sugar too much. And the bites with the frosting are especially divine (don’t judge)! Regardless, it’s a tasty and healthy lead-in to a summer full of ice cream, pies and cobblers!
Carrot Cake Breakfast Bread (adapted from 101 Cookbooks)
I used whole wheat pastry flour, as the recipe indicates, but I would say that perhaps you shouldn’t be as virtuous when you give this a go. I think that the whole wheat flour is what gives this bread the most “healthy” taste. Try it half and half with all purpose flour, or even the full amount. And while we’re on this subject of virtue, I would even say that adding about 2-4 tablespoons of brown sugar to the batter would be just fine. But we would be bordering on calling it dessert with that. I would suggest, however, splitting the 1 stick of butter into 4 tablespoons, and replacing the other 1/4 cup with applesauce for maximum healthiness without the healthy taste.
2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup finely chopped walnuts, toasted
4 ounces unsalted butter, heated until just melted
1/2 cup dried dates
2 ripe bananas, mashed well
1 1/2 cups grated carrots
1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt
2 eggs, lightly beaten
6 oz. cream cheese, softened
3 tablespoons agave nectar or maple syrup
1/3 cup powdered sugar, sifted
Preheat oven to 350. Grease a loaf pan and line it with parchment paper. Set aside.
Pour the melted butter on top of the dates and set aside for dates to soften.
Sift together the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt. Stir in the walnuts and set aside.
In a separate bowl combine the bananas and carrots. Whisk in the yogurt and the eggs (and the sugar, if using – see headnote).
Puree the butter/date mixture, and add it to the banana/carrot mixture. Mix well.
Add flour mixture and stir until everything comes together. Pour into prepared pan and bake for 45-55 minutes, until tester comes out clean.
While baking, vigorously stir together the cream cheese, agave or maple, and the powdered sugar. After the bread has come out of the oven, let it cool slightly and then slather the cream cheese frosting on top, while still a bit warm.