This spring break week I’ve been hen-sitting my friend Anouk’s chickens. She has three hens, each of them with a different character, who spend their days softly clucking and curiously foraging and scratching about in her big garden. In exchange for the provision of grains and fresh water I was allowed to take the eggs left daily in the nestbox. I can’t think of a more ethical source of eggs, so I happily headed into the kitchen afterwards. The result: this wonderful banana bread.
Banana bread exists in countless variations. The base is the use of very, very ripe bananas. So, truth be told, not those cheery bright yellow ones portrayed in the picture below, but those unappealing brown ones left behind in the corner of our fruit baskets. By using them in sweet baking like this, we can give those forgotten fruits the appreciation they deserve, because they are so sweet you’ll hardly need to add any sugar. Starting there, you can vary as much as you like by adding different kinds of flour, nuts, spices and other fruits or vegetables for extra sweetness. This is my version, with walnuts, an ample dose of unsweetened cocoa powder, grated carrot for additional fibre and sweetness and blueberries, just because they’re so good.
The result, more a loaf cake then a bread, is moist, crumbly and not too sweet, just the way I like it! Made with oatmeal and quinoa flour it’s gluten free, nourishing and full-flavoured. It’s delicious with a cup of tea, but it also makes an ideal addition to your breakfast or packed lunch, or a healthy snack to satisfy those afternoon cravings.
To all my friends who have been asking for it: you’ll find the recipe below. For the vegans amongst you I’m still experimenting with different banana bread recipes using homemade nut milk – the result will follow soon, so stay posted!
Choc banana bread with walnuts and blueberries
- 3 very ripe bananas
- 2 large carrots, grated
- 3 eggs
- 1 tbsp. agave syrup
- 75 g rolled oats
- 75 g quinoa flour
- 4 tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder
- pinch of salt
- 2 tsp. baking powder
- 150 g walnuts, roughly chopped
- 150 g blueberries
Note: Oats are not always gluten free, due to contamination with wheat, rye or barley on the field or during the packaging process. If you’re intolerant, check the label and choose a certified gluten free brand.
Heat the oven to 180°C/350°F/Gas 4.
In a large bowl, mix the bananas with the grated carrots, the eggs and the agave syrup, then whizz with a stick blender.
In a food processor, whizz the oats to a fine powder. Mix with the quinoa flour, the cocoa powder, the salt and the baking powder.
Stir the flour mixture through the banana puree, then fold in the nuts and berries.
Line a loaf tin with baking parchment and pour in the batter. Bake for about 50 minutes. After 15 minutes, cover the loaf with aluminium foil to prevent it from turning too dark. Start checking for doneness after 45 minutes: if a skewer poked in the center comes out clean, it’s ready; if it comes out with batter on it, allow the cake to bake an extra 5-10 minutes.
When done, remove the cake from the oven and leave to cool in the tin.
Enjoy with tea, for breakfast or as a lunchbox snack. Wrapped in foil it will keep for up to 3 days. If you like to have a homemade treat within reach for any occasion, you can also freeze it in individual slices, wrapped in plastic foil; this way it will keep for up to three months.